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USMNT preview

USMNT looks for first place Group D finish vs. Panama on Wednesday

The United States will attempt to win Group D of the 2019 Gold Cup on Wednesday when it hosts Panama in Kansas City (9pm ET, FS1). ASN's Brian Sciaretta previews the game and gives his thoughts as to what he thinks will happen. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 25, 2019
6:00 PM
THE UNITED STATES national team will face Panama on Wednesday night at Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park with first place in Group D on the line. Both teams have already secured a spot in the quarterfinals but the winner of this game will win the group with the U.S. team holding the edge if there is a draw.

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter has started the same lineup in each of the U.S. team’s first two games – a 4-0 win over Guyana and a 6-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago. But it would not be surprising to see Berhalter make widespread changes against Panama – both to give rest to the starters and to allow others a chance to prove themselves in important situations.

Like in the first two games, Berhalter is likely to start the game with four in the back with the right back likely to press forward and the left back likely to remain further back. The lone No. 6 midfielder will act as a deeper-lying playmaker with two No. 10 attacking midfielders ahead of the No. 6, two wingers, and a lone forward.

ASN’s predicted starting XI

Important test for players

There are a lot of players who have a lot to gain if Berhalter goes with sweeping substitutions.

The most obvious would be Jozy Altidore who has not scored for the United States national team since 2017 but is looking to prove that he is still the best U.S. forward in the game right now. Gyasi Zardes has three goals so far in this tournament but Altidore has been sharp for Toronto since returning from his foot injury.

Central defender Matt Miazga is also one who could stand to benefit a lot as he is coming off a strong second half of the season with Reading but is now looking to cement himself as one of the top two U.S. starting central defenders.

Another big question will be the ability of Cristian Roldan and Djordje Mihailovic to create offense. Roldan is yet to find a defining performance for the U.S. team and other central midfielders like Jackson Yueill, Duane Holmes, and Paxton Pomykal could force him out. Mihailovic is in a similar situation and had a poor outing against Jamaica before the Gold Cup but at 20, he is still on the younger side.

But after being shutout in the pre-Gold Cup friendlies, the U.S. offense has sprung to life with a variety of goal scorers. The question will be which players can score or create chances without key players Christian Pulisic and Weston Mckennie on the field. In addition, the wing production of Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd has been effective. But if Berhalter goes with a slew of substitutions, other players will be forced to step up. If successful, it will only build depth within the U.S. team.

Entering into this game, Weston McKennie is the only U.S. player carrying a yellow card who is at risk for a suspension should he acquire another one.

Like the U.S. team, Panama is entering the game with wins in each of its first two games – a 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago followed by a 4-2 win over Guyana. Panama has six different goal scorers for its six different goals scored in the tournament. It’s captain, Roman Torres, is well known to American fans as a mainstay on the backline of the Seattle Sounders.

The winner of Group D will face the second-place finisher from Group C. The runner up from Group D will face the winner of Group C. The likely top two finishers from Group C are Jamaica and El Salvador, although that order is still to be determined.

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