Tonight’s U.S. MNT Starting XI vs. El Salvador: 1-Bill Hamid; 2-Julian Araujo, 4-Mark McKenzie, 3-Aaron Long (capt.), 13-Sam Vines; 6-Jackson Yueill, 8-Brenden Aaronson, 17-Sebastian Lletget; 7-Paul Arriola, 9-Ayo Akinola, 11-Chris Mueller
Substitutes: 12-JT Marcinkowski, 21-CJ Dos Santos, 5-Walker Zimmerman, 10-Kellyn Acosta, 14-Djordje Mihailovic, 15-Marco Farfan, 16-Kyle Duncan, 18-Mauricio Pineda, 19-Sebastian Soto, 20-Cole Bassett
With the goal of inspiring action on social justice issues, during tonight’s National Anthems, all USMNT players will be wearing jackets with “Be the Change” adorned on the front. On the back, each player had the opportunity to include a personalized message representing something meaningful to them. More on tonight’s “Be The Change” statement.
USMNT Starting XI Cap Numbers (including this match): Paul Arriola (34), Aaron Long (18), Sebastian Lletget (17), Bill Hamid (8), Jackson Yueill (8), Brenden Aaronson (2), Mark McKenzie (2), Sam Vines (2), Ayo Akinola (1) Julian Araujo (1), Chris Mueller (1)
Today’s Starting XI has an average age of exactly 24 years.
The Starting XI averages nine caps.
Three starters will make their USMNT debuts: defender Julian Araujo and forwards Ayo Akinola and Chris Mueller. The three first-timers take the total number of debuts to 32 players in 22 matches under Gregg Berhalter – the most of any modern era USMNT coach at this point in their tenure.
With the start, Araujo becomes the 11th member of the USA squad at the 2020 FIFA U-20 World Cup to earn a cap with the USMNT.
Araujo was an injury replacement for Ayo Akinola on that team. Akinola played a big part in the USA’s qualifying effort for the tournament, scoring seven goals to help the side win the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship. He’s also the fourth member of the USA’s 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup squad to earn a cap for the USMNT, joining Sergiño Dest, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah.
Coming off a breakout season for Orlando City SC, Chris Mueller starts on the left wing in his first cap for the United States at any level.
Eight players in tonight’s starting XI featured in the USA’s 1-0 win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1, 2020 in Carson, Calif.: Brenden Aaronson, Sebastian Lletget and Jackson Yueill will once again work the midfield together, defenders Aaron Long and Sam Vines feature on the back line, while Paul Arriola will start on the right wing. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid and center back Mark McKenzie were also substitutes in that match.
Tonight’s match is also Arriola’s first start for club or country since suffering a torn right ACL in a preseason match with D.C. United on Feb. 15. Arriola had started in the USA’s 1-0 win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1, 2020, then returned to action in United’s MLS regular season finale on Nov. 8, playing 21 minutes as a substitute.
With the start, Sebastian Lletget will be the only player to appear in all four USMNT matches in 2020.
Aaron Long captains the USMNT for the fourth time tonight. The veteran defender last wore the armband in the 1-0 win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1. The USMNT is 3-0-0 with Long as captain.
Earning his eighth cap tonight, Bill Hamid starts his first match since a 2-1 defeat to Ireland on June 2, 2018 in Dublin.
Aaron Long and Mark McKenzie partner in central defender for the first time tonight. McKenzie is Long’s sixth different center back partner when the USMNT has lined up in a back four. Long’s other partnerships by games: Walker Zimmerman (7), Matt Miazga (3), Tim Ream (3), John Brooks (2), Cameron Carter-Vickers (1). The USMNT utilized a back three in Long’s second cap on Nov. 20, 2018 against Italy.
Six of 11 starters are eligible for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo: Brenden Aaronson, Ayo Akinola, Julian Araujo, Mark McKenzie, Sam Vines and Jackson Yueill.
An additional six players could earn their first cap tonight: Cole Bassett, CJ Dos Santos, Kyle Duncan, Marco Farfan, JT Marcinkowski, Mauricio Pineda,
The USMNT will dress 21 players tonight. Both teams are allowed six substitutions.
Striker Daryl Dike picked up a minor injury and will not dress tonight.
Though part of the training camp roster, because they represented other countries in official youth competition, forward Efrain Alvarez (Mexico) and midfielder Andrés Perea (Colombia) are currently ineligible to represent the United States.
Tonight’s match comes 19 years to the day that the USMNT last played in December when team lost 1-0 to Korea Republic in an international friendly in Seogwipo, South Korea on Dec. 9, 2001. The USMNT is 2-5-3 all-time in December matches.
The USMNT enters the match on a five-game unbeaten run (4-0-1), a stretch that dates back to the USA’s 4-1 defeat of Canada on Nov. 15, 2019, in Orlando. The current unbeaten streak is tied for the longest under Gregg Berhalter. The team last went five matches unbeaten from June 18 – July 3, 2019 during the Concacaf Gold Cup (5-0-0).
The USMNT is 17-1-5 all-time against El Salvador and 14-0-2 against Los Cuzcatlecos on U.S. soil. The teams last met in the Gold Cup quarterfinal on July 19, 2017. Defenders Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj scored for the U.S. in the 2-0 win.
El Salvador is managed Carlos de los Cobos, who was the head coach of the Chicago Fire from 2010-11. Current USMNT General Manager Brian McBride played his final professional season with the Fire under de los Cobos, while USMNT goalkeeping coach Aron Hyde was also part of the Fire technical staff during that time.
De los Cobos previously managed El Salvador from 2006-09, memorably leading the nation to the final round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The USMNT went 2-0-1 in matches against El Salvador in that time, including a 2-2 draw on March 28, 2009 in San Salvador and 2-1 win on Sept. 5, 2009 during the final round of World Cup qualifying.