Last year was a massive disappointment for the United States men’s national team, who failed to qualify for the World Cup. Now that it’s 2018, and with four years to build themselves back up again, the USMNT is looking at as many new faces as they can. The process started a couple of weeks ago, and January camp will end with the traditional friendly against a less-than-full-strength European opponent (this time, Bosnia & Herzegovina). Hopefully, this is the first step towards massive improvement.
Key player: Russell Canouse
This is a D.C. United site, so the list of players to talk about here consists of Canouse, Paul Arriola, and Ian Harkes (though obviously we are still going to pull for Bill Hamid to start). With Arriola’s place in the USMNT set-up looking secure even when the full squad is called in, and Harkes hopefully using this camp to prepare himself for a tough battle for playing time in a midfield that includes Junior Moreno and Ulises Segura, we’re going to focus on Canouse.
Canouse’s main challenger in this squad for minutes depends on how interim head coach Dave Sarachan sees him. If he’s viewed as an anchor midfielder, like his role in 2017 for United, then he’s up against Wil Trapp. If Sarachan sees him as more of a #8, which may be Canouse’s job for United depending on how Junior Moreno does, the competition is more daunting. Tyler Adams and Cristian Roldan are two of MLS’s best in that role, while Marky Delgado is only a regular for the best team in the league.
The composition of the roster points to Canouse battling Trapp, and if he can earn a start over the well-regarded Columbus Crew midfielder, he’ll be on course to start the season in good form.
Location: StubHub Center (Carson, CA)
Kickoff time: 9:30pm Eastern
Projected USMNT starting 11: (4141) - Bill Hamid; Matt Polster, Ike Opara, Justen Glad, Justin Morrow; Russell Canouse; Paul Arriola, Tyler Adams, Kelyn Rowe, Jordan Morris; Juan Agudelo
Bench: Zack Steffen, Alex Bono, Cody Cropper, Nick Lima, Walker Zimmerman, Tim Parker, Brandon Vincent, Danilo Acosta, Wil Trapp, Brooks Lennon, Marlon Hairston, Marky Delgado, Cristian Roldan, Ian Harkes, Gyasi Zardes, Rubio Rubin, CJ Sapong, Christian Ramirez
Glad is one to watch, as Real Salt Lake was simply a different team when the 20 year old was healthy. Sarachan could easily choose Sapong or Ramirez, but he should probably go with the youngest of the trio. Yes, despite how long Agudelo has been on the scene, he’s still a year younger than Ramirez and four years younger than Sapong.
The bench is very likely not going to contain 18 players. Bono, Cropper, Acosta, Hairston, Harkes, and Rubin seem less than likely to get into the gameday squad than the rest, though obviously if Harkes can get into this game over Delgado or Roldan, he will be primed for a strong start to the MLS season.
Available TV: Fox Sports 1, UniMas, Univision Deportes
Available streaming: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass, Univision Now, Univision Deportes app
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: Picked up some Secret Spot alt ale by Evolution Craft Brewing on Friday, so that’s likely going to be my choice.
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