U.S. Men's National Team

Who should the USA start vs. Trinidad & Tobago?

Jose Francisco Torres 1 (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                                  Photo by ISIphotos.com

You can say it. The U.S. national team's performance on Saturday in a 2-2 tie vs. El Salvador was disappointing, at times terrible, and hardly confidence-inducing. The great two-goal comeback was inspiring, and it showed great heart, but it's safe to say that any more performances like the one on Saturday and the Hexagonal will suddenly become more difficult for the United States than most people could have imagined.

The best part about Saturday is that it's just four days before the next qualifier, on Wednesday vs. Trinidad & Tobago in Nashville. That's a quick turnaround time which should hopefully help the U.S. team try and forget Saturday's terrible display and look toward playing better at home.

The biggest question now is just what will Bob Bradley do to his lineup in the wake of Saturday's draw. Tim Howard and Oguchi Onyewu are expected back in the lineup, which should provide a big boost, but Bradley has other decisions he must make.

So what lineup could we see on Wednesday night? Here is one possibility (along with a lineup I would love to see at this point):

Projected USA lineup






This lineup makes plenty of sense because A) Sacha Kljestan just hasn't looked good in recent games and was terrible vs. El Salvador, and B) Jose Francisco Torres was very impressive in his second-half performance on Saturday.

Jonathan Spector should get a chance at left back because the way heath Pearce is looking these days T&T's Carlos Edwards could have a field day against him.

So what's the lineup I would like to see on Wednesday? It is a bit of a departure from what the U.S. team normally does, and I acknowledge that it has little to no chance of happening, but here goes:






With Dempsey seeing time on the left flank for Fulham, using him there for the US team wouldn't be a stretch at all and it would allow Donovan to attack from the right wing, where he could go at defenders as well as provide some service.

The other option is to use Donovan on the left. Yes, I am aware that Landon Donovan isn't left footed and not really someone who has been used on the left flank, but considering the non-existent service the U.S. team has been getting on that flank anyway, it could serve the U.S. team well to let Donovan attack from that flank ala Thierry Henry, allowing him to take people on and cut inside where he can wreak havoc.

Beasley at left back has been something discussed on the past on SBI and it is worth a look right now because A) Beasley's attacking qualities are suffering miserably right now and B) Heath Pearce is just plain awful. Beasley has the speed to deal with Carlos Edwards and the different position look might just help Beasley get past Saturday's poor showing.

Jozy Altidore has made things happen when he gets into the game, and while I will acknowledge that he didn't exactly play great the last time he got the start (at Trinidad & Tobago coincidentally enough), he did set up the U.S. team's loan goal in that game. With Ching holding the ball up and Altidore running off him, the U.S. team just might find its best forward combination.

What lineup would you like to see Bob Bradley use vs. Trinidad & Tobago? What do you think of the above lineups?

Share your thoughts below.

  • CG

    From m@: “USMNT supporters who still don’t understand what Ching brings to this particular team either are letting their personal bias against Ching get in the way or have a puerile understanding of attacking tactics.”

    Couldn’t say it any better than that.

    For those of you posting line-ups with our “best 11” and have Adu in there… I don’t see it. Adu is not one of our best 11 players right now, and probably shouldn’t even be on the bench.

    I have serious concerns about Beasley as a left back. At this point, I have serious concerns about Beasley as a left anything. His confidence is shot, he doesn’t take guys on anymore when he should, and speed will only get you so far as a defender. I like what Bradley does in the middle, but also have serious concerns about him as a 90-min defensive mid. Until he learns what to do (or more appropriately, what not to do) in each third, we will be vulnerable to several opposing free kicks from 25 yards each game.

    Spector has played plenty as a marking back for the Hammers. I’d be pretty pleased to see Ives lineup with Spector on and Beas off. I think Andrew was the first to post it here. Bradley will learn. He’ll just have to buy a few post-game drinks for Howard in the meantime. Edu is also a long term possibility there if he continues to develop. If Dolo is healthy, I choose him over Hejduk every time.


  • ThaDeuce

    :Yes I agree, I do not think Bornstein will be our answer to the left back quagmire. However, I would venture a guess that he will perform better than Pearce.

    I think I would prefer to see Bocanegra moved out wide and Spector as CB or just putting Spector at left back. I even think I would prefer having Beasley at left back all of the time, that way he could get really good at it.


