How the USMNT should line up against Jamaica in their Gold Cup opener: Jesus Ferreira up top, Alejandro Zendejas out wide

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GOAL breaks down how B.J. Callaghan should look to break down the Reggae Boyz with his under-strength roster

With the United States men's national team's Nations League squad, you had a general idea of what a starting XI would look like. There were several players in that group that are locked in starters. Christian Pulisic is the left winger, Antonee Robinson is the left-back, and so on and so forth.

This Gold Cup squad, though, is a bit more interesting. Interim coach B.J. Callaghan has a wild mix of veterans, hopefuls and rising stars in his squad as the USMNT looks to defend the crown they won in 2021.

Their first game may very well be their toughest, as the U.S. opens their title defense with a match against Jamaica. The Reggae Boyz feature plenty of Premier League talent, headlined by West Ham striker Michail Antonio, making them a legitimate candidate to win the whole thing.

So how does Callaghan set the USMNT up for what will be a fairly grueling tournament run? Does he throw young stars right into the fire, knowing that the second two games are very winnable, or does he lean on veterans to ensure the U.S. starts the tournament on the right foot?

GOAL breaks down a potential USMNT lineup that Callaghan could go with against the Reggae Boyz:

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  1. GK: Matt Turner

    GK: Matt Turner

    There will be plenty who will want to see Gaga Slonina at some point this tournament, but this definitely isn't the game for it. Given the challenge Jamaica will pose, and his need for minutes, Turner will almost certainly get the nod after two clean sheets in the Nations League last week.

  2. LB: DeJuan Jones

    LB: DeJuan Jones

    Something of a toss-up between Jones and John Tolkin, and both will probably get an opportunity at some point this tournament. Whoever does start will have a tough job facing off, most likely, against Leon Bailey. Callaghan really could go with either, but we'll give Jones the nod due to his extra experience.

  3. CB: Matt Miazga

    CB: Matt Miazga

    In this new cycle, Miazga is a player that is deserving of a chance to show his worth. After getting stuck in the Chelsea loan system, he's been spectacular with FC Cincinnati and has the potential to be a key contributor over the next few years. He felt overlooked last cycle, and he may have a point. Now's his chance to show it.

  4. CB: Aaron Long

    CB: Aaron Long

    This spot depends solely on Miles Robinson. He picked up a knock in the Nations League win over Mexico, and it remains to be seen if he'll be ready to go against Jamaica. If he isn't, it makes sense to turn to the veteran Long, although he hasn't been too impressive since joining LAFC. The other option is Jalen Neal, who, despite his rise with the Galaxy, is just 20 years old.

    Because of that, we'll lean Long, but if Robinson is healthy, he's a locked-in starter.

  5. RB: DeAndre Yedlin

    RB: DeAndre Yedlin

    We'll likely see Bryan Reynolds in at least one of the other group-stage games, but the USMNT will likely need Yedlin's pace and experience against Jamaica. Everton's Demarai Gray could very well start on this side and will be a massive challenge for whoever starts at right-back. Yedlin won't be overawed in any way and could very well be a candidate to be captain in this starting XI.

  6. CM: Aidan Morris
    Getty Images

    CM: Aidan Morris

    He's chosen to play for the U.S. despite interest from Canada, so it's safe to assume we'll see Morris play at this tournament. The 21-year-old midfielder already has several years of experience under his belt, although one of those years was taken away due to injury. He's been spectacular this year as he continues to grow as a midfielder, but this will be a good test for him in that No.6 position.

    James Sands is another option here, although his positional versatility makes him an ideal sub if the U.S. were to switch systems.

  7. CM: Cristian Roldan

    CM: Cristian Roldan

    With a bit of veteran leadership in the center of the field, you know exactly what you're going to get from Cristian Roldan. Callaghan could turn to Gianluca Busio here for a more creative spark, but it makes more sense to at least start Roldan as the U.S. look to establish control early on.

  8. CM: Djordje Mihaiilovic

    CM: Djordje Mihaiilovic

    The more attack-minded of this midfield trio, look for Mihailovic to get forward and cause some havoc. The former CF Montreal star joined AZ Alkmaar earlier this year and continues to evolve as an attacking midfielder, with this camp a chance for him to truly make a push to the USMNT first-Team before beginning his first full season in the Eredivisie.

  9. LW: Jordan Morris

    LW: Jordan Morris

    Plenty of folks will want to see young star Cade Cowell in this spot, but it should go to Morris, at least for now. The Seattle Sounders winger is a Gold Cup veteran, having scored the winner in the 2017 final against, coincidentally, Jamaica. Morris has been in great form for the Sounders this season and he should be a handful for the Reggae Boyz backline.

    Cowell, meanwhile, could come in as a sub, where his pace and dribbling ability could change the game against tired legs.

  10. ST: Jesus Ferreira
    Getty Images

    ST: Jesus Ferreira

    He's fallen down the pecking order since Folarin Balogun's arrival, but don't write off Ferreira just yet. The FC Dallas star already has 10 goals in MLS this season and is continuing to evolve as a full-time No.9. He should help unsettle Jamaica's defense, who will have a lot to deal with due to his movement and creativity.

    Brandon Vazquez, meanwhile, is a good Plan B that could add a bit of physicality later in the game.

  11. RW: Alejandro Zendejas

    RW: Alejandro Zendejas

    He wasn't used in the Nations League, but this is Zendejas' time to shine. The Club America winger has a real chance to compete for a big role this cycle. He's creative, skillful and on a different level technically than many others in the pool. He could very well be the USMNT's attacking star this tournament.