USMNT vs Jamaica Preview: Despite Pulisic Absence, USA Must Take Points

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The USMNT returns to World Cup Qualifying Thursday night as they take on the Reggae Boyz. The US national side will be looking to get their progress for the Qatar World Cup next December back on track after things got off to a horrible start in the last international window.

The news hasn’t been great out of the camp with both Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic both not fit enough to be selected, there was further injury worry with defender John Brooks being withdrawn from the squad. Regardless of any injury worries, anything less than a victory here will leave the USMNT World Cup dreams on life support.

The roster this time around sees two MLS forwards with plenty of experience return to the national team squad in Paul Arriola and Gyasi Zardes. It also marks the return of Gold Cup squad members, Matthew Hoppe, Shaq Moore & Gianluca Busio.

The Stars and Stripes have a favorable record against the Reggae Boyz, having won 18 of their 29 head-to-head fixtures.

That’s enough of the preamble – let’s get to what the starting lineup may look like.

In goal, I can’t see anybody except for Zack Steffen lining up here. The Manchester City number two is the best ‘keeper in the national team fold at the moment, so I don’t see him being displaced here.

In the full-back positions, I would be very surprised if Sergio Dest doesn’t line up in the right back spot with Antonee Robinson lining up on the left. 

Team USA has been hit hard by injury in the center back position and, for mine, it’s the spot where they are the most vulnerable. I hope to see Chris Richards and Miles Robinson in the center of defense, but Walker Zimmerman is on the cusp and could be in line to make his World Cup qualification debut here. 

The midfield picks itself here, and when you take a look at the names in the squad. Weston McKennie and Sebastian Lletget are slightly more advanced, with Tyler Adams covering them playing slightly more defensively.

The right-wing spot is a toss-up between Yunus Musah and Tim Weah. I’m gonna go with Musah here, but either name in the RW spot would not surprise me. On the left, Brenden Aaronson will start. Playing in the striker position will be 18-year-old FC Dallas sensation, Ricardo Pepi.

Gregg Berhalter desperately needs a win here. Any points dropped this international break could be fatal to his tenure at the head of the USMNT.

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