That’s a question on the minds of a lot of fans of the United States men’s national team heading into their Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinal match against Curacao at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday (8 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN). Unsurprisingly, it was a question head coach Gregg Berhalter didn’t want to answer at his press conference at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday afternoon.
His response about whether he would say who he’d be starting was a simple “no.”
Zardes -- the Columbus Crew SC striker -- leads the team with three goals while Altidore -- Toronto FC's No. 9 -- scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Panama with an overhead kick in his first start for the national team in 20 months.
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Berhalter was also asked if Altidore would be his No. 1 choice if he had been healthy and fully fit coming into the Gold Cup campaign.
“I think that’s an impossible question to answer,” Berhalter said. “There’s always competition for spots, you want guys to be performing well. I know Jozy is an outstanding player, I know he can really help this team and I know he has a lot to give. I don’t think any player is guaranteed to start, it has to depend on their form, it has to depend on their fitness and how they fit into the game plan and everything like that.”
Through their first three games, the United States have had 11 players show up on the score sheet by way of a goal or an assist.
“When you think about some of the (goals) and some of the guys making assists it’s a diverse group of players so we’re happy with the fact that we’re spreading the ball around and using different players to attack,” Berhalter said.
Berhalter, who was named the head coach in December, has had the benefit of spending an extended period of time with his players for the run of the competition.
“When we talk about interchanging positions, when we talk about fluid movements, when we talk about combinations, I think the team is definitely making progress,” Berhalter said. “We have created a number of chances in all of our games so far and it’s something we want to keep building. We know that our offensive game is about 11 players, the 10 field players, including the goalkeeper, are responsible for our offensive game. We rely on ball circulation, combinations, movements behind the line, movements in the penalty box to create opportunities.”
Midfielder Christian Pulisic has a goal and two assists playing mostly as a central attacking midfielder, while he’s played primarily as a winger in his club career.
“The team likes to put me in a position where I can affect the game, I can make the runs that I do and try to score goals, get assists and help the team in that way,” Pulisic said. “I’m very comfortable. Obviously, I have flexibility to move wide and you even saw me last game come in as more of a winger so it’s something I’m comfortable in both positions.”