  • fenel

    playing beasley at left back would be a big mistake for the nats. He’s too casual of a defender. He let the salvadoran player crossed an unchallenged ball which led to the second goal. When he messes up up front, it’s still 0-0, but when he messes in the back, the whole team suffers.


  • Dave

    I do not understand the clamour for Beasley to play left back. As far as I am aware, he has no club experience in this position, and is a poor to modest tackler. While it may be attractive to think about the offensive opportunities it provides, rule one for a defender is you have to be able to defend; once that is done you can think about going forward.

    Remember Lewis against the Czech’s in the World Cup?

    Beasely’s brief spell at the end of the game playing full back was not a ringing endorsement of his suitability to play left back.

    Let’s get a solid defender in that spot and forget experimenting with non defenders in a critical defesive positions.


  • alex

    I second the idea several other commenters have presented that Donovan needs 2 bigger forwards in front of him to operate. With T&T’s center backs preoccupied with Jozy and Ching, Donovan will have a lot more room to operate.

    That should work in theory, but the reality is that there will likely be a defensive midfielder locking Donovan up all game. However, this isn’t bad either. People don’t seem to recognize the off-the-ball work Donovan does sometimes, even if it’s just pulling a defender or 2 away from the play. He opens up alot of space for others to come forward and shoot.*

    *See MB’s second goal against Mexico.


  • Jon M. Roberts

    Bob Bradley needs to talk to his players before the initial quick and tell them we are already down 2-0, an start torres and altidore, if that does not work out, then he can always go back to his normal eleven, lacking dolo.
    I just hope that nashville fans can bring it on and pull their weight as the twelfth man, why nashville????? Football in NASCARland??? I hope we can pick some better spots next time around


  • EA

    “I cannot believe that anyone who follows the US would EVER again want to see a left midfielder playing at left back.”

    But Russ,

    It’s awesome when I do it on FIFA ’09! In fact, if we 9 forwards on the field, we’ll be awesome.

    This is the internet. Things like the real world and common sense have no place here.

    Here in the real world, Mastroeni will start for Kljestan, Gooch and Howard will return. Everything else will be status quo. That gives us the most reliable chance to get points, which, I assure all of the dreamers that want the hotshot from the (wherever) league to play… that is ALL we are trying to accomplish.

    If we get a 2 or 3 goal lead early, you may see Altidore, Adu and Torres.


  • ThaDeuce

    “Bob Bradley needs to talk to his players before the initial quick and tell them we are already down 2-0, an start torres and altidore,”

    HAHA awesomeness.

    I resent your Nashville comment however, it is a very cool and cultured city. Ever heard of Vanderbilt? Lots of Rock-n-Roll flows through Nashville as well.


  • T.R.

    “[Bornstein] is a natural left back.”

    Can’t agree. He was a forward in college. Bradley drafted him and put moved him to LB, but he is reportedly being pushed up to LM for Chivas. His position is still in flux.

    I’m hoping Bornstein is only coming in to back up Spector.


  • Ron Mexico

    Ching and Califf are just not good enough and should not ever feature in a meaningful match. Everyone seems to realize it re Califf, for some reason Ching continues to have pockets of supporters for whatever reason (like his MLS play or whatever). He just isn’t good enough to feature internationally and doesn’t bring enough to the table. Jozy is the future but is also better right now.

    Pearce and Kljestan were awful on Saturday and probably deserve a seat this time around. I wouldn’t mind using Freddy off the bench, not sure about him starting but I think he could add something as a sub.


  • Flipstar508





  • vic

    This may be getting too far ahead, but do you think the presence of Francisco Torres and Michael Orozco could give some calmness to the team when they play Mexico at Azteca? The team seemed jittery when playing El Salvador, as though the crowd was unnerving them. Would this depend on how many of the Mexican players are actually from the FMF as opposed to Euro players. Maybe throw in Bornstein too.


  • mike

    We have a whole team of central midfielders and no left back. Maybe we should get away from the 4-4-2.



    or this maybe



  • Barry U

    Hey I know Frankie was great at times on Saturday but I would like to see Spector at RB. He plays that for his club today and in the future from reports I’ve seen. Let DMB go at LB. Jozy and Ching up top and Torres for Sacha.


