The United States men's national team will look to build off Thursday's 4-1 victory over Jamaica when it takes on Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast on Sunday.
Sergino Dest, who scored a brace for Barcelona in his last appearance before the international break, continued his strong form with his first goal in a USMNT uniform to jump-start the win over the Reggae Boyz. Sebastian Lletget (two goals) and Brenden Aaronson (one) also scored in the match.
Let's check out all of the important details for the clash with Northern Ireland, which is coming off a 2-0 loss to Italy in FIFA World Cup qualifying Thursday.
Key Match Information
Where: Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland
When: Sunday, March 28 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Live
Odds: U.S. -110 (wager $110 to win $100), Northern Ireland +285 (wager $100 to win $285), Draw +270
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
From the depths of the disappointment that came with failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the USMNT is beginning to showcase the dawn of a promising era, fueled by a glut of young talent who have been playing important roles for their clubs throughout Europe.
Dest is one of the key pillars of the revitalization. The right back represents something the U.S. has sorely lacked in recent cycles: a defender who can aggressively push up the wing to generate scoring chances, either for himself, like he did against Jamaica, or for teammates.
He's joined by Chelsea's Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund's Giovanni Reyna, Valencia's Yunus Musah and Hoffenheim's Chris Richards among the notable names on the roster who figure to make up the side's rapidly emerging core during World Cup qualifiers.
It's not the complete group—RB Leipzig's Tyler Adams and Lille's Timothy Weah were removed from the preliminary roster because of COVID-19 travel protocols, while Juventus' Weston McKennie is dealing with a hip injury—but the amount of raw talent is USMNT is starting to display represents progress.
The reasons for optimism extend beyond the marquee names. Players like Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen) and Daryl Dike (Barnsley) have been scoring at decent rates for their clubs and bring some much-needed attacking depth to the squad. Both could feature in Sunday's match.
Others such as Aaronson and Sebastian Soto, who's with the U23 squad that will try to help the U.S. qualify for the Olympics later Sunday, are going to put pressure on head coach Gregg Berhalter to keep putting them on the roster if they continue to make an impact every time they are called up.
It's hard to project what type of lineups we will see in Sunday's fixture.
The U.S. will likely try to limit the playing time of its top players before sending them back to their clubs, especially if they had extended run-outs against Jamaica, while Northern Ireland has another World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria scheduled for Wednesday and is likely to rest its top players.
That said, it's still an opportunity for the United States to keep the good vibes rolling. Expectations are starting to rise, and the players within the group aren't shying away from the spotlight.
"I told Reggie [Cannon]. ... I said it before the game. I was also talking with Christian Pulisic and he said 'If you score, you have to do this [points to wrist]' because it's time. It's time. We're coming right now," Dest told reporters after the win over Jamaica.
It's a confidence matched by skill and could transform the USMNT from a gritty, counterattacking side into one that could compete with the world's best national teams while playing an attack-minded brand of football in time for the 2022 World Cup.
The Americans will attempt to continue putting that generational shift on display against Northern Ireland.