The United States play the Netherlands in the Round of 16 of the World Cup tomorrow. It’s the biggest USMNT game in eight years. Left winger Christian Pulisic and striker Josh Sargent have knocks going into this game. How will the lineup change either of them cannot play? How will this affect Gregg Berhalter’s tactics? Let’s take a look.
USMNT Injuries: What Berhalter Will Do if Pulisic or Sargent Can’t Play Against the Netherlands
First off, the news. Pulisic was injured during his goal against Iran. He clattered into Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, sustaining a lower body injury. He was subbed off at halftime, went to the hospital, and was diagnosed with a pelvic contusion. It was classified as day to day. He posted on social media that there’s no way he’s missing this game. In a press conference leading up to the game, he said “I didn’t get hit in the balls” and that he’s good to go. It’s now been reported that he’s been cleared to play Saturday.
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Just my opinion, no way he’s not playing in this game. I’ve never seem him so energetic and hyped as he was in that press conference. He’ll run on adrenaline and willpower till he gets subbed off tactically or reinjures himself. A medically cleared Pulisic who only plays 45 minutes can still be the most impactful player on this team. We saw it against Iran.
If for some reason theses reports are wrong, I think one of Gio Reyna or Brenden Aaronson starts with the other subbing on in the second half. All this assuming Reyna’s fit.
Sargent left the Iran game in the second half with right ankle soreness. It was described as day to day. Rumblings are less optimistic about him compared to Pulisic. Surprise roster addition Hadji Wright has played up top when it has not been Sargent. With the way the Dutch play, I think Jesús Ferreira is a better fit with his linkup play and what he’ll do in the box. The Americans will not dominate possession. Ferreira is better in transition. I think he starts. If Sargent’s on the bench, he’ll sub on at some point. If not, we’ll see Wright if the USA need to go longball.
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Overall, I don’t think these USMNT injuries will affect Berhalter’s approach. It will be similar to the England game. Press in a 4-4-2 to make the opponent uncomfortable. Play for counter attacks. If they pin the opponent back at times, they’ll go 4-3-3 with the fullbacks going forward. Pulisic not playing will just mean more touches for Tim Weah and then the other winger. It will be interesting to see who takes set pieces sans Pulisic. My guess would be Aaronson but we’ll see.