  • madmax

    ————————— Jozy ————————
    ————————– Donovan ———————–
    —– Torres ——— Bradley ——- Dempsey—
    ——————– Clark———Pablo———————-
    ———-Boca——— Gooch————Spector—-

    First subs, Frankie for Clark if you go to 4 in back. Adu for Dempsey behind Jozy if Clint is out of gas.


  • jpc


    1) Torres should be the permanent Defensive Midfielder on the team. I have yet to see him turn the ball over in the defensive third or midfield. Plus, he’s a better defender than Bradley. While Bradley covers more ground, Torres is a smarter defender, and a better tackler (Bradley has a lot many brash tackles that are completely uncalled for). Offensively he really reminds me of Claudio Reyna, always making the right decisions, and tougher than you think

    2) I still want to see Beasley on the right and Dempsey on the left. It adds another level to their game, and makes them 3 dimensional players by adding the possibility of them cutting into the middle of the field, rather than guys that run up and down the field

    3) I like Brian Ching, but come on, put the kid in to begin with for christ sake

    4) Spector should be at right back, period… Anyone who thinks he would’ve gotten abused like Hejduk did on that goal is kidding themselves. Plus, he’s a better attacking player due to his skill level, despite Hejduk’s somewhat over hyped attacking mentality and athleticism

    5) I’m not a huge Bornstein or Pearce fan, but until Wynne or cherundolo are at right back, and Spector can slide to the left, I like bornstein b/c he’s much more athletic and skilled, and he looks to overlap into the attack. Although Pearce has a cannon shot

    6) GET FREDDY IN THERE. The kid is dangerous everytime he plays. It’s not his fault he plays for a bunch of retards (much like Altidore)


  • Adam

    Jozy Landy

    Torres Bradley Dempsey


    Spector Los Gooch Hejduk


    Does anyone know when Cherundolo will be healthy again? Frankie has played well, but I think he’s a card machine and a liability as anything more than a sub in SA.


  • Joe Williams

    “USMNT supporters who still don’t understand what Ching brings to this particular team either are letting their personal bias against Ching get in the way or have a puerile understanding of attacking tactics.

    Shredding a defense with jaw-dropping dribbling definitely takes talent, but applying the vision and the movement (on-ball and particularly off-ball) necessary for holding play and the subsequent passing combos is, in many ways, more complex due to the multi-player coordination required. Because this is not an individual feat, some may trivialize the contributions of each involved player; and the dynamic complexity may be too esoteric for some to appreciate.

    We will one day have a forward who shreds his way through defenses in jaw-dropping fashion, accumulating obscene amounts of individual accolades and personal recognition along the way. Until then, take time to appreciate the subtler side of soccer found in Ching-Hejduk-Altidore-goal.”
    I hate to be completely rude here, but the quoted post borders on laughable. Insinuating that Ching should play alongside Altidore and then criticizing others’ knowledge of attacking tactics is bad enough, but the second paragraph takes it to another level. The problem with Ching isn’t his inability to create or run at defenses, it’s that he isn’t close to effective enough as a target/holding type of player. In other words, if he was a better target man then it would be fine. The fact that he isn’t highly skilled or creative is immaterial.

    The vast majority of us realize that there’s more than one way to skin a cat and readily appreciate a buildup through a string of clever passes. Ching had a couple of moments of success in his role against El Salvador, one of them leading to a goal, but it wasn’t nearly enough against an opponent of that caliber. We don’t begrudge Ching for his lack of skill or creativity, the problem is that he isn’t good enough in the role he’s asked to play. Your inability to realize the underlying reasons for the anti-Ching sentiment make me question your level of fan sophistication despite your best efforts at pedantry.


  • Kevin

    Everyone agrees that we are the beasts of Concacaf, so let’s impose our will and athleticism on teams. I know it’s unusual, but fun to watch.








  • Angel

    Kevin – I like your Format but Bob Bradley never going to play a 3-5-2 he is too discipline and too conservative. he doesn’t like to risk but I can tell you this, If the USA Qualify as 2nd or 3rd seed we need request the firing of Sunil and Bob Bradley and get them fired.


