How the USMNT should line up versus Mexico: Sergino Dest to start, but will Josh Wynder or Caleb Wiley join him?

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Sergino Dest USMNT Netherlands World Cup 2022
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Anthony Hudson has plenty of decisions to make as his inexperienced roster prepares to face the team's old rivals on Wednesday

Wednesday night's clash may not feel like a typical match between the U.S. men's national team and Mexico, but it could offer a glimpse into the future of what this rivalry could look like.

Both the U.S. and Mexico arrived in Arizona this week with young, inexperienced, largely domestic-based squads as they usher in new eras. Mexico's has officially begun under Diego Cocca, while the USMNT's is something of a work in progress, with interim boss Anthony Hudson still in charge.

Neither team will have its heavy-hitters, with European players out of the picture, but several young stars could continue their rise with this midweek friendly. That's especially true for the USMNT, who have several high-potential players in camp that should be Europe-bound sooner rather than later.

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With that said, GOAL takes a look at who the USMNT should start against El Tri:

  1. GK: Sean Johnson

    GK: Sean Johnson

    Drake Callendar and Roman Celantano may get time to shine, but we'll start with the steady hand of Johnson, the lone goalkeeper with caps in the squad.

    Johnson has been a valuable member of the USMNT for some time, having earned his World Cup place last year.

    We'll give him the start, but don't be surprised if one of the other two is tossed in for a debut at some point.

  2. LB: Caleb Wiley

    LB: Caleb Wiley

    The Atlanta United star is the USMNT's potential left-back of the future if his MLS form is anything to go by, so why not see what he can offer in the present?

    To be fair, Hudson likely won't make this move, considering the short run up to what would be Wiley's first cap, but why not see what he has? He's been fantastic in the attack with Atlanta so far this season and, although he's likely to remain with the Under-20s for a bit longer, he has certainly earned a look at this level.

    Julian Gressel, meanwhile, made his debut in January, showing off his incredible crossing ability during the first camp of the year. He likely won't really be a part of the full team picture but, if he is, you know what you get from him in terms of attacking production.

    Gressel is the more likely starter, but Wiley is the more fun one, so we'll give him a go.

  3. CB: Walker Zimmerman

    CB: Walker Zimmerman

    Right now, still possibly a starting centerback when the full team is together, although Miles Robinson and Tim Ream might have something to say about that.

    But, with those two not here, Zimmerman gets the nod.

    He'll provide leadership and experience for this one, which is still a big rivalry game. Zimmerman also makes sense as captain as well, which makes him an obvious starter.

  4. CB: Matt Miazga
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    CB: Matt Miazga

    The fun selection would be Joshua Wynder. The safe selection would be Aaron Long.

    But Matt Miazga is probably the most interesting selection.

    The FC Cincinnati star spoke last week about feeling "screwed" by the old regime, and this is a chance to prove himself correct. He's been good for Cincinnati after being stuck in Chelsea's loan cycle and, at 27, there's still plenty of good soccer ahead of him.

    Let's see what he looks like next to Zimmerman in this one and then go from there.

  5. RB: Sergino Dest

    RB: Sergino Dest

    Well, he didn't come all this way to sit on the bench, did he?

    The lone European call-up, Dest has traveled all the way from Milan, making him a guaranteed starter. He needs the gametime and, just as importantly, the confidence that could come from a good effort against Mexico.

    His future is uncertain, but we'll sort that out later. For now, let's just get Dest some minutes as he looks to rebuild himself.

  6. CM: Kellyn Acosta

    CM: Kellyn Acosta

    A key backup throughout the last cycle, Acosta should get the start here.

    He's still a valuable option in the midfield, especially with Tyler Adams out of action. He's played in big games, is good on set-pieces and is always capable when stepping in either as a starter or off the bench.

    With that in mind, the LAFC man seems like an obvious starter.

  7. CM: Aiden Morris
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    CM: Aiden Morris

    He's been balling for the Columbus Crew, so he's more than earned this start.

    Morris scored the first three MLS goals of his career in eight appearances this season, having never scored through his first 37, and he put in a decent shift against Serbia in his USMNT debut back in January.

    At 21, Morris could certainly be one for the future, so it makes sense to give him another game ahead of a potential role at one of the summer tournaments.

  8. CM: Alan Sonora

    CM: Alan Sonora

    This is the tricky one, especially with Cristian Roldan pulling out.

    Does Hudson go with a more defensive midfielder/centerback in James Sands? Could he turn to late callup Paxton Pomykal or the semi-experienced Jackson Yueill?

    All three are options, for sure, but so is Alan Sonora, who provided more of an attacking spark than all of the above. Now playing consistently for Juarez, Sonora has found a home at club level after previously playing in Argentina with Independiente.

    Can he make a real mark with the USMNT? To be determined, but it makes sense to bring him in as a more dynamic attacking player given the other options in midfield.

  9. LW: Cade Cowell

    LW: Cade Cowell

    Let's see what the kid has.

    Cowell was electric in January against Serbia, showing off the incredible pace that makes him such an interesting prospect. The San Jose Earthquakes star may not be in MLS for long, with the 19-year-old attacker earning interest from European sides.

    That makes this match another showcase for the teenager, who could take a big leap forward for club and country this season.

  10. ST: Brandon Vazquez
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    ST: Brandon Vazquez

    A big one for Vazquez, for more reasons than one.

    Facing off against El Tri, the Mexican-American will have no shortage of motivation to prove himself, especially considering the fact that Mexico have never really made a push to recruit him.

    That emotional aspect, though, is secondary. Vazquez is very much in the picture to start at striker for the U.S., despite a slow-ish start to the MLS season. A goal here would do wonders for him before the USMNT looks to sort out Gold Cup and Nations League squads.

  11. RW: Jordan Morris

    RW: Jordan Morris

    Probably the most in-form American out there right now.

    With eight goals in eight MLS game, Morris is flying with the Seattle Sounders and should get this start on merit. He still divides the USMNT fanbase, rightly or wrongly, but no one can argue that Morris has been absolutely dominant to start 2023.

    Given the experience of those next to him in the attack, Morris will have to play a big part in unsettling Mexico. But, if recent form is anything to go by, he seems like a safe bet to play a huge role in this one.