While hardly impressing, the United States met their first challenge of the 2017 Gold Cup, winning Group B and sealing the simplest possible path to next week’s final. Tonight, the USMNT starts down that path with a match against El Salvador, a country they have historically been able to beat comfortably on a regular basis. The US has lost just once to Los Cuscatlecos, and that came all the way back in 1992.
However, as we learned during the shocking way the US went out during the last edition of this tournament, you don’t just get to advance based on past history. For El Salvador - who have rebuilt their national team after a 2013 match-fixing scandal saw 14 players banned for life - this is a chance to make history. It’s their final, and the USMNT has to match their intensity.
Location: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)
Kickoff time: 9:00pm Eastern (note: this is the scheduled start time according to Fox, but with Costa Rica vs. Panama taking place beforehand, this is more likely to start at 9:30)
Projected USMNT starting 11: (442) - Tim Howard; Eric Lichaj, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Jorge Villafaña; Paul Arriola, Michael Bradley, Kellyn Acosta, Darlington Nagbe; Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore
Bench: Bill Hamid, Jesse Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, Matt Miazga, Matt Hedges, Justin Morrow, Dax McCarty, Joe Corona, Chris Pontius, Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo, Jordan Morris
Bruce Arena didn’t call in his six alternates to watch this one from the stands, so look for Howard, Bradley, Nagbe, Dempsey, Altidore to go into the lineup straight away. That means a return to the 442, so Corona will be one of the players to make way. The only change in the back four should be Lichaj in for Zusi, who seems to be Arena’s first choice but should probably not start all three knockout games (assuming the US plan involves going to the final, which it really should.
Available TV: Fox Sports 1 (English), Univision Deportes (Spanish)
Available streaming: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass, Univision Deportes app
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: Check out our friends over at Stars and Stripes FC for all the US coverage you can handle.
What are you drinking?: I’m planning on a round of bourbon for the D.C. United game later tonight, so when this game kicks off I’ll probably be drinking some iced tea with lemon or plain old water. It’s a weeknight, can’t go too hard.
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