The United States men’s national team will make their return to the FIFA World Cup eight years after their last game in the competition.
USA open their 2022 World Cup group B campaign against Wales on November 21, before facing England and Iran on the 25th and 29th respectively.
As the U.S. Soccer Federation hosts an exclusive roster reveal event on Wednesday, November 9 to announce the 26-man squad that will travel to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we wondered what could be the starting team.
Having analyzed the USA World Cup tips, here is the possible starting 11 that will take to the field against Wales.
Several USMNT stars currently ply their trade at some of the biggest clubs in the world, and the 2021 Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League winners will be familiar with pressure at the highest level.
Although the opening-day clash against Wales is likely to feature the contenders for the runner-up spot in group B, the USMNT is by far the youngest team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the average age of their starting XI being 23.82 during the qualifiers. Almost two years younger than Ghana at 25.67, the next youngest team.
Despite the Yanks attending their 11th World Cup finals, they failed to qualify for Russia 2018 and must harness this golden generation of upcoming superstars.
Stalwarts like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Giovanni Reyna, Antonee Robinson, Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams are sure picks when healthy, so who is most likely to be in Gregg Berhalter’s first World Cup starting 11 at Al-Rayyan stadium?
The USMNT head coach prefers an expansive 4-3-3 system that saw them go unbeaten at home and score 21 goals during the qualifiers. However, the biggest challenge leading up to Qatar will be players who recently changed clubs might arrive with inconsistent playing minutes as well as the spate of injuries that will most certainly arrive before the start of the tournament.
The first-choice goalkeeper is likely to be Matt Turner whose confidence is noticeably growing after a rocky start at Arsenal, the 2021 MLS Goalkeeper of The Year is expected to man the posts in Qatar despite close competition from Zack Steffen.
Ahead of him, Walker Zimmermann and Aaron Long will look to continue their partnership in the heart of the defence, but Cameron Carter-Vickers and Chris Richards will be hoping to break into the team with Miles Robinson out injured.
The full-back positions are covered with depth in the likes of Sergiño Dest, Reggie Cannon and DeAndre Yedlin – the sole survivor from a USMNT World Cup squad in 2014 – capable on the right, the on-loan AC Milan man is set to start if fit while Antonee Robinson is one of the first names on the teamsheet at left-back. Yet he will have Joe Scally for company if he becomes a fitness doubt.
Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are very much automatic picks in midfield, with Yunus Musah being the most productive link between defence and attack. A fully-fit Giovanni Reyna could be the go-to man in order to fit the most attacking talent in the lineup and get the Borussia Dortmund man running at defenders from deep.
Upfront, captain Christian Pulisic, Timothy Weah and Brenden Aaronson are the team’s brightest attackers, but they desperately lack a reliable goalscorer.
Ricardo Pepi and Jesús Ferreira appear to be Gerhalter’s top choices at centre-forward but the latter has shown to be the best fit for the playing style despite his finishing not yet being up to standard. Elsewhere, Josh Sargent looks a much better player and has been in consistently good form for Norwich but Ferreira seems the favorite to start against Wales, however.
The USA are winless in their last three games amidst criticisms that Berhalter has been too inflexible in his tactical approach because he fits the players into his system rather than playing to their strengths.
Nevertheless, that sticky recent form will not matter when they line up against the Welsh who will be taking in their first FIFA World Cup game in 58 years.