Three Big Storylines
- The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) is on a three game winning streak since Gregg Berhalter took over the program. That’s the good news, the other news (not necessarily bad) is that Chile is going to be a step up in competition. Since Berhalter took over the USMNT has beaten, in order: Panama 3-0, Costa Rica 2-0 and Ecuador 1-0. Going by my advanced trend line recognition powers, I think the soccer gods are telling us that today might be a 0-0 draw. While the soccer gods might think that, I don’t expect Chile to play anywhere near the conservative gameplan that Ecuador deployed last week. Look for Chile to press much higher up the field and for this game to have a lot more space than Thursday’s game against Ecuador.
- Weston McKennie picked up a serious ankle injury against Ecuador and has returned to Schalke. Early reports are that he will likely miss the rest of the Bundesliga season but possibly be ready for the USMNT in the Gold Cup. If McKennie’s rehab goes slow at all, look for Schalke to be as conservative as possible with a return timeline. This might be the first point of contention for Berhalter and player availability. But that’s for this summer and another Three Big Storylines to come. Right now with McKennie out an option to start in his place might be Cristian Roldan. Roldan’s chances of making the Gold Cup roster and every major call up this World Cup cycle get better and better the more positions he is looked at by Berhalter as the primary backup. Tyler Adams has also been released to his club and is back in Germany in an arrangement that was made prior to the opening of the international window.
- Right back is still a position of interest for the USMNT under Berhalter. The USMNT has had their most dependable right back since Steve Cherundolo manned the position for the stars and stripes in DeAndre Yedlin. While Yedlin is healthy and a regular starter in the English Premier League, Berhalter has chosen to implement a system that is perceived to not mesh well with Yedlin’s strengths. Berhalter wants his right back to push up and inside in possession becoming a defacto central midfielder and morphing into a three man back line. At 25 years old and with 58 caps, Yedlin might have to fight once more for a starting spot with the USMNT. On Thursday against Ecuador he subbed in for Jordan Morris in a right attacking spot.
From a Sounders Point of View
Jordan Morris got the start on Thursday and the results were mixed at best. The bunkering Ecuador defense did not give Morris room to take advantage of his strengths in attack. And in possession against 10 defenders Morris, McKennie and to some extent Tyler Adams often looked for the same space in the unfamiliar system. It is notable that all three of those players were not in Berhalter’s initial month long camp in January as Morris was still recovering from last year’s knee surgery and Adams and McKennie were in season in Germany.
Cristian Roldan is looking more and more like a guy that is going to be called into every USMNT camp for the duration of this cycle. Whether he gets the start tonight or Berhalter decides to try something like Arriola in the central and push Pulisic out wide, I expect him to see the field at some point.
DeAndre Yedlin will start at right back and wear the captain’s armband, while Cristian Roldan will reprise his role as one of the No. 10s.
DEFENDERS: 5-John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 36/3), 3-Omar Gonzalez (Atlas/MEX; 48/3), 24-Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), 23-Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 4/0), 16-Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact; 2/0), 19-Matt Miazga (Reading, ENG; 11/1), 13-Tim Ream (Fulham, ENG; 26/1), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, ENG; 57/0)
MIDFIELDERS: 4-Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, CAN; 143/17), 17-Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 7/2), 10-Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 23/9), 15-Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 7/0), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 13/0)
FORWARDS: 7-Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 19/3), 20-Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 2/0), 18-Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; 2/0), 11-Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 25/5), 21-Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 2/1), 9-Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 42/6)
GOALKEEPERS: Gabriel Arias (Racing/ARG; 3/0), Brayan Cortés (Colo-Colo; 2/0), Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon Town/ENG; 0/0)
DEFENDERS: Paulo Díaz (Al-Ahli/KSA; 16/0), Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahçe/TUR; 105/4), Gonzalo Jara (Estudiantes La Plata/ARG; 110/3), Igor Lichnovsky (Cruz Azul/MEX; 5/0), Guillermo Maripán (Deportivo Alavés/ESP; 13/2), Gary Medel (Besiktas/TUR; 116/7), Eugenio Mena (Racing/ARG; 55/3), Óscar Opazo (Colo-Colo; 4/0), Sebastián Vegas (Morelia/MEX; 4/1)
MIDFIELDERS: Charles Aránguiz (Bayer Leverkusen/GER; 67/7), Pablo Hernández (Independiente/ARG; 25/3), Jimmy Martínez (Universidad de Chile; 3/0), Jean Meneses (Club León/MEX; 0/0), Esteban Pavez (Colo-Colo; 3/0), Erick Pulgar (Bologna/ITA; 13/0), Diego Valdés (Santos Laguna/MEX; 9/1), Arturo Vidal (Barcelona/ESP; 105/26)
FORWARDS: Nicolás Castillo (Club América/MEX; 18/3), Felipe Mora (Pumas UNAM/MEX; 2/0), Iván Morales (Colo-Colo; 0/0), Diego Rubio (Colorado Rapids/USA; 4/0)
How to Watch
Time: Thursday, March 26th, 4:55 PM Pacific
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium — Houston, Texas
Available TV: ESPN2, UniMas, Univision Deportes
Join the Discussion
This is your Sounder at Heart USMNT versus Chile gamethread. Watch and discuss with us.