The United States Men’s National Team will take on Ghana in a friendly tomorrow to begin in earnest preparations for the 2017 Gold Cup, which begins next weekend. It is the first time the two World Cup rivals have squared off since a 2-1 victory by the USMNT in Natal, Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. The USMNT employs a younger look without a lot of its regular starters, as the 23-man Gold Cup roster has a lot of new and unfamiliar faces to the international scene.
What’s the plan for Bruce Arena in terms of who will start at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut? I think we’ll see a mix of players who have something to prove and some established veterans:
First off, I think Arena will trot out a 4-4-2 lineup that he will use for the first match of the Gold Cup against Panama. I think in goal, he goes with Brad Guzan, which makes sense. He’s the #2 in the USMNT player pool and he is likely brought in to get the team through the group stage. Fans have a lot of thoughts about whether Guzan should be the starter, but he’s here to do just that. Guzan will be Arena’s first choice among the goalkeepers on the roster, and I against Ghana he will be the #1.
The backline will be anchored by Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, two veterans that Arena trusts and can work well together. Jorge Villafaña has seen plenty of time during World Cup qualifying at left back and he’s someone I think has also earned Arena’s trust. At right back, Eric Lichaj is a player that many fans have wanted in the mix for a long time. I think he gets his chance against the Black Stars.
The midfield will be championed by, in my opinion, one of the USMNT’s brightest young stars, Kellyn Acosta. He can really move the attack forward and also provide cover on defense and he’s exciting to watch. Paul Arriola on the right is also someone that has contributed during World Cup qualifying but is still one of those fringe players who will be looking to make a statement. In the middle paired with Acosta will be Cristian Roldan, one of the players that most fans hope will take advantage of their first shot with the national team. On the left, Kenny Saief provides some flair and creativity that will really help this team motor, and part of me feels that Arena senses that these players together can really control possession while creating some great scoring opportunities.
At the striker role, we will finally see the debut of Dom Dwyer with the USMNT. He has the tendency to score a lot of goals, and he will be counted on to punch balls into the back of the net. Finally, I think Jordan Morris gets the other starting nod up top, and he has to make this match his own. He hasn’t scored a lot this season for club, but this is a great opportunity for him to show that he is the USMNT striker of the future, and I think Arena will give him that chance.
Game starts at 4:45pm Saturday on ESPN and UniMas, so tune in to see how the USMNT does against an old foe. Hit the comments and let us know what lineups you think Bruce Arena should employ for the USMNT tomorrow.