  • CG


    I can appreciate that you disagree with m@ (and me since I quoted him) but why exactly is Ching not effective enough as a target striker? According to you he only has a few moments of success in that role. Yesterday one of those moments led to half of our offensive output. Do I think Ching is a savior? No, but we had what you and others are clamoring for in the interim between McBride’s retirement and Ching’s ascension to permanent starter – multiple small forwards. That usually resulted in a 4-5-1 with a lone, deserted (and often ineffective) striker. The US isn’t alone on this one either. Just ask Emile Heskey about the reasons for his return to the national team.

    Altidore may be the future in this department, but right now I think Ching is better. I still like Jozy/Donovan/Dempsey/etc. running at defenders, not backing them down.


  • Brett

    Bornstein is a better LB option than Beasley, so I’m glad he is called in.

    Pearce has to be done in my estimation. His form has been terrible lately and he isn’t even getting minutes for a 2nd division club. Bornstein at least offers an attacking option as well as not being atrocious defensively.

    I guess I’d go with


    I’m giving Bradley a night to rest and perhaps a sub appearance. Beasley needs to sit. He barely plays at Rangers and did not look good against EL Sal. Heydude gets the love over Spector, but I think we all agree we need Dolo back in the mix.


  • andrew in tampa

    For the Ching apologists: Can you see Ching being an offensive threat against WC caliber talent? No. A few times in the first half he had a chance to go at defenders and he turned around and went in the other direction. Also a few times Donovan had a counterattack and Ching didn’t have the pace to catchup to join in the attack. Playing Ching at forward is like playing with four defenders and six mid-fielders. he is not a viable offensive threat on the international level. I would love for him to prove me wrong.


  • Aaron

    It’s time to pull Beasley off the field. He has been frankly lackadaisical for years. Perhaps, the same could be said for Donovan at the national level. The US had NO drive against El Salvador. It appeared as if the ball and players moved in slow motion, and our lack of basic SKILLS was atrocious. Players sitting on the bench in foreign countries do NOT deserve the start over hungry starters in the MLS. Period. While Kljestan might need a few years to rise to the level of international play, there is no excuse for continually playing Beasley, an overrated player who had ONE successful run at the national level when he was an ambitious lad. Pull Beasley, start Altidore, perhaps start Pablo with Bradley to gain some midfield composure, throw Boca at left back, try Spector in the middle, and for the love of Science, pull players that aren’t doing jack-all on the pitch!!!!!!


  • Patrick

    JOZY MUST PLAY! He might not play for his club at all this season. Just to give him a boost, play him for 70 against T+T.


  • papa bear

    sadly, Ive’s first projected lineup is probably what we’ll see. Although I don’t even know if he’d pull Kljestan out. He had all the reason in the world to not start him on Saturday and still did. I dunno. I hope Torres is put in place of him though.

    Ching has got to go. I’m sick of us playing with a glorified center back as a striker. I admire his willingness to grind it out defensively but the difference between Altidore and Ching were very apparent within 5 minutes of Jozy’s introduction into the match. Jozy is dangerous and has a great nose for goal and finding open spaces. Ching is great at allowing himself to get jammed up in a quagmire of people in the box and doing nothing. If Bradley insists on starting a lone striker formation, that striker should be Altidore.


  • Jags98

    If you all are talking about sitting Pearce & Califf, you have to include DMB. I dont care how good you think he is, for his showing the other night he has to sit. He is expected to be a leader and show more than the other two. He did not and it must not be rewarded. He needs time to sit and get his heart back into it. This will be good for us all…


  • Jags98

    Same for Kljestan, you scream to pull him out then DMB has to go first. He an elder and had a worst game.


  • j stevenson

    it’s not just last Saturday, it’s been the past 4 years. How Beez is still up at the national level absolutely blows my mind. Then again we did have klesnatch starting, so I guess anything is possible with BB. We know we’re stuck with Beez for years still. I guess it may be better to keep him at mid, and just write off the left side for ever creating anything. I wouldn’t want him giving up meaningless balls in the back third rather than the front 3rd where he does now.


  • Matt

    I was just wondering where all of you coach and how many matches you’ve won since you all obviously know so much more about soccer than Bob Bradley does.


