U.S. Men's National Team

What is the USMNT Best XI heading into October?

USMNTvsJamaica (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

After the past two World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, there are plenty of new ideas about just what is the best possible starting lineup for the U.S. Men's National Team when everybody is healthy. With two important qualifiers looming next month, it is time to think about what Jurgen Klinsmann's Best XI will be.

Whether you are talking the back four, the midfield or the forwards, each area of the field for the USA has some question marks regarding who to turn to. There are some players who are locks when healthy, like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley and Steve Cherundolo, but there are multiple options everywhere else on the field.

Who will make up Klinsmann's Best XI when the national team returns to action? Here is SBI's selected USMNT Best XI and Second XI:


————-Herculez Gomez——-Clint Dempsey—————-

–Jose Torres———-Michael Bradley——–Landon Donovan–

————————-Jermaine Jones—————————–

Fabian Johnson———————————-Steve Cherundolo

————–Carlos Bocanegra—-Geoff Cameron—————–

————————–Tim Howard——————————–


—————Jozy Altidore———-Terrence Boyd—————-

–Brek Shea——————————————-Graham Zusi–

——————Maurice Edu—Danny Williams——————–

Edgar Castillo———————————–Michael Parkhurst

————–Clarence Goodson—Michael Orozco Fiscal———

—————————–Brad Guzan—————————–

Some thoughts:

These are based on players Klinsmann has tended to prefer, and players has actually called up, not necessarily the best 22 in the entire depth chart. For my money, Sacha Kljestan would merit a look in the Second XI as the attacking midfielder, with Eric Lichaj an option as well.

Danny Williams was outstanding against Jamaica on Tuesday, but I'm not sure Klinsmann is ready to hand him the job ahead of Jermaine Jones when Michael Bradley returns to the team. Jones is a workhorse who can handle the No. 6 role well. He hasn't been at his sharpest in recent matches, but he was solid on Tuesday and has shown in the past that he can work well alongside Bradley. All that said, Williams has served notice that he is ready to be a serious long-term option for the national team.

Same goes for Graham Zusi, who played well enough to be a solid Second XI pick, but not enough to be considered ahead of a healthy Landon Donovan in the starting lineup. Zusi was excellent against Jamaica, and clearly gives Klinsmann another dynamic option off the bench.

Zusi could be a starting option if Klinsmann wants a more direct attack. He could deploy Donovan on the left and Zusi on the right. That could wind up being the most dangerous attack the USMNT can deploy.

Carlos Bocanegra gets the nod ahead of Clarence Goodson because, for my money, his experience and threat on set pieces make him the better option. Geoff Cameron is a lock to start at this point. He has been outstanding in recent weeks and months and is only getting better.

No, Jose Torres isn't a natural left winger, but in this system he isn't really expected to play like one. He showed against Jamaica that he can keep possession and cover ground well on the left side of the field. He played well enough to remain a starting option heading into October's qualifiers.

You might notice a variation in formation in the Second XI. Fact is it's tough to see Maurice Edu playing in a more advanced role, but he is someone who would make the depth chart with the second XI. You could see that same Second XI line up in a 4-3-3, with Zusi playing at the tip of a triangle in front of Edu and Williams, with Shea at left forward.

UPDATE- Since some have asked, here the Starting lineup I would like to see take on Antigua & Barbuda on Oct. 12th:







What do you think of these selections? Who would you put on the first team that didn't make it? Who is missing from the 22 that you think should have made it?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Chef

    No, just no. Bradley’s possession game by game over the past 2 years is far superior to Torres’.


  • Dave from Charlotte

    True in the sense that he does not play RM for his club.

    But, unlike every other “out of position” choice Klinsi has made…whether it is the 3 DM abomination in Kingston, or the Torres as LM… whatever, this is the ONLY Klinsi “experiment” that seems to have worked (for 1 game). Williams out wide did not work, etc.


  • Shawn

    Everyone keeps talking about how good a 6 Jones is. When has he played a 6 for JK? He’s almost always played as an 8. Linking play and gettin forward. I rarely see him sitting in front of the CBs- and he gets forward waaay too much to be considered a 6.

    The question regarding his inclusion is not is he better than Dwilliams, beckerman, or Edu as a 6. Its whether he is better than Bradley as an 8?

    I, personally, don’t think so.


  • Chris H


    This would be my preferred lineup. Donovan and Dempsey are free to go at attackers and cut inside to free up the wings for Johnson and Dolo. I would love to see two of our most creative and technical players (Johnson and Dempsey) overlapping, going at defenders, and generally causing mismatches on their side of the field. Donovan and Dolo have an amazing rapport together because of their experience with each other, they just always work well together.

