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United States v Curaçao

Zardes handed starting spot for USMNT against Curacao

02:31 EAT 01/07/2019
Gyasi Zardes USMNT 06182019
The forward is set to lead the line for Gregg Berhalter's side once again, with Jozy Altidore left out of the starting XI

After making wholesale changes in the U.S. national team's final Gold Cup group stage match, Gregg Berhalter is bringing back his original 11 starters for Sunday's quarterfinal clash against Curacao.

Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie lead the attack, with Pulisic wearing the captain's armband for just the second time in his national team career. Columbus Crew striker Gyasi Zardes has been given the nod over Jozy Altidore for the target striker role. Altidore came into the Gold Cup considered the favorite to start, and boosted his case after scoring the winner in Wednesday's group stage victory against Panama, but Zardes earned another start after his strong showing in the team's opening victories.

The same defense that posted shutouts in wins against Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago is back, with Aaron Long partnering with Walker Zimmerman in central defense, with Zimmerman edging out Matt Miazga for the starting role. Tim Ream will feature at left back, where he will face a tough assignment in Cardiff City midfielder Leandro Bacuna, while Nick Lima will feature at right back.

USMNT newcomer Tyler Boyd will reprise his role as the starting right winger, partnering with Paul Arriola on the flanks, earning the start ahead of Seattle Sounders' attacker Jordan Morris, who had made a good case for breaking into the lineup.

Manchester City signing and reported Fortuna Dusseldorf loan target Zack Steffen returns to his role as the team's starting goalkeeper, and will be playing in his hometown market. Both Steffen and Pulisic are Pennsylvania natives.

The United States will be looking to reach the Gold Cup quarterfinals for the ninth straight Gold Cup, with the last time the team lost in a quarterfinal coming in 2000, when the Americans were eliminated by guest participant Colombia in penalty kicks.

The Americans will be taking on a Curacao side that is a considerable underdog, but a team that advanced out of group play courtesy of a victory against Honduras and draw with Jamaica. Curacao standout and PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper Eloy Room will look to build on his outstanding play in the group stage, which earned him Best XI honors for the Gold Cup group phase.

The winner of Sunday's USA-Curacao quarterfinal will face Jamaica in the Gold Cup semifinals on Wednesday in Nashville. Jamaica advanced to the Gold Cup semifinals for the third straight tournament after edging Panama, 1-0, on Sunday's early quarterfinal match at Lincoln Financial Field.