U.S. National Team Looks To Build Momentum vs Venezuela Before Gold Cup

The Stars and Stripes are coming off their first loss under the direction of Gregg Berhalter and will be looking to produce a better performance and result in the last tune-up before the Concacaf Gold Cup. Sunday’s friendly at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium comes against a Venezuela side also looking to rebound following a 3-1 loss to Mexico, as they look to build some momentum heading into Copa America. Kickoff is set for 2 PM ET and the match will be televised nationally on FOX.

Gregg Berhalter went with an experimental lineup in Wednesday’s friendly against Jamaica at Audi Field and fielded several fringe players ahead of the deadline for final tournament rosters. An uninspired performance in the 1-0 defeat has fans hoping to see more this time around. Berhalter has always been calm and methodical in his approach, and nothing has changed following the team’s first setback in 2019. He is looking forward to the chance for growth that one last friendly will provide ahead of competitive action.

"It will be a good opportunity to keep working through things, to create more offensive chances, to be stable in defense," Berhalter said following a disappointing night in the nation’s capital. "The defensive stability last game was pretty good. We didn't let up any real goal opportunities. But we want to create more, so we'll see if we can put ourselves in position to create more goal-scoring opportunities."

The manager’s biggest challenge remains effectively implementing his system while not having extensive time to work with key pieces on the team up to this point. Christian Pulisic participated in his first training session on Friday and will not see any action, while Tyler Adams will not meet up with the team until June 11. Michael Bradley is set to take part in his fifth Gold Cup but is not available for Sunday’s match out of precaution following a hamstring issue. Jozy Altidore will play some sort of role on Sunday, but exactly how many minutes he will log remains to be seen.

While Venezuela have started the year poorly with a 1-2-2 record, they offer plenty of talent throughout the pitch, including several familiar names Stateside. Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez and West Bromwich Albion striker Salomon Rondon are strong options in head coach Rafael Dudamel’s typical 4-5-1 formation. Torino’s Tomas Rincon slots in just behind in a more advanced role than he typically plays in Serie A. In midfield, D.C. United’s Junior Moreno has been a fixture alongside former NYC FC player Yangel Herrera, and Real Salt Lake’s Jefferson Savarino can slot in out wide. Ex-Philadelphia Union striker Fernando Aristeguita is another option off the bench.

This is the third game for Venezuela in the month of June, so head coach Rafael Dudamel will likely keep key players fresh ahead of their Copa America opener against Peru on Saturday. The U.S. have never lost in five previous meetings with La Vinotinto, and they’ll be looking for their fourth win in the series to add to a pair of draws. The teams’ most recent encounter was a 1-1 stalemate in Salt Lake City just before the 2017 Gold Cup. The Yanks will travel to Minnesota following the match, where they are set to kick off group play against Guyana on Tuesday, June 18.

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