The U.S. men's national team has called in its best players for the first time since last summer's World Cup, and Bob Bradley will have his first chance to see what this summer's Gold Cup starting lineup might look like.
Stuart Holden's loss to injury was a tough blow, but U.S. head coach Bob Bradley will still have several options for his central midfield, whether he goes with a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The real question marks are in the back, where Bradley has Jay DeMerit back in the fold, as well as fellow World Cup veterans Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu. Young defender Tim Ream is in the mix as well and could have an edge on DeMerit, having played more games in recent months, including two starts with the national team.
Right back is also a question mark, with Steve Cherundolo missing the match due to an injury. Eric Lichaj has been called in to replace Cherundolo. Jonathan Spector was already in camp, but Lichaj is playing regularly right back at Leeds and could have the edge.
So what will the starting lineup look like for the USA? Here's a projected lineup:
PROJECTED USMNT LINEUP vs. ARGENTINA
Ream gets the nod in this projection, with his sharp passing serving as a valuable strength in the back. DeMerit could get the nod as well.
The central midfield makes the most sense, though we could expect to see a more attack-minded substitution in the second half. There's also the possibility that Bob Bradley will leave Maurice Edu on the bench and start him vs. Paraguay. If that's the case, then we could see someone like Sacha Kljestan or Benny Feilhaber get a start. That seems like the less likely scenario.
Jonathan Bornstein's inclusion raises some interesting questions. With him not playing much at Tigres, will that keep him from getting the start, or will Bradley overlook that and give him the nod at left back, which would allow for the Onyewu-Bocanegra centerback tandem to be reunited?
The attacking trio of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore looks like a safe bet to start, though you wonder if Bob Bradley would start an Edson Buddle alongside Altidore in a 4-4-2. Young forward Juan Agudelo is an exciting option, and an Altidore-Agudelo combination could be an exciting one to watch. That seems more likely to wait for the second half for that Double A pairing.
What do you think of the above lineup? What starting lineup would you like to see face Argentina?
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