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Aaronson to start but still no Reyna? How the USMNT should line up against England in crucial World Cup clash

12:00 AM SGT 25/11/22
Aaronson Berhalter Reyna GFX
Gregg Berhalter has some tough decisions to make as the U.S. aim to take another step towards qualifying for the knockout rounds

The U.S. men's national team will have to do something special to get a result on Friday. After a 1-1 draw with Wales that felt a lot more like two points dropped rather than one point gained, the U.S. now head into a clash with an England team that look like a juggernaut.

The Three Lions swept aside Iran 6-2 in their opener, making a statement right from the start: this group is theirs.

The USMNT enter this one as underdogs, and rightfully so. Few teams can go man-for-man against England, who boast one of the most talented teams in the world. They've been to the final four of their last two major tournaments for good reason.

However, the USMNT's World Cup fate may come down to their ability to steal a point in this game, or at least manage how much they lose by. A lopsided loss would be a catastrophe. as the group could very well come down to goal differential.

Entering the game, though, the U.S. have a number of lineup decisions. Three key players are on yellow cards, while two of those three are also just returning from injury. There could be changes at striker and in midfield. And, finally, maybe we'll find out what's really up with Gio Reyna.

With that said, here's a look at what the USMNT could look like against England:

  • Turner USMNT 2022

    GK: Matt Turner

    No doubt about this one; Turner isn't going anywhere.

    He wasn't perfect against Wales, with his nervy late-game giveaway nearly costing the USMNT. The Arsenal goalkeeper also came within inches of keeping out Gareth Bale's penalty, but was unable to get more than a fingertip to it.

    Still, Turner's shot-stopping will be a major asset against an England team that are certain to test the keeper more than Wales did.

  • Robinson USMNT World Cup 2022

    LB: Antonee Robinson

    An unquestioned starter, Robinson's familiarity with England's team will be a big help.

    He'll have faced almost all of England's players at some point in his career, so there won't be any real surprises down that left-hand side. Plus, with Christian Pulisic often dragging defenders in, Robinson's ability to push forward could certainly unbalance a shaky England defense.

    Lock Robinson in as a no-doubter.

  • Tim Ream USMNT Wales World Cup 2022

    CB: Tim Ream

    How could you drop him after that performance against Wales?

    Ream couldn't have been more solid in his World Cup debut, with the 35-year-old defender more than making up for lost time. He was incredibly steady and helped limit Gareth Bale to basically nothing in open play.

    Add in his experience against English opposition and you've got a pretty easy decision when it comes to his starting spot.

  • Walker Zimmerman USMNT Wales react 2022

    CB: Walker Zimmerman

    Let's not overreact here. Yes, it was a bad tackle. Yes, it cost the USMNT points. But no, Zimmerman isn't getting dropped.

    Zimmerman had a fine game aside from that one bad challenge, and every defender is due for a bad challenge every once in a while. It's unfortunate that Zimmerman's came when it did. So it goes.

    He's still the starting centerback and is a safe bet to start against England.

  • DeAndre Yedlin USMNT United States World Cup 2022

    RB: DeAndre Yedlin

    One of the big calls Berhalter will have to make.

    Sergino Dest is working his way back towards full fitness and, making matters worse, he's on a yellow card. There's such little room for error now and, against an England team with such a talented attack, can you risk it?

    Fortunately for the U.S., there is a perfect second option in Yedlin, a player with both World Cup and Premier League experience. Whether he ultimately lines up against Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka or whichever superstar attacker England goes for, Yedlin should be just fine.

    He doesn't attack as well as Dest does but, in a game where England will have the ball plenty, the AC Milan may need to be sacrificed for a more steady, fit replacement.

  • Adams USMNT 2022 World Cup

    CM: Tyler Adams

    The captain, and perhaps the USMNT's most important player for this one.

    Adams is a pure destroyer, and he'll have to destroy a whole bunch of England attacks if the U.S. are to stand a chance. He was fantastic against Wales, helping lock down Bale, but he'll now have to contend with Harry Kane, even if he is nursing an injury.

    The Premier League experience will also be super useful for a player that seems ready-made for this stage.

  • Musah

    CM: Yunus Musah

    He's probably looking forward to this one.

    The English-raised midfielder came up through the Three Lions' youth setup before opting to join the U.S. senior team. He grew up alongside the likes of Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham, and now he'll be facing them on the biggest stage imagineable.

    Musah was his usual self against Wales, a smooth operator in the midfield. He may have to help bail the U.S. out of some tricky situations with his ability to drive the ball forward and push England back.

  • Aaronson USMNT World Cup 2022

    CM: Brenden Aaronson

    Berhalter's second big decision, and there are three ways he could go.

    The first way is to keep the MMA midfield intact, leaving Weston McKennie in the XI. But McKennie is dealing with fitness issues, having recently returned from injury, and, like Dest, is on a yellow card.

    Gio Reyna is the second option, giving Berhalter a way to get more attacking firepower onto the field. Reyna is probably the USMNT's most creative player on the ball, but does he offer enough defensively to protect against England?

    And then there's the third, Aaronson, who is somewhere in the middle of McKennie and Reyna. Aaronson runs and runs and creates via pressure, making players uncomfortable when he does and doesn't have the ball.

    Aaronson can press England and, if they game calls for it, Berhalter can then turn to either McKennie or Reyna to shake things up either way in the second half.

  • Christian Pulisic clap USMNT Wales 2022

    LW: Christian Pulisic

    Will this be Pulisic's big revenge game?

    He's certainly been criticized by the English press since moving to Chelsea, having bounced in and out of the Blues XI. Now, he'll get the chance to prove himself against a national team featuring several club team-mates, including two that have started over him, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling.

    Pulisic will no doubt be motivated, but will he be effective? He was a bit too wasteful in transition last game, even if he did avoid over-dribbling. He'll need to find that line between being confidence and doing too much if he's to have the impact he wants so desperately.

  • Ferreira USMNT 2022

    ST: Jesus Ferreira

    Josh Sargent was first up, next up may be Jesus Ferreira.

    The FC Dallas forward just seems to be a better fit for this game, even if Sargent does have more experience against Premier League players. The problem for him is that that experience was miserable, even if he is now thriving in the Championship.

    Ferreira offers something a bit different, namely his pressing and creative ability. He'll, in theory, drop deep to help drag out someone like, say, Harry Maguire, allowing one of the two wingers to dash in behind unchallenged.

    If Ferreira does start, that will be his primary function: helping make the team-mates around him better while hunting for a goal of his own if the situation arises.

  • Timothy Weah United States USMNT Wales World Cup 2022

    RW: Tim Weah

    He can't be dropped after that debut, right?

    Weah was fantastic against Wales, with Berhalter making a big call in starting him over Aaronson and Reyna. He repaid his coach's faith with a goal and a performance that showed exactly why he's needed in this team.

    Weah makes smart, intelligent runs that threaten the backline. Berhalter constantly praises his verticality and, against England, the U.S. will likely need a quick counterattack to find the back of the net.

    The Lille star may just be the best bet to do that, which is why he probably should start.

  • USMNT England Lineup projection

    How the USMNT should line up

    Berhalter's preferred 4-3-3 system remains, although it could be slightly tweaked if Aaronson does start. The Leeds star could play as more of a No.10 rather than on either side, leaving Adams and Musah to do the defensive work deeper on the field. That's not to say Aaronson won't defend, because he absolutely will, but from different positions.

    The change on the right would also have ramifications as Yedlin is much, much different player than Dest. He's nowhere near as dynamic as the AC Milan star, but he may not have to be for the U.S. to have a chance in this one.