How the USMNT should line up vs Trinidad & Tobago in crucial Gold Cup clash: Brandon Vazquez over Jesus Ferreira up top

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Brandon Vazquez USMNT
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GOAL takes a look at how the U.S. could line up, including a difficult decision up top.

It's not often that you see a team on four points, fresh off a six-goal win, facing a must-win game. And yet here the U.S. men's national team is, knowing that their path to another Gold Cup trophy may just need another three points, and a few more goals, on Sunday evening.

The U.S. heads into the match with Trinidad and Tobago with a chance to win their group. Win without Jamaica making up three goals in their all-but-assured clash with St. Kitts and Nevis and the U.S. is good. A draw, though, leaves the U.S. second in the group, most likely. A loss? Well, that would be another dark, dark day at the hands of the Soca Warriors as the USMNT would almost certainly crash out.

Winning the group is vital. Whoever finishes top will be placed on the opposite side of the bracket from Mexico, a team that very much looks like the favorites. The second-place team, though, would get El Tri in the semis in what will almost certainly be a marquee match.

Because of that, B.J. Callaghan can't quite mess around in this game. He can rotate, sure, and he can play some younger players against a T&T team that should be pretty overmatched. But the U.S. can't get complacent, especially knowing that goal difference could easily come into play.

So, how does Callaghan handle it? How hard does he push for a top-of-the-group finish? And which players, ultimately, give the U.S. the best chance of achieving exactly that? GOAL takes a look...

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  1. GK: Matt Turner

    GK: Matt Turner

    Sean Johnson got the nod last game and, to be honest, it would be nice to see Gaga Slonina get a game. But this is a must-win game for the U.S., so Turner will likely be the guy.

    He was tested a bit against Jamaica but he shouldn't be here if all goes to plan. However, with a knockout spot on the line, its unlikely Callaghan will want to play musical goalkeepers.

  2. RB: Bryan Reynolds

    RB: Bryan Reynolds

    Let's give the kid another go.

    Reynolds was fantastic in the last game, scoring one goal while creating chance after chance from the right-hand side. Callaghan could go with a veteran like DeAndre Yedlin but he shouldn't, simply because Reynolds has earned the chance to be the go-to for the rest of the tournament.

  3. CB: Jalen Neal
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    CB: Jalen Neal

    It's going to be hard to take him out of the XI now.

    He's been the USMNT's breakout star of this tournament and he hasn't put a foot wrong yet. His passing has been fantastic, with Neal routinely breaking lines with ease against St. Kitts and Nevis. With this being a similar game, Neal's ability with the ball is a big, big asset for when the U.S. looks to kickstart the attack.

  4. CB: Miles Robinson

    CB: Miles Robinson

    Once again, it all depends on health.

    If Robinson is good to go, he is the best center-back in the team and it would be nice to see what Neal looks like next to him. If he isn't good to go, though, Matt Miazga will likely be the guy, even if he has been slightly shaky so far.

  5. LB: DeJuan Jones
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    LB: DeJuan Jones

    John Tolkin was solid against Jamaica and Jones was probably just a bit better against a worse St. Kitts and Nevis team. So who do you go with?

    It's a toss-up, really. We'll go with Jones. His passing was very, very good in his game, which could be important against a T&T also likely to bunker up.

  6. CM: James Sands
    Crédito: Getty

    CM: James Sands

    Sands has been totally solid through the two games, starting once in a double pivot and one as a lone No.6.

    For this one we'd assume he'll play as the latter, with two more creative midfielders around him to help unsettle a T&T team that won't have much of the ball. Still, someone like Sands is key, as he can do the dirty work in the moments that the Soca Warriors do get forward.

  7. CM: Gianluca Busio

    CM: Gianluca Busio

    Busio looked pretty good last game, helping tee up Djordje Mihailovic for the first USMNT goal. He only played 45 minutes, though, before being replaced by Alan Sonora.

    Sonora just hasn't quite caught the eye, at least not yet, while Busio looked good in his one half of play. Because of that, it makes sense to give the Venezia midfielder another start as he looks to assert himself creatively as one of the two more attacking midfielders.

  8. CM: Djordje Mihailovic

    CM: Djordje Mihailovic

    You can't bench him after that performance, right? Mihailovic was magnificent last time out, scoring two while assisting two more in the 6-0 demolition.

    It was a surprise to see him miss out on the Jamaica XI, but he probably can't be left out again. The AZ Alkmaar midfielder should be a guaranteed starter the rest of the way.

  9. RW: Alejandro Zendejas

    RW: Alejandro Zendejas

    We need to see more from Zendejas.

    It felt like he was going to be the star of this group but, so far, he's mostly faded into the background. He had one golden chance last game that he pushed wide in a moment that felt like a good metaphor for a player that just seems to be just that little bit off.

    Is he pushing a bit too hard to be a bit too much? Does he need just a little bit of confidence? The answer to both is: probably. This is a good chance to fix that, though.

  10. ST: Brandon Vazquez
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    ST: Brandon Vazquez

    This really is a tough one.

    On one hand, you have Ferreira, who is fresh off a hat-trick that saw him become the fastest player to score ten USMNT goals. On the other is Vazquez, who came off the bench to salvage a draw in the opener and hasn't gotten a start yet this tournament.

    It's legitimately a tough decision, mostly because the two are so, so different. For this game, we'll lean toward the more prototypical striker in Vazquez, but there's an argument to be made for a creative Ferreira, too.

    Callaghan probably can't go wrong either way, though.

  11. LW: Cade Cowell
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    LW: Cade Cowell

    Let's give the kid another shot.

    Cowell wasn't good enough against St. Kitts and Nevis, for sure. He didn't look quite like the player that we saw dominate the U-20 World Cup against, and no disrespect to the Sugar Boyz, better opponents.

    Still, there's no reason to write off a teenager still very much finding his way. Because of that, let's see what he can do in this one and what he learned from that last game.