International Friendly: USA vs Paraguay – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Wednesday morning’s fixture between USA and Paraguay sees two teams clash who failed to qualify for the World Cup.
00:30 BST, Wednesday 28th March, WakeMed Soccer Park (Cary, NC, United States)
In a match which could be touted as the World Cup Disappointment Derby, USA welcome Paraguay to North Carolina on Wednesday morning BST with both teams attempting to overcome their respective failures to book a place in Russia this summer.
For the USA, their failure to progress from the CONCACAF Hex came at the hands of a Panama ghost goal against Costa Rica, a goal which condemned the USAMNT – who had lost themselves to Trinidad and Tobago – to another four years without a World Cup place.
Paraguay’s failure was equally as disappointing: missing out after losing to a Venezuela team who had nothing to play for having failed to win in the CONMEBOL qualifying group.
Wednesday’s game sees Gustavo Morinigo take charge of Paraguay for his first game as manager and he will be hoping to ease his way into the international scene with a win.
His counterpart, Dave Sarachan, is currently the interim manager for the USA Men’s National Team. With good results against Portugal and Bosnia-Herzegovina to his name, there will be some punters who will be calling for his position to be made permanent.
Last Time Out
USA 0-0 Bosnia-Herzegovina (International Friendly)
Despite the fact that they were understrength, Bosnia-Herzegovina will have been disappointed to have lost after Zack Steffen saved Haris Medunjanin’s second-half penalty.
Given that the match fell outside of a FIFA international fixture window, Bosnia were without Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic, Vedad Ibisevic and Asmir Begovic, as both sides fielded largely domestic-based players for the game.
Although the USA were second best for much of the game, Dave Sarachan will have been pleased that his side managed to compete against an established European side for the second time under his tenure.
Paraguay 0-1 Venezuela (World Cup Qualifying)
Needing a win to have a hope of making it to Russia for the World Cup, Paraguay would have been feeling confident ahead of the visit of Venezuela. Home advantage against a team who had nothing to play for and no win to their name in the group, it looked certain that the Paraguayan’s were headed to the World Cup.
In the end, though, they ended up losing to an 85th-minute Derlis Gonzalez finish that broke Paraguayan hearts.
The result saw manager Francisco Arce losing his job to be replaced by Gustavo Morinigo.
Despite Zack Steffen’s heroics in the last match, Bill Hamid is likely to be preferred in goal.
Up front, Timothy Weah is available but Sarachan is likely to go with the taller Andrija Novakovich for the opening exchanges, with Weah coming on later.
With only Víctor Cáceres unavailable through injury, Gustavo Morinigo has an otherwise full squad to pick from.
Key Battle: Weston McKennie (USA) vs Miguel Almiron (Paraguay)
Having moved to Germany from FC Dallas in 2016, Weston has been enjoying an impressive break-out season for Schalke 04, making 17 appearances for the Bundesliga outfit who currently sit second in the league.
Playing predominantly in the central midfield area, McKennie can play either in a defensive or attacking role. Against Paraguay, he will be looking to put his experience in the German top division into practice.
His opposite number on Wednesday will be Miguel Almiron. The Atlanta United star functions as a standard number 10 with an impressive passing range and great vision.
If Paraguay are going to create chances, they are likely to come through the 24 year old.
A new era for the USMNT?
Following the appointment of Carlos Cordeiro as the president of the US Soccer Federation, the USA Men’s National Team is about to enter a new period.
With Dave Sarachan interimming for the team, the question is: where the USMNT goes from here?
If he pulls off a victory against Paraguay, it will look increasingly difficult not to begin considering him as a full-time appointment.
Whatever happens, fans of the USA Men’s National Team will be hoping that a positive result presages the arrival of a positive era for their side.
Prediction: USA 1-1 Paraguay
Continuing their not unimpressive series of draws following their World Cup disappointment, expect another draw on Wednesday.
This is a match in which both sides will be invested in the result that, inevitably, it could become a tetchy affair.