It feels somehow appropriate that the United States, still without a full-time coach even though everyone knows who will get the job, finishes their 2018 schedule by facing what amounts to an Italy B-team in Belgium. Why Belgium instead of, I don’t know, Italy? Let’s not think too hard about that. Trust me, the USMNT has given all of us plenty of needlessly odd things to ponder. Here’s one: why spend a full year under an interim coach that no one ever believed would get the job, and whose evaluation of talent for the next cycle is probably coming in at a C-minus?
Nonetheless, the U.S. will be looking for a vastly improved performance after being smoked by England last week. That might be hard to muster, though, as the malaise that caused the program to fail to qualify for this year’s World Cup appears to have come through the ensuing year intact. Players can sense when there’s no actual pressure on them to do well, and at the national team level that’s a gigantic problem. Hopefully this inexperienced USMNT squad can find some internal motivation to overcome all of that and prove that they should be a part of the coming Gregg Berhalter era.
Location: Luminus Arena (Genk, Belgium)
Kickoff time: 2:45pm Eastern
USMNT starting 11:
This is a pretty interesting 532 (or 352?). There’s little true creativity in the midfield, but we could see Christian Pulisic drop between the lines and turn this into a 541 diamond. I think that would be the best use of this particular 11 players, but we’ll see what Dave Sarachan has in mind once the game gets going.
Italy starting 11:
Surprisingly, Roberto Mancini has not found room for Andrea Mancini in this lineup. I’m sure the Italian press will have a field day.
Available TV: Fox Sports 1, UniMas, Univision Deportes
Available streaming: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass, Univision Now, Univision Deportes En Vivo
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: 2:45 is coffee time in America.
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