The United States made light work of their Concacaf Nations League debut, but tonight’s game against Canada figures to be a stiffer test. The USMNT scored 4 goals in the opening 13 minutes en route to a 7-0 rout of Cuba, but the Canadians have had this full international window to focus solely on tonight’s match. The U.S. is also looking for its first win ever in the city of Toronto, while they will assure themselves of a spot in the Gold Cup with a draw or win tonight.
Key player: Paul Arriola
The main question we have is Arriola’s status after he was sent flying by a wild tackle moments after coming into the USMNT’s 7-0 win over Cuba at Audi Field. Gregg Berhalter said Arriola had “marks on both legs,” while Arriola described his shins as “kinda beat up” following the game. The D.C. United midfielder, while noting the short turnaround for both tonight’s game and the MLS playoffs, added that he felt like he should be able to play through the knock.
With a far more important United playoff game at this very venue on the weekend (sorry country-over-club types, but this is a DCU site first), seeing whether Arriola is able to play at his best is the big storyline around these parts. The ideal scenario is probably a 30-ish minute substitute appearance where he’s clearly at his best, which would a) ease worries that the tackle will hamper him on Saturday, b) boost his own morale, and c) give him some run without tiring him out.
Location: BMO Field (Toronto, Ontario)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected USMNT starting 11: (433) - Zack Steffen; Reggie Cannon, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream, Daniel Lovitz; Weston McKennie, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Lletget; Christian Pulisic, Gyasi Zardes, Jordan Morris
Bench: Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin, Aaron Long, Nick Lima, Cristian Roldan, Wil Trapp, Jackson Yueill, Corey Baird, Tyler Boyd, Josh Sargent, Paul Arriola
It seems like the fact that Sargent tweaked an ankle during the Cuba win will open the door for Zardes, and for the USMNT Twitter wailing and gnashing of teeth that comes no matter what he does. Lletget may get the nod over Roldan, though the Seattle Sounders man might be the more defensively secure choice given that this is a road game. Bradley probably gets the nod at his home stadium, while the defense should remain unchanged.
Steffen has been confirmed as a starter, while Brenden Aaronson was reported by Pro Soccer USA’s Emily Olsen as the one man in the squad who won’t dress (Concacaf limits Nations League gameday squads to 23 players).
Available TV: ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN
Available streaming: WatchESPN, Univision Now, TUDN En Vivo
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: I don’t have many mixed drink options due to a lack of mixers at the moment, but I do have some grapefruit soda. As such: a Paloma.
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