Quick Bit: The United States begins its trek towards the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as the USMNT host Morocco in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

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The United States begins its trek towards the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as the USMNT host Morocco in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Morocco, a fellow World Cup 2022 participant, was drawn in Group F alongside Belgium, Canada, and Croatia. The Atlas Lions, led by PSG star Achraf Hakimi and departing Wolves captain Romain Saiss, were eliminated by Egypt in the quarterfinals of AFCON 2021 earlier this year before downing the Democratic Republic of Congo in the final stage of Africa World Cup qualifying.

American head coach Gregg Berhalter has dealt with a host of injuries since the United States confirmed a place in the 2022 World Cup this past March, and the U.S. must pick up the pieces and sort out who will be ready in November and who will be left out.

These two teams have not met in 15 years, with Morocco earning a 1-0 friendly win the last time they matched up back in 2006 on a 90th minute goal by Mohamed Madihi. The U.S. has never beaten Morocco in three all-time meetings.

MORE: USMNT injury rundown ahead of the 2022 World Cup

How to watch USA vs. Morocco

Date: Wednesday, June 1
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN2
Spanish-language TV: UniMas, TUDN
Streaming: fuboTV, WatchESPN

Wednesday’s match between the United States and Morocco from TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio will be broadcast in the United States on ESPN2 (English) and on UniMas and TUDN (Spanish).

All three channels are streamed on fuboTV. The ESPN broadcast can also be streamed on WatchESPN for satellite, cable and telco subscribers.

MORE: Watch USA vs. Morocco live on fuboTV (get access now)

USA vs. Morocco projected lineups

The United States is missing a number of key players as the summer begins. First and foremost, defender Miles Robinson is out for the foreseeable future with an Achilles tear that threatens to keep him sidelined through the World Cup and beyond.

Berhalter confirmed that defender Aaron Long will slot in alongside Walker Zimmerman at center back against Morocco, and he could be a legitimate contender to take Robinson’s place. It’s also likely that Cameron Carter-Vickers will see time in the near future, after the Tottenham loanee excelled this past season with Celtic in Scotland.

Additionally, Berhalter is without Weston McKennie as a starting option, although the USMNT head coach confirmed his Juventus midfielder will play approximately 20 minutes off the bench as he recovers from a bad ankle injury. Berhalter stated that he will experiment with Brenden Aaronson, using the new Leeds United signing in midfield in the hopes of finding a way to get as many of his best players on the field at the same time. In-form Djordje Mihailovic was forced to withdraw from the roster due to an ankle injury suffered with CF Montreal over the weekend.

Gio Reyna is absent from the roster after suffering yet another hamstring injury in April and continues to find himself sidelined with muscle issues. Also missing is Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen who withdrew from the camp for a personal matter and was replaced on the roster by Ethan Horvath. Center back Chris Richards continues to recover from a thigh injury suffered on club duty with Hoffenheim.

Who will be play as the center forward? Ricardo Pepi was left off the roster after a very poor start to his club career at Augsburg. Jesus Ferreira has been in stellar club form at FC Dallas and is likely to get the early nod, but Haji Wright should also get a look after finishing the season white-hot at Antalyaspor (9 goals in his last 10 matches).

USA projected starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): Turner (GK) — A. Robinson, Zimmerman, Long, Cannon — Musah, Adams, Aaronson — Pulisic, Ferreira, Weah.

Former Yugoslavian international Vahid Halilhodzic was plucked from French side Nantes in 2019 to take over the African side, having also previously guided PSG, Trabzonspor, Dinamo Zagreb, and the national teams for Algeria and Japan.

This being a World Cup tuneup for Morocco as well as the United States, it may be tough to get a read on how Halilhodzic wishes to experiment. The side is led by Wolves defender Romain Saiss, who is set to leave the Premier League club this summer.

Morocco are led by PSG star right wingback Achraf Hakimi who will line up opposite Christian Pulisic and hope to contain the Chelsea attacker. Stuck behind Hakimi on the roster is new Bayern Munich man Noussair Mazraoui, and fitting both into the starting lineup could be a headache for Halilhodzic.

Mercurial midfielder Adel Taarabt, currently with Portuguese side Benfica, is back in the fold for Morocco for the first time since early September 2021. Sofyan Amrabat of Fiorentina has 34 caps at 25 years old and has been a critical component of the Morocco midfield since late 2019. Former Southampton playmaker Sofiane Boufal was left off the roster due to a leg injury.

Striker Youssef En-Nesyri, who played a squad role for Sevilla in their push for a Champions League place, could see time up front, although Hatayspor frontman Ayoub El Kaabi started up front against Congo in their World Cup qualifier back in March. Gent forward Tarik Tissoudali wears the No. 9 for the side and could also be in contention after a strong finish to the club season, giving Halilhodzic choices up front.

Morocco projected starting lineup (5-3-2, left to right): Bono (GK) — Masina, El Yamiq, Saiss, Aguerd, Hakimi — Ounahi, Amallah, Amrabat — Tissoudali, El Kaabi.

MORE: All the trophies won by Christian Pulisic throughout his career

USA vs. Morocco best bets, pick & prediction

Odds via DraftKings (USA) & Sports Interaction (Canada)

As the home side at a historically friendly place, the United States is naturally the favorite, but not by much against a nation the Americans have failed to beat in the past.

A number of injuries will ensure the U.S. will not be at full strength against a fellow World Cup nation. It’s hard to predict how this one will play out with potential experimentation on both sides (Ex. Berhalter playing Aaronson in midfield).

Hakimi is a world-class talent at right back for Morocco, and if the African side finds a way to get both him and Mazraoui in the lineup at the same time, the U.S. wingers will have a hard time pushing forward and allowing space in behind.

So taking Morocco against the spread plus the under could be the play in this case. The African nation will have a good chance at picking up a result in a friendly match that could get bogged down in the second half with all the late-game substitutions breaking up play.

This is a game that also has the potential to see goals. Morocco is a hard-nosed team, but it conceded twice to an Egypt side displaying negative tactics in this winter’s Africa Cup of Nations, and also conceded goals against Malawi and Gabon.

Pick: Morocco +0.5 (-139 on Sports Interaction)
Prediction: USA 2-2 Morocco


Morocco Win
Both teams
to score Y / N

-123 / -125
Over / Under
2.5 goals

+105 / -145
USA -0.5
Morocco +0.5

Originally found on Sporting News Read More

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