    Williams plays as the #6 and Bradley as the #8. I agree with everyone above that Williams is more disciplined than JJ and brings the technical ability we need in that position. Bradley is just a boss, and pushing him further up the field allows for him to combine well with others. Jozy always plays better for the nats when he has a striking partner with him, and this allows Gomez more freedom for his movement and dropping into midfield without stretching the field, which we saw a little bit of in the Jamaica game. Besides, a two forward alignment that doesn’t include Deuce makes it much less possible for three defensive midfielders to be on the field at the same time, which is what I hate more than anything


  • Shawn

    I’ve read that he doesn’t anymore. That playing the 6 was one of his major beefs with a past coach, but I honestly don’t know.

    I just havent’ seen him play it for the US much at all.


  • Chris H

    Sorry, two edits “free to go at defenders” in the first paragraph, not to go at attackers, and then the sentence about Gomez should read “this allows Gomez more freedom for his movement and dropping into midfield without compromising our ability to stretch the field”. What I meant was with Deuce and Gomez up top, both of them like to drop into midfield, and sometimes we weren’t able to stretch the Jamaican defense because both were playing so shallow. Having Jozy and Herc would allow Herc freedom to roam and still leave a target man up front to stretch the D.


  • bradsdsu13

    yes zusi did well, and I am ecstatic that you realized it was only for 1 game. My mind set is that Zusi, while he did play well, lacks the qualities of a RM. Because he is out of position, he has a CM mindset which is look middle, not down the flanks, and he lacks PACE.

    While I would choose Zusi over say Williams Torres Beckerman Jones or any other unfathomable CM on the Right, I would prefer a natural RM or outside player.

    This leads me to suggest Donovan(obviously if hes healthy), Dempsey as our best choices.

    And if we use them in other positions CALL UP GATT.
    Ive seen some of his matches and highlights, the Boy is faster then anyone on the current squad. He can score goals, track back on D(from his split time as wing and RB) and he can TAKE PLAYERS 1V1, something nobody on the US can do.


  • Shawn

    Regarding Zusi- cutting middle is how they want their RAM- to provide overlaps by the outside backs. I don’t think Zusi is any slower than Dempsey.

    Both can play outside mids and cut inwards.. creating space for Dolo and Johnson. What JK mostly wants is technical ability, vision, and outside shooting. Thats why Torres got the nod there. Gatt is likely to be a RB in this sytem. Thats where most of the width comes from.

    Really, in this system there are three interchangable attacking mids. I don’t know if Zusi is the best there, but he’s a lot better than Williams and Torres. I think it would be interesting seeing guys like SK, Pontius, Adu, or Feilhaber in those roles. But none of them seem to be on form enough- aside from SK- and for some reason he doesn’t seem to fit with JK well.

    So until a better option comes around with high techincal ability, vision, and high Football/soccer IQ- Zusi seems the best fit.


  • Chef

    Starting XI





    Second XI






  • fischy

    Real Fans Know.

    There’s one Choice Possibility, but also one Nicely Developing Left side option.


  • danny

    Why do people keep calling Jones and Bradley defensive mids as a way to dismiss their offensive value? They are 2 of our best attacking players.


  • andrew in tally

    I’d like to see Eddie Johnson called in to the final two games. He can give us a dual threat – aerial and speed – which we sorely lack. None of our forwards worry defenders for pace. Also EJ can surely bring it on set pieces and corners.


  • Call me crazy but...

    2014 Lineup




  • BL

    don’t like the argument of moving Johnson. U.S. has been looking for a solid left back since Agoos decided to start putting balls into his own net in 2002. We finally have one and people are trying to push him into midfield? Lets not forget the past 10 years of Heath Pearce, Johnny B, trying to convert Beasley and Convey, shifting Boca, etc. Let Johnson develop in this role and we will have an anchor there for the next 6 years.


  • RLW2020

    they are good in attack, but they don’t contribute to the wing play. leads to a congested middle when there are more that 2 cm’s on the field unless one stays with the attack..


  • RLW2020

    torres is B team material! I would rather have Zusi, Dempsey, Gomez or Shea in the LM/LW spot. I really hope someone from the Gaat, Shea, Gyau, Adu, etc. class steps it up soon!


  • RLW2020

    not bad! but Williams or Jones > Edu. I want Lichaj to be there just as much as you but he doesn’t start for Villa or even play much at all so why would he be with the National Team. once he is ready it would be great to move Johnson up.


  • RNG

    Having seen Torres’ best US match– which was the friendly against Turkey–I agree that he has a lot of potential, and at his best could be an extremely useful player moving the ball around. But right now he just seems so slow (of thought) and so timid, that it’s hard to push for him. Even Klinsmann has said it. {On the flip side, all of his issues seem to be mental, not physical, so perhaps he can turