The United States men’s national team makes its debut in the Concacaf Nations League tonight, as they welcome Cuba to Audi Field. The game should be a mismatch: almost all of Cuba’s players are domestic-based, while the USMNT has brought in the likes of Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie. However, with fan skepticism at an all-time high, the U.S. will be looking to prove to their supporters that they have made the progress Gregg Berhalter has asserted he sees.
Key player: Paul Arriola
The only D.C. United player called in has a good chance of starting on his home turf. Berhalter has usually (but not always) preferred Arriola over his other options on the left wing rather than his more familiar roles with United. Cuba conceded 6 goals in their last Group A road game, so they’re very likely going to sit deep and focus on damage limitation, which means good off-the-ball movement and good finishing are probably the most prominent items on Arriola’s to-do list tonight.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected USMNT starting 11: (433) - Zack Steffen; Nick Lima, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream, Daniel Lovitz; Weston McKennie, Michael Bradley, Christian Pulisic; Jordan Morris, Josh Sargent, Paul Arriola
Bench: Brad Guzan, Reggie Cannon, Aaron Long, Miles Robinson, Wil Trapp, Jackson Yueill, Cristian Roldan, Sebastian Lletget, Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Boyd, Gyasi Zardes, Corey Baird
Berhalter is allowed to dress up to 23 players, which means that of the final 25-man USMNT squad, two players (probably third-string GK Sean Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin, who is building back up from injury) will be left out.
As for the lineup itself, Steffen didn’t train during the team’s stay in the area, so we may see Guzan get the nod instead. Players like Cannon and Long could well end up starting over Lima and Ream, respectively, while in the midfield we could see Lletget or (sigh) Trapp. The second game in this window (a road trip to face Canada) is the more difficult of the pair, so if there’s going to be rotation with that game in mind, tonight is the night for it.
One thing we do know: Sargent has been confirmed as the starter up top by Berhalter.
Referee: Jose Raul Torres (Puerto Rico)
Available TV: Fox Sports 1, UniMas, TUDN
Available streaming: Fox Sports Go, Univision Now, TUDN En Vivo
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: Stars and Stripes FC has this game covered from a bunch of angles.
What are you drinking?: Trying to go to the Mystics celebration, then hit somewhere for a cup of pre-game coffee, then the traditional bottled water up in the press box...but maybe some tea? It’s gonna be around 61 degrees at full time, bring a jacket if you’re coming down to Buzzard Point.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.