The USA boss is shaking up his entire squad for the side’s final Gold Cup group match, making 11 lineup changes to face Panama
Gregg Berhalter tried to play coy about how many changes he would make to the U.S. national team lineup in Wednesday’s Gold Cup group finale against Panama, but sticking with the same squad was never really an option.
Berhalter didn’t just shake up his squad, he replaced the entire starting lineup that won the USMNT’s first two group stage matches, deploying an entirely new group to face the Canaleros with first place in Gold Cup Group D on the line.
Jozy Altidore will make his first start for the United States since the team’s historic World Cup qualifying loss to Trinidad and Tobago in 2017. He isn’t the only member of that infamous lineup to get the call on Wednesday, with Omar Gonzalez being given the armband as USMNT captain to face Panama.
Berhalter is sitting Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie for the first time, going with Djordje Mihailoivic and Cristian Roldan as his attacking midfielders in the team’s 4-3-3 setup. Wil Trapp will serve as the defensive midfielder supporting them, stepping in for Michael Bradley.
Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis will patrol the wing positions, stepping in for Tyler Boyd and Paul Arriola, who have both been impressive through the Gold Cup. Morris was outstanding off the bench in the USMNT’s 6-0 romp over Trinidad and Tobago, and will deploy on the right wing, with Lewis working on the left.
Defensively, Matt Miazga makes his first start of this Gold Cup, and will look to replicate his Gold Cup group stage success of 2017, when he started and scored an important goal in the USMNT’s group stage finale to secure first place in the group. Daniel Lovitz steps in for Tim Ream at left back, while Reggie Cannon gets the call in place of Nick Lima at right back.
New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson gets the nod in goal, stepping in for Zack Steffen, who posted shutouts in the team’s first two group stage matches.
The USMNT will be facing a Panama side that is also resting several key starters, including Roman Torres, Michael Murillo, Alberto Quintero and Armando Cooper. The Canaleros will have some veteran representation in their lineup, with forward Gabriel Torres and defenders Adolfo Machado and Harold Cummings providing expeience.
The Americans can secure first place in Group D with a win or a draw, which would set up a quarterfinal match against surprise quarterfinalist Curacao. A Panama win over the make-shift U.S. lineup would mean a quarterfinal match between the United States and Jamaica, which would be a rematch of the 2017 Gold Cup final, and a rematch of a friendly played earlier in June, which Jamaica won 1-0 at Audi Field.
The U.S. team will play in the Gold Cup quarterfinals on Saturday in Philadelphia, with Wednesday’s match determining which opponent the Americans will face.
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