USMNT and Chile Play Tomorrow in Houston-Match Preview

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United States Men’s Soccer Head Coach Gregg Berhalter at a March 6th Houston press conference

When the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) and Chile play Tuesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, it will be the 11th time they have met in international competition. The first meeting occurred in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil and the last a 2015 friendly played in Chile. The overall U.S. record vs. Chile is 3-5-2. In friendlies played at home, the USMNT has a record of 1-2-2. Chile has recent good memories in the U.S., as it was in New Jersey where they hoisted the 2016 Copa America Centenario trophy after defeating Argentina on penalties.

Previous Houston USMNT match history in link below:

United States Men’s National Team Soccer History in Houston

Chile Update:

“La Roja”, like the United States, are in a transitional stage after surprisingly failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Coach Reinaldo Rueda, who took over early in 2018, has led the team to mixed results. On Friday night, Chile lost 3-1 to Mexico in San Diego, conceding three second half goals. The lineup against Mexico included four starters from the side that won Copa America Centenario.

The team Rueda is training for the Copa America in Brazil this summer is still an experienced one. 6 of the 24 players who comprise the roster playing two friendlies in the U.S. during this international window have over 50 international caps for their country. This list includes four highly regarded veteran defenders and star FC Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal.

The Chileans are experimenting with an inexperienced attacking group on this trip. LigaMX side Club America’s Nicholas Castillo, with 19 caps, is the most experienced forward on the roster. He scored the only goal in the loss to Mexico a few days ago. Colorado Rapids forward Diego Rubio is the only Major League Soccer player who is part of this roster. Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez, who is the leading all-time scorer for La Roja, is injured and did not travel to the United States for these matches. His long-time strike partner Eduardo Vargas, who Houston Dynamo fans recently saw a few weeks ago in Houston for a Champions League match with Tigres, has not played for Chile recently and isn’t part of this roster.

Here is the Chilean roster (Courtesy of U.S. Soccer):

Goalkeepers (3): Gabriel Arias (Racing/ARG; 4/0), Brayan Cortés (Colo-Colo; 2/0), Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon Town/ENG; 0/0)

Defenders (9): Paulo Díaz (Al-Ahli/KSA; 16/0), Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahçe/TUR; 106/4), Gonzalo Jara (Estudiantes La Plata/ARG; 111/3), Igor Lichnovsky (Cruz Azul/MEX; 5/0), Guillermo Maripán (Deportivo Alavés/ESP; 14/2), Gary Medel (Besiktas/TUR; 117/7), Eugenio Mena (Racing/ARG; 56/3),  Óscar Opazo (Colo-Colo; 5/0), Sebastián Vegas (Morelia/MEX; 4/1)

Midfielders (8): Charles Aránguiz (Bayer Leverkusen/GER; 68/7), Pablo Hernández (Independiente/ARG; 26/3), Jimmy Martínez (Universidad de Chile; 3/0), Jean Meneses (Club León/MEX; 0/0), Esteban Pavez (Colo-Colo; 3/0), Erick Pulgar (Bologna/ITA; 14/0), Diego Valdés (Santos Laguna/MEX; 9/1), Arturo Vidal (Barcelona/ESP; 106/26)

Forwards (4): Nicolás Castillo (Club América/MEX; 19/4), Felipe Mora (Pumas UNAM/MEX; 3/0), Iván Morales (Colo-Colo; 1/0), Diego Rubio (Colorado Rapids/USA; 4/0)

United States Update:

After the USMNT 1-0 victory over a very defensive Ecuador side, new Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has promised changes to the team that lined up in Orlando last Thursday. Young midfielder Tyler Adams and Texan Weston McKennie will not be part of the lineup in Houston. Adams has returned to his club in Germany and McKennie is out of this match due to an ankle injury suffered against Ecuador. It is likely that Nick Lima and Christian Roldan will replace Adams and McKennie respectively. Other reports project that Ethan Horvath will replace Sean Johnson in goal and DeAndre Yedlin, who is being pushed forward from right back to play as a winger in Berhalter’s 4-3-3 system, will replace Jordan Morris.

In a May 23rd article from Jeff Carlisle, Berhalter talked about how different he thought the Chile match would play out vs. Ecuador. “It’s going to be a physical challenge, they’re going to be pressing us, it’s going to be high energy,” Berhalter said. “For us, it’s about coming to terms with that and dealing with it.”

Here is the latest United States roster: (U.S. Soccer)

Goalkeepers (3): 12-Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas; 0/0), 22-Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/Belgium; 3/0), 1-Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 7/0)

Defenders (8): 5-John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 37/3), 3-Omar Gonzalez (Atlas/MEX; 48/3), 24-Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), 23-Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 5/0), 16-Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact; 2/0), 19-Matt Miazga (Reading, ENG; 11/1), 13-Tim Ream (Fulham, ENG; 27/1), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, ENG; 58/0)

Midfielders (5): 4-Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, CAN; 144/17), 17-Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 8/2), 10-Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 24/9), 15-Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 8/0), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 14/0)

Forwards (6): 7-Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 20/3), 20-Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 2/0), 18-Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; 3/0), 11-Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 26/5), 21-Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 2/1), 9-Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 43/7)

Last week the Washington Post’s Steven Goff reported that only 10,000 tickets had been sold for Tuesday night. I hope that ticket sales leading up to the match raise that attendance figure significantly, but in the absence of a famous world-power club, country or Mexico to draw fans, it will be challenging.

Berhalter, who has led the USMNT to three consecutive shutout wins since taking over as coach, is methodically building towards this summer’s Gold Cup and the 2022 World Cup. Hopefully this match against a top quality side (currently #13 according to FIFA rankings) will be another piece in the puzzle that moves us one further step away from the October 2017 nightmare in Trinidad when the USMNT was eliminated from the World Cup.

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