On both the women’s and men’s side of the program, US Soccer has a long, proud tradition of performing well when they play in the District of Columbia. The USWNT won all but one of their games at RFK Stadium, while some of the USMNT’s finest hours took place on East Capitol Street. Tonight, the United States will hope to take that tradition a couple miles southwest, as they host Jamaica in the first-ever national team game of any kind at Audi Field.
Don’t tell yourself that this is just a warm-up game before the Gold Cup. With his roster not yet set, head coach Gregg Berhalter acknowledged that performances tonight will, in some cases, be the difference between making the squad or missing out. “A lot of the work has been done beforehand, but we will make a few decisions based on tomorrow’s game,” said Berhalter after yesterday’s training session in Annapolis.
In other words, we should expect more intensity than in your average pre-tournament affair.
Key player: Paul Arriola
For our purposes, this game is mostly about the sole D.C. United representative to get a call-up. With the USMNT, Arriola’s versatility isn’t really going to come into play. He’s been called in to be a winger, and a winger is what he’ll be. In Berhalter’s system, stretching the field horizontally is critical in leveraging the central midfield overload he wants to create by having a fullback join the central midfield in attacking phases. Look for Arriola to spent a lot of time out near the touchline, regardless of whether he’s on the right or left.
That’s a different role from how he plays for United, but he’s been no less effective in red, white, and blue than when he’s part of the Black-and-Red’s attack. With competition for spots very high, it’s on Arriola to take advantage of his home turf and make the argument that he should not just make the Gold Cup roster, but should start when the tournament gets underway.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected USMNT starting 11: (433) - Zack Steffen; Nick Lima, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream; Weston McKennie, Michael Bradley, Djordje Mihailovic; Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola
Bench: Sean Johnson, Tyler Miller, Antonee Robinson, Omar Gonzalez, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Aaron Long, Daniel Lovitz, Wil Trapp, Jackson Yueill, Cristian Roldan, Duane Holmes, Sebastian Lletget, Jonathan Amon, Joe Gyau, Jozy Altidore, Josh Sargent, Tyler Boyd, Jonathan Lewis
Looking at Berhalter’s 433/3241 formation, there are some spots that are probably worth rolling the dice on a less-experienced starter. Zimmerman, for example, could be one of those players vying for a spot that’s still open, as could Zardes. Don’t be surprised if there are a bunch of substitutions at halftime, as players like Carter-Vickers, Lewis, Gyau, and Boyd may also be on the list of players Berhalter would like a longer look at.
As far as injuries go, Lletget’s status is apparently up in the air, with Berhalter saying that USMNT and LA Galaxy staff were to collaborate and make a decision sometime last night.
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 do we have to say about it?: Over at Stars and Stripes FC, Donald Wine II has a preview for you. We’ll also have some quotes from Arriola from training yesterday for you later this morning.
What are you drinking?: By now you probably know the score: press box bottled water provided by sponsors who don’t give me money to say their name here.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.