The World Cup is finally here for the red, white, and blue! At 2:00 PM EST, the United States Men's National Team will face off against Wales in Qatar. Those watching the USMNT will want to know who to watch for, what are the dynamics of the team, etc. In this piece, I'll be using Detroit athletes as comparisons so everyone can get to know the USMNT better for today's match. Let's start off with the main man himself.
#10 Christian Pulisic, Midfielder – Comparison Player: Cade Cunningham
#10 on the USMNT is the straw that will stir the drink of the team's World Cup chances. The United States has never had a star quite like Christian Pulisic; a 24-year-old midfielder who has played at the top flights of European football for Borussia Dortmund & Chelsea FC. Pulisic's skill is through the roof, using field awareness, offensive creativity, and masterful finishing in a way that has led him to hold the coveted #10 number for the boys in blue.
His comparative player from Detroit sports is the vaunted talent of Cade Cunningham for the Detroit Pistons. Much like Cade, Pulisic's star has no limits and the way he plays the game is something to behold. Both players show mastery of their craft and have been the bright spark in an otherwise damp environment. Pulisic plays in the attacking end of the pitch primarily, but he has been known to help on counterattacks defensively when needed. Cade is a true two-way player with an unselfish streak and an eye for all things basketball, #10 for the USMNT is no different.
#4 Tyler Adams, Midfielder- Comparison Player: Malcolm Rodriguez
The comparison between Tyler Adams & Malcolm Rodriguez is as much due to their playing style as it is for the position they play. Adams is a true midfielder in a way Pulisic is not, dropping into the middle both offensively & defensively, anchoring the USMNT on both sides of the pitch. The way Adams plays is very close to how a middle linebacker has to play on defense in football.
Add to this that both players have lower ceilings but really high motor and effort and you have two of the most likable guys on their respective teams. Adams will give you his all, he'll defend til he runs out of breath and he will set up attacking players for success, exactly in the way you'd want a true center midfielder to play.
Adams also was recently announced as the captain for the USMNT, displaying yet another parallel to the Rodriguez comp. It would not surprise me one bit if Detroit sports fans latch onto Adams in the same way they have for Rodrigo. If you want someone who is the antithesis of the stereotyped soccer player, #4 is it.
#7 Giovanni Reyna, Attacking Midfielder/Forward- Comparison Player: Riley Greene
Gio Reyna is a young pup, twenty years old as of November 13th in fact. He has shown flashes of true offensive brilliance during his very short time with the national team. Reyna plays top-flight soccer at Borussia Dortmund, like Pulisic before him, but Reyna's skill entirely lies in the attacking side of the ball. The video below is just a taste of what Reyna can bring at such a young age.
The flashes that Reyna has shown mirror the buzz that came when Detroit Tigers rookie star Riley Greene came to the big leagues. There is the potential for greatness offensively for Greene, with him playing a marquee position that will absolutely need production for the Tigers' offense to improve over its abysmal showing in 2022. Reyna serves much of that same role, working as a young sparkplug to empower offenses that need to show growth to improve their standing in the new year.
#8 Weston McKennie, Midfielder- Comparison Player: Hunter Dickinson
Some of our readers will love this comparison, others will hate it with a burning passion. The similarity holds when we look at both players further. Weston McKennie is unique from a soccer perspective with his bulky build and bruising physical play. McKennie has been able to mold a spot for himself in international play and on the USMNT by combining a startling physicality with some true offensive brilliance.
Hunter Dickinson, in his time at Michigan, has done much of the same; tailoring a spot at the heights of his sport by taking advantage of a lack of physicality amongst his peers. it is rare that Dickinson gets bodied by an opposing big, much as McKennie rarely losses possession of the ball when he is in control. McKennie will scrap and tear through the opposition to get balls into the attacking third, muscling his way through and setting up Pulisic & Reyna to capitalize. There's an intensity to both players and if you like Dickinson, you'll love McKennie.
#21 Timothy Weah & #24 Josh Sargent, Forwards- Comparison Players: Lucas Raymond & Filip Zadina
Arguably the most important duo on the USMNT, Tim Weah & Josh Sargent are the unknowns of the team. We already know what to expect from McKennie, Pulisic, Reyna, & Adams, but Sargent & Weah are question marks. The missing piece for the USMNT is a true quality Forward, someone who plays at the position full time and can rack up goals en masse to help the United States punch above their weight with the likes of Belgium & England. There are definite signs that these two could be the answer to those prayers, much like Lucas Raymond & Filip Zadina already have for the Detroit Red Wings.
Raymond & Zadina have shown a great deal of offensive skill in their wing positions, which is offensively similar to how Weah & Sargent play on the soccer pitch. The two Red Wings have already proven themselves more than their USMNT counterparts, but the hope is that Weah & Sargent can replicate the same success that the young hockey stars have. If there is even a remote chance that #24 & #21 can copy the Red Wings' rising stars, then there is a bright, bright future for the United States soccer team in Qatar.