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Creating a dynamic, injury-proof USMNT depth chart

We’re laying out a series of scenarios to explain what the United States’ starting lineup would look like when key players aren’t available.

9 min read
Design: Peyton Gallaher

The United States men’s national team was in action for nearly an entire month this summer, competing in two different Concacaf competitions with two very different squads: they tackled the Nations League with the first-choice group before entering the Gold Cup with a mostly junior varsity roster. There have also been several notable transfers for key U.S. players – including Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Yunus Musah, and Tyler Adams – with more expected in the coming weeks.

With that summer action in the rearview mirror and a new European club season underway, now is a sensible time to assess a player pool that’s expected to make a run at the Copa América in less than a year.

Instead of building a standard depth chart that only lists a given player at one position, we’re laying out a series of scenarios explaining what the starting lineup would look like if and when certain players aren’t available.

Think of it as a “dynamic depth chart.”

A depth chart ranks players at their respective positions but it doesn’t prescribe what would really happen if a first choice player is out. Many players can conceivably fit into the lineup at more than one position, and there’s a fairly clear group of about 15 to 16 players (for now) that Gregg Berhalter should prioritize starting when someone is inevitably unavailable. We’ll elaborate on each position and try to cover all the lineup permutations, but first it’s worth noting that variables (primarily the opponent and the matchups they may present) will influence who starts or replaces presumptive starters.

The assumption is that the U.S. will line up in a 4-3-3, but there’s more on a change of system below. Let’s get into it.

Goalkeeper

Starting goalkeeper: Matt Turner

If Matt Turner isn’t available… it’s hard to feel strongly about any of the other candidates. At this point club form is probably the deciding factor among Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson – hopefully Steffen and Horvath find stable club situations this summer.

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