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How will the USMNT play Brazil? Here is what to watch for

Dave Sarachan has a lot of different ways he can play against the poweful and favored Brazil team on Friday night. ASN's Brian Sciaretta looks at some of the options the coach has at his disposal.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 05, 2018
9:00 PM
MORRISTOWN, N.J. – The United States national team is set to face Brazil on Friday night and it will pose yet another big challenge the teams is undertaking since the end of its World Cup qualifying campaign last year.

After the 1-1 draw against France in June, Dave Sarachan’s team will have momentum in its second straight game against one of the world’s best teams.

So how will the U.S. team play against Brazil?

Here are some thing things to watch for

Three in the back

Sarachan used a three-man central defense line against France and it worked well. The backline consisted of Tim Parker, Matt Miazga, and Cameron Carter-Vickers and the three were in synch defensively. Most importantly, it allowed the fullback duo of Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore to push into the attack easier.

Against Brazil, Sarachan has many of the same defenders although there is the addition of John Brooks. BILD reported earlier in the week that Brooks was going to return to German after the Brazil game and not take part against. That report is credible and is would point to Brooks being a lock starter against Brazil.

A lot of signs point to a three-man central defense line. In addition to momentum, DeAndre Yedlin is playing well and Yedlin and Robinson represent the fast American fullback duo in memory. Yedlin is also becoming more familiar with the wingback position at Newcastle.

Without a number 10 creator in the midfield, a likely source of chances will be from the flanks. Yedlin and Robinson as wingbacks could open up more opportunities from wide positions.

Central midfield set up

One of the interesting aspects of the U.S. roster is that it is very heavy on No. 8 midfielders (McKennie, Adams, Acosta, and Delgado). Wil Trapp likes to play a little bit deeper and Cristian Roldan play more into the attack, although neither play the No 10. Regularly.

The most likely scenario is that Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie start. Wil Trapp has a good chance as well as Sarachan has even given him the captain’s armband in 2018.

Sarachan will probably add a fourth midfielder in either a 4-4-2 or a 5-4-1.

So who will the fourth midfielder be? Sebastian Lletget would have been a good option before he withdrew from camp due to injury since he is a player who Sarachan is very familiar with. Another potential option is Julian Green who does provide a bit more speed. Tim Weah is listed as a midfielder but has played center forward for Paris St. Germain.

The forward options

Who starts up top is a tough guess. It is possible that Sarachan goes to a 4-4-2 but the likelihood is that he uses a one center forward set up.

If there is one forward, a good guess to start is Bobby Wood who is back in the Bundesliga with Hannover but is coming off a poor season.

Tim Weah, Gyasi Zardes, and Andrija Novakovich are also options and each brings their own strengths. Weah is tough to determine how he will be utilized given his versatility but should feature in the game – even if off the bench.

The 4-3-3?

A three man central defense lineup is certainly not a lock. A 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1, or even a 4-3-3 are still options.

The problem with these lineups, might be a lack of wingers or outside midfielders. Darlington Nagbe, Kenny Saief, and Christian Pulisic are all hurt.

Tim Weah, Julian Green, Sebatian Lletget, and Paul Arriola can play on the wing positions although Arriola is the only player who plays on the outside regularly for his club.

A potential starting XI

This is tough to predict given the range of different formations that Sarachan has used this year, but this might make sense given his history.

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen
Leftwing back: Antonee Robinson
Central defender: Matt Miazga
Central defender: John Brooks
Central defender: Tim Parker
Right wingback: Dandre Yedlin
Defensive midfielder: Wil Trapp
Central midfielder: Tyler Adams
Central Midfielder: Weston McKennie
Attacking midfielder: Julian Green
Forward: Bobby Wood

Second half subs: Tim Weah, Paul Arriola, Kellyn Acosta, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Gyasi Zardes

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