USMNT stock watch: Strikers disappoint again and Chris Richards is missed

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USA Today

It was a shaky performance versus Uruguay but a 0-0 draw at Kansas City on Sunday was a fair result. Gregg Berhalter exhausted all of his subs but used a tighter rotation than the one against Morocco as Malik Tillman and Cameron Carter-Vickers didn’t make appearances this time around. Jordan Morris and Kellyn Acosta are the only players who didn’t appear in either friendly as Acosta is being rested due to fitness concerns from Los Angeles FC.

But with the friendly being used to figure out who has a shot at making the World Cup roster, who helped/hurt their case? Here are our picks from the game.

Just a disclaimer, as it was a friendly only so much can be taken from the match even with it being an opponent of such a high level such as Uruguay. One performance won’t make or break any of these players as consistency will be key when Berhalter makes his decisions.

Stock Up: Chris Richards

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s not that Aaron Long did badly considering the circumstances but over 135 minutes in two games, he also didn’t do enough to say he should be the clear cut starter next to Walker Zimmerman. Erik Palmer-Brown was given a tough assignment as he’s more comfortable in a back three but he was shaky at best against Uruguay. Richards missed the entire camp as he recovers from an injury, but he should be given every chance possible to start heading into the World Cup. There won’t be much time to test out new things but assuming that he’ll still be a starting center back in a top-five league, he should be making the trip to Qatar.

Stock Down: The United States strikers

We’re getting closer and closer to needing to try Tim Weah at the nine. While goalscoring isn’t the only thing that a forward needs to bring to the table, a proper nine would have won this game for the United States. Heading into the World Cup with Jesus Ferreira, Ricardo Pepi, Haji Wright and whoever else is called up is nothing short of concerning. 

Playing Weah at the nine also solves another issue for Berhalter of using his team’s strength to their advantage. Similar to how England has to find space for three world class right backs, Brenden Aaronson, Gio Reyna or Weah can’t sit on the bench while the strikers struggle to produce. Berhalter is running out of time to try this solution, but it feels like something needs to be done as Ferreira missed important chances and Wright was marked out of the game.

Stock Up:  Yunus Musah

Is Musah someone who plays up to his competition? After a shaky match against Morocco, Musah took some hits early for Uruguay and responded by keeping the ball on his foot like a magnet. He was able to be a reliable outlet taking pressure off of the defense and wasn’t dispossessed in the match. Also creating two chances, Musah did much better against Uruguay providing confidence that Berhalter’s midfield three of Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Musah is essentially set. He could do better when it comes to his decisions on passing but that will come with time.

Stock Down: Paul Arriola

This isn’t a match that will decide if Arriola is making the trip to Qatar or not, but it will decide what game states and positions he is used in. Brought in at the half for Weah, Arriola only attempted 10 passes in 45 minutes. He was okay when it came to defensive work rate winning most of his ground duels, but he didn’t do nearly enough to help change a draw into a victory. 

The step up from Concacaf competition to the global stage is a big one and maybe the jump on the wing in games versus top opposition are times when Arriola won’t be able to find the match. He is able to play centrally, too, so that could be worth a try in the upcoming Nations League matches.