Monday’s international friendly action sees USA playing host to Bolivia. After missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1986, the US will be looking to pick up a morale boosting victory in front of the home crowd.
With failing to qualify having opened up a huge debate as regards the state of American football right from grassroots football up to the very top, interim boss Dave Sarachan has once again called up a young squad as the nation looks to shake off disappointment and build for the future.
Key to that is star player Christian Pulisic, who makes his return to the squad having been allowed rest for March’s 1-0 friendly win over Paraguay. Pulisic joins a squad with an average age of just under 23 years and will be looking to play his part in building on some encouraging friendly performances since qualification failure, with the aforementioned win over Paraguay joining draws with both Bosnia and Portugal.
Meanwhile, Bolivia once again missed on the World Cup, putting in some truly wretched performances in South American qualification, finishing second bottom with just 14 points from 18 matches.
Such poor performances have prompted change in the dugout, with ex-Venezuela boss Cesar Farias having been appointed boss. Nonetheless, still with club duties to fulfil, Farias will not be able to travel to the US for this fixture, instead handing the reins of the squad he’s selected over to close friend Eduardo Fentanes on a one-off basis.
Ultimately this a match the hosts should be winning with relative comfort. Both nations have called up inexperienced squads, with most of Bolivia’s travelling party possessing few or no caps, but man for man, the US look by far the stronger side with players coming from much higher pedigree.
Bolivia are typically a competitive outfit on their own patch, with altitude behind them but when you ask them to travel, they tend to be whipping boys. Indeed, the last meeting between the two back in 2016 ended in a 4-0 US win on American soil and the visitors look up against it once again this time around.
As such, backing a US win to nil looks the way to play. They’ve kept clean sheets in each of their last 3 home games and should be able to build on an 11 match home friendly unbeaten run, with a 2-0 margin of victory on the cards.
USA possible starting XI: Hamid; Lichaj, Carter-Vickers, Zimmerman, Villafana; Pulisic, McKennie, Corona; Weah, Sargent, Green..
Bolivia possible starting XI: Lampe; Anez; Coimbra, Haquim, Sagredo; Bejarano, Maygua, Vargas; Vaca, Miranda, Vargas.
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The sides last met in a 2016 friendly, with the US recording a comfortable 4-0 win. That was the only meeting between the two in recent years, but was also the US’ first win over Bolivia in 7 attempts.
The most notable inclusion in the US squad is the return of Dortmund star Christian Pulisic. It’s a young squad once again, with the average age of those selected just under 23 years old.
Cesar Farias has called up a very inexperienced squad. 11 of those included are uncapped whilst Goalkeeper Carlos Lampe is the most experienced member of the travelling party, despite having onlu picked up 21 caps.