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The task is simple, but far from easy. Avoid defeat against Nigeria and the U.S. men’s Olympic team advances to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Secure a victory against Nigeria and the Americans advance AND avoid facing Argentina in the quarters.
The Nigerians aren’t going to make that easy, not when they enter the match needing a victory to assure themselves a place in the quarters. Throw in the fact that U.S. standouts Freddy Adu and Michael Bradley are out due to yellow card suspensions and you have a match that will define just how strong the USA really is.
After using the same exact starting lineup in the second match tie vs. the Netherlands as he used in the opening win against Japan, U.S. head coach Peter Nowak won’t have that luxury this time. Now he has to make some tough decisions about his starting XI. Here is one guess at the starting lineup he will use when the Americans face Nigeria on Wednesday.
USA Projected Lineup vs. Nigeria:
With Nigeria missing two starting defenders due to yellow cards, look for the Americans to start McBride and Altidore with hopes of keeping pressure on a suspect Nigerian back-line. Robbie Rogers comes out of the lineup after another subpar performance against the Dutch. Stuart Holden slides to the left as he did at the start of the Netherlands match, with Danny Szetela sliding in on the right flank.
Benny Feilhaber should make his first start assuming he is fit enough to start (Feilhaber is coming off a knee injury that had sidelined him before the tournament). If he can’t go then Dax McCarty could get the call. I know some will suggest that Maurice Edu can slide into midfield but the U.S. team needs Edu in the back against Nigerian strikers Peter Odemwingie and Victor Obinna.
What lineup do you see the U.S. team using? What lineup would you like to see face Nigeria?
Share your thoughts below.