By Official Florida FC
The soccer world is in the midst of a pandemic pause.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been diagnosed in more than a million Americans and killed more than 60,000 of them. Overcoming the pandemic is far more important than soccer.
The lack of games for the last six weeks allowed us at Official Florida FC to think about who should be in the starting XI if the United States men’s national team played a competitive match tomorrow.
Since the American’s failed attempt at qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, one could argue that it has never had its best XI available at the same time.
Tyler Adams has appeared with Weston McKinnie and Christian Pulisic twice in the last 24 months; Aaron Long and John Anthony Brooks have made two appearances together and meanwhile the two fullbacks, Reggie Cannon and Sergino Dest, had yet to make their breakthrough for the team until late last year.
As has been the case in recent years, our ideal USMNT XI does not have a lot of Florida flavor. Only one player has a genuine tie to the Sunshine State. No one from Orlando City, or Inter Miami would merit a place in our lineup, or ideal match day XI.
Our lineup under the presumption that everyone is healthy and the USMNT is using the 4-3-3 system that manager Gregg Berhalter has preferred since his appointment as manager.
The future is now for the 25-year-old who is playing on loan for Fortuna Dusseldorf in the German Bundesliga. He showed his mettle during hte 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup and has not done anything between the pipes to merit losing his place–the knee injury he suffered in training late last month notwithstanding.
Sergino Dest and Reggie Cannon have the speed, technical ability and creativity to be mainstays at the two fullback positions for the next decade.
In the center of the defense, Aaron Long and John Anthony Brooks are a pair of 27-year-olds who are astute at putting out fires before they arise. With the right protection, the two could be the best central defense in CONCACAF.
Tyler Adams is an every match starter for a team that is in the hunt for the Bundesliga title and making deep runs in the UEFA Champions League. He is a plug-and-play selection at the back of the USMNT midfield.
Weston McKinnnie doesn’t always play to his potential, when appearing for the USMNT; but, the talent is there. He will would serve as a dynamic No. 8 in this ideal USMNT starting XI.
Sebastian Lletget has never lost an international match he’s started. The stat sounds more impressive than reality, considering the 27-year-old has earned only 14 caps and made five starts.
Paul Arriola may never become a high-scoring winger/forward in the mold of Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones or a younger DaMarcus Beasley; but, the 25-year-old Californian makes the right runs in attack, provides cover when thhe Americans are defending and did score during both the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup as well as 2018 World Cup qualifying.
Christian Pulisic is the first name on the teamsheet. He is 21 and evolving at a blistering rate. The last American attacker to see substantial playing time in the English Premier League was Clint Dempsey– we know how well that worked out for the stars and stripes.
Our center forward is Jozy Altidore. Josh Sargent is pushing the grizzled veteran; but, Altidore’s ability to create space for others and convert his chances at a higher clip than anyone else in the USMNT pool are why the 31-year-old is the prohibitive starter for the USMNT.
The Seattle Sounders are the MLS Cup champions and have two players, Cristian Roldan (midfield) and Jordan Morris (winger) who would be super subs if the entire USMNT were healthy.
Tim Weah has had a disasterous 12 months on the injury front, tearing his hamstring last fall, and sustaining a leg injury in February. That said, the 20-year-old would be another outstanding attacking option for the Americans in this ideal XI.
Walker Zimmerman and Matt Miazga would provide cover at center back. DeAndre Yedlin would deputize at right fullback and Brad Guzan would provide a safe pair of gloves as the reserve goalkeeper if this exercise were to be extended into an ideal match day 18.