The US Men’s team is now only 3 months away from their first major tournament since failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2017. With a new coach in place and a tactical identity taking shape, Gregg Berhalter has called in many of the US players that we would consider the cream of the national team crop. Players like Christian Pulisic, John Brooks, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams. Along side those top tier players is Real Salt Lake’s own sophomore sensation, Corey Baird.
We are breaking down what you need to know for this week’s FIFA Friendly versus CONMEBOL foe Ecuador.
When: Thursday, March 21st at 6:00pm MT
Where: Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida
How to Watch: ESPN2, UniMás and UDN
Why this game matters:
Like mentioned previously this game is the final ramp up to the Gold Cup meaning this is the last chance for Berhalter to see players in person and in his system. He will then decide who will be a part of the 23 man squad that will vie for the Gold Cup and a possible berth into the Confederations Cup in 2021.
While the talent of this week’s squad is noticeably elevated from January’s camp, Corey Baird did enough to catch Gregg Berhalter’s eye and get called back in. Even if Corey doesn’t see the field, and we are certainly hoping that he does, he will get to rub shoulders with some of the youngest, most dynamic players of the US pool for 2 full weeks. That is invaluable experience that will only serve to increase Baird’s market value, as well as elevate his ability as an attacker for the Claret and Cobalt.
While I am a huge Corey Baird fan, I don’t see a lot of minutes for him in this game. I certainly hope that I am wrong but the roster is deep with experience and talent. If he does see the field my guess is that it is as a late game substitution to help provide a spark.
In terms of the outcome of the overall game, Ecuador has a slight edge all time against the US with a 5-5-4 win, draw, loss mark. But, taking into account that it is played in Orlando I am predicting a 2-1 win for the US to even the series at 5-5-5.