Our Pick for the USMNT's Starting XI Against Wales in its World Cup Opener

It’s tough to predict the US men’s national team’s starting XI ahead of the World Cup. From the goalkeeper to the forwards, a bunch of names could make it in with just over three months to go.

Here, we look ahead to the first game against Wales on Nov. 21 and predict the starting XI for the USMNT.

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Goalkeeper – Matt Turner

Although it looks like Turner will be No. 1, he is unlikely to head into the tournament with much game time under his belt. 

He has joined Arsenal this season and is playing as the backup keeper to Aaron Ramsdale and there’s no chance he gets in ahead of the Englishman other than through injury.

Nevertheless, it seems almost sure he will remain as the country’s main goalkeeper and start against Wales. 

Zack Steffen has a good chance to take this spot as he will now be playing most games for Middlesbrough, but he hasn’t started well and plays in the Championship League, a level below that of Turner in the Premier League.

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Defense – Antonee Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, Sergiño Dest

The defense all but picks itself for the USMNT. Sergiño Dest has been given more responsibility at Barcelona this season, and a big year is for the Spanish club after a sensational transfer window. At the same time, there is no better American right-back around these days, with DeAndre Yedlin not quite on his level.

Walker Zimmerman of Nashville should be the leader in defense and he will likely head into the World Cup off an impressive MLS season where Nashville should be in the playoffs. Zimmerman is also not shy about scoring a goal either, netting three already in 31 international caps. And as far as goalscoring defenders go, not many boast more goals than his eight in 78 games for Nashville.

Antonee Robinson is the only real choice at left-back as well, and now he’s back in the Premier League with Fulham, he will be one of the first picks from manager Gregg Berhalter.

Aaron Long will likely battle with Chris Richards to get into the starting XI, but given how Richards is unlikely to play much for Crystal Palace this season, Long should sit alongside Zimmerman. The New York Red Bulls defender has been excellent in 2022, and his side has one of the best defensive records in the MLS.

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Midfield – Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Tyler Adams

While there are healthy choices for Berhalter in defense, in midfield, it’s pretty much a no-brainer as to who plays here, barring any injuries or bad form. Weston McKennie of Juventus remains one of the main men for the USMNT, and with Paulo Dybala leaving his club, McKennie is now set to be more important than ever for Juventus this season.

Yunus Musah of Valencia is another integral element to his respective club. His mix of offense and defense, combined with his incredible athleticism at just 19, makes him one of America’s most promising talents for the future.

Tyler Adams has joined Leeds United this season, and his defensive excellence will be key to making sure things tick between these three players in midfield.

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Forwards – Christian Pulisic, Jesus Ferreira, Brenden Aaronson

Similarly to the midfield, the forwards pick themselves. Christian Pulisic might not start every game for Chelsea these days, but regardless of what he’s up to in the Premier League, he remains the main man for his country.

Brenden Aaronson has gotten off to a flying start at Leeds United this season, as he almost scored a goal in the win over Wolves before it was overturned to an own goal by the opposition. 

With Pulisic and Aaronson likely starting, the battle for the other place in the forward line will be between Timothy Weah and Jesus Ferreira. Weah scored only three goals in 35 games last season for Lille, and with Canada’s Jonathan David continuing to be its main man, attention is likely to turn to Jesus Ferreira for Berhalter.

Ferreira has been one of Major League Soccer’s best players this season with 12 goals from 25 games so far. He has also scored five goals in eight caps for the USMNT in 2022, and it would be surprising to see him drop out for Weah based on that.

Gio Reyna of Borussia Dortmund needs to be mentioned here, too. However, he cannot seem to stay fit for that many games and get into the Dortmund team consistently when he is not injured. If the 19-year-old can get back into his club’s starting XI, he might have a say in being on the team over Aaronson.

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