  • steve



    Adu Torres Bradley Donovan

    Bornstein Gooch Boca Spector


    Frankie is poor despite his 15 minutes of heroics…he may be a good guy, but he needs to be on the bench..such a poor decision as far as personel that he brought into camp..are you telling me Stuart Holden or Freddy couldn’t do what Beas has done?? At least Freddy can trap a ball…Danny Califf over Demerit???? where is Parkhurst? Marshall? Anways, the team I put up in the best collection of soccer players available in camp and not one is playing an unfamiliar position..

    NO BEAS AT LEFT BACK!!!!!!! I am tired of the Ashley Cole references!!


  • Andrew

    Earth To BB- Ching is NOT gonna win us WC2010. At some point in time, you have to give Altidore and Adu and Torres a change to start and play!

    Prediction: we go three and out in Confederations Cup, BB finds a new job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Dennis

    Spector has not looked that good for West Ham after returning from injury. He looked tentative, his tactical decisions were poor and he suffered from lapses in concentration. I do not see Bradley starting him, but he will see time late in the game if it is not too tight.
    I doubt Adu or Altidore will start, but Altidore might and Adu could some time late.
    I am sure Bradley will spend some time with Pearce, Klejstein and Beasley in an attempt to learn why each under-performed. I suspect that Bornstein will replace one of them and Torres another.

    I would like
    Donavon – Altidore – Dempsey
    Bornstein – Bradley – Torres – Adu
    Bocanegra – Onweyu – Hejduk
    but suspect that is a bit on the young side. Perhaps slip Mastroeni in for Adu and reshuffle by pushing Torres out right.


  • Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper"

    My Line Up:








    I wouldn’t mind DMB getting the start in front of Jozy. BUT if he does not perform he gets yanked at the half. The same goes for Deuce. I would move Jozy right and sub Adu on the left allowing he and Landy to switch roles in the midfield and the wing.


  • Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper"

    One more thing!

    STOP THE CHING HATE! Sheeeeesh!

    I am not a “huge fan” BUT the guy does what he does well. He rarely turns over the ball when he gets service. He gets fouled in the positive third of the field and even a blind dog can sniff a bone.

    CHING is the American HESKEY!

    People have been criticizing Capello for including him in the England team. They are wrong and he has been Wayne Rooney’s best friend. His size draws attention from the CB’s and even causes the Fullbacks to sweat abit. The “boy” Rooney benefits when Heskey plays. When the ball goes wide, Rooney gets lost in the shuffle because of the “threat” of Heskey. The same strategy will work for the US when we get the ball wide and PROVIDE SERVICE!

    Ladon could have huge games if we could get consistent attack and service from the wings/flanks.

    Oh yeah! TnT is not particularly stout at fullback.

    Keep Ching in!

    For Now . . .


  • Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper"

    One more thing . . .

    Torres/Mastro could be a great pairing in the middle and I would say the same for Torres/Edu


  • mike

    Neither Danny Califf nor Jay Demerit should ever see time with the USMNT, they are both slow, awkward, and terrible. Spector at left back seems obvious unless he sticks Bornstein there, a good decision as well. Would like to see Donovan in the central midfield where can impact the game by running with the ball. Altidore should obviouly start, and what about Adu for Beasley? Nobodys mentioned that but that would give us flank play on the left, Adu’s service with Altidore’s head? It’s worked before.


  • Dennis

    Against T&T, scoring should not be the problem. That means the first concern is defense. Bornstein was called in because Bradley obviously saw what we all saw in El Salvador. He will replace either Pearce or Beasley. I suspect a flat back four with
    Borstein, Bocanegra, Gooch, Hejduk.

    Spector has not been that strong at West Ham. Unless he did exceptionally in the training sessions (probably did not since he saw no time on Saturday) he will not start.

    There are lots of options in midfield, I would prefer a mix of grit, experience and skill. that means
    Donavon, Bradley, Mastroeni, Torres (Edu and Adu will be subs)

    Up front, there needs to be some strength
    Altidore or Ching and some skill Altidore or Adu If speed is important, Johnson could be used, but he has failed to impress lately.

    So for who will actually start:
    ———-Dempsey — Ching —
    ——Donavon–Bradley — Torres

    Subs used likely Altidore, Edu, Spector, Adu or Johnson

    It would be fun though to see a back 3 and an all out attack,
    –Altidore– Johnson–Adu
    Bornstein – Gooch -Hejduk

    But it will not happen in a game that matters. Maybe latter in qualifying when the USA is already in.


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