Fuel Soccer Talk: Game on for USMNT; Is this the year for a U.S.-Mexico final?: Breaking down the MLS teams

Gold Cup: U.S. opens up tonight against Guyana

The U.S. Men’s National Team begins is quest for a seventh confederation championship when it opens up the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup against tournament first-timers Guyana tonight (June 18) in St. Paul, Minn. Coverage from Allianz Field begins at 10 p.m. ET on FS1, UniMas and UDN. Fans can follow all the matches on U.S. Soccer’s official Facebook, Twitter (@USMNT) and Instagram (@USMNT) accounts.

It will be the first competitive match for the U.S. side in almost two years and the first match that matters under the direction of new coach Gregg Berhalter.

Tom Bogert of gave an excellent breakdown of question marks and things to watch heading into the match. Among the questions: What will the starting XI look like?

Bogert states: “If fit, Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie are expected to start in central midfield, with Jozy Altidore up top, Zack Steffen in goal, Nick Lima at right back and Matt Miazga in central defense. Are they all good to go? Who makes up the rest of the XI?”


What are some of your concerns heading into the Gold Cup opener? 

Gold Cup: U.S.-Mexico final would be gold, Jerry

While the US men’s national team and archrivals Mexico have had a near-monopoly on Concacaf Gold Cup trophies since the tournament’s inception, the two continental powers have not met in a final since Mexico’s 4-2 victory in 2011.

That perhaps changes the tone between the two traditional adversaries in 2019, to the point where US winger Paul Arriola admits he enjoyed seeing Mexico’s dominance over Cuba in their 7-0 win to open Group A on Saturday.

“It’s good to see them having some success, and I think everyone wants a USA-Mexico final,” Arriola said on Sunday. “Not to say I’m rooting for them, but it’s good to see them playing with the confidence that they have, and the young kids constantly kind of picking up where the older guys are leaving off.”

Much like the USMNT, Mexico are in the midst of their own generational transition under former Atlanta United coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino. In stark contrast to the United States, which famously crashed out of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the previous Mexico generation most recently guided El Tri to another round-of-16 appearance in Russia.


What is the finals match-up you would like to see?  

Breaking it down at the break for MLS

It’s the Gold Cup break for MLS and a time where players, coaches, team executives, fans, pundits and writers can look back at the early part of the schedule and evaluate and see what went right, what went wrong, what needs to be fixed and what needs to be left alone.
MLS writer Bobby Warshaw broke it down by each team. Here are a few teams:

Atlanta United

Will the South American Player of the Year show up? Pity Martinez has been playing for Atlanta United this year, but the dominant, award-winning, Copa Libertadores-champion 2018 version of Pity Martinez has not. The broader question for Atlanta is whether they can score enough goals. Part of that comes to tactics and style. But it also comes down to the big-money signing making plays when the moments arrive.


Can they maintain enough gas in the tank? This much is clear: If LAFC are healthy and fit, they have a better chance to win the American treble than any team before them. Their ownership should probably start to buy the champagne now to get the advance bulk rates. But we’ve also seen teams across the world get off to those types of starts and fizzle out. They run over everyone for the first few months of the year and then run out of gas or get injuries in the final third of the season. Bob Bradley needs to be diligent about planning his practice sessions and managing his players’ minutes.

Seattle Sounders

Can anyone replace Chad Marshall? Marshall’s defensive contributions were clear: The Sounders secured four shutouts in six playoff games en route to their MLS Cup win in 2016, then conceded the third-fewest goals in the regular season in 2017, then conceded the second-fewest goals in 2018. One would expect their defensive numbers to take a hit without the best defender in league history.

But Marshall was so good that he also improved their attacking output. The Sounders could send their outside backs + one defensive midfielder forward, leaving just three players behind the ball. All of those gorgeous overloads in the wide areas were because they could rely on Marshall to put out fires. Xavier Arreaga, the Sounders’ new DP center back, might be good, but is he that good?

What does your favorite MLS team need to do to improve?


LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

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