The United States Men’s National Team plays Ecuador on Thursday at Orlando City Stadium. Gregg Berhalter started his tenure out with two wins in the January camp. The U.S. beat Panama 3-0 on Jan. 27, and Costa Rica 2-0 on Feb. 2. That camp, as is typical of a January camp, heavily featured domestic players.
Now, Berhalter has his full selection available. Players like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie are in their first camps as the ex-Columbus Crew coach looks to build off of a strong January camp.
Once again, there is a large number of younger players called up. However, there is also a lot of veteran experience.
Are you wondering who you should watch for to make an impact on Thursday? Here are a few guys to keep an eye out for.
The Big-Name Guys
Berhalter called up a few high-profile players, and these guys don’t need much explaining as to why you should watch out for them. Pulisic is the best American right now and changes the game at the club and international level. He’ll be a key figure in the game and will likely be the most entertaining player on the field.
Michael Bradley is another high-profile player, but he has the opposite effect of Pulisic right now. He is by far the most experienced player — he has 86 more caps than the second-most capped player, Deandre Yedlin. While his experience is invaluable to the younger players, his production on the field needs to be there still. If someone like McKennie or Wil Trapp can come in and play that No. 6 role just as well, or better, than Bradley, then his international career will not last much longer.
The other big-name player is John Brooks. When healthy, Brooks is the clear first-choice center back for the U.S. However, his career has been plagued by injuries. Can this be the year for him to stay healthy and become a consistent figure in Berhalter’s team?
Tyler Adams and DeAndre Yedlin
Both Yedlin and Adams will be playing in new positions on Thursday. Adams will be playing as a right wing back, the spot typically held by Yedlin. Yedlin will then move up the field to the right wing.
Yedlin is the best right back on the team, so perhaps this is a move by Berhalter is to see what other options he has. This roster is light on wingers. Both players have the skill sets to play their new respective positions. Yedlin always gets forward, but what will he look like playing that high up the field? Adams is a superb defender, but can he do so out wide, as opposed to in the center? And how will he do in getting forward?
Let’s be honest here: This attacking group of Paul Arriola, Corey Baird, Jonathan Lewis, Jordan Morris, Christian Ramirez, and Gyasi Zardes is poor. Without Tim Weah, Bobby Wood, Jozy Altidore and Josh Sargent, there is little striker power in among the Americans. Zardes typically does well in MLS (19 goals last year and two goals in three games this season), but the 27-year-old struggles at the international level. One of these players will need to step up and prove that they can play at this level. The forwards have the most intriguing positional battle right now, and Thursday will be a big eye opener on who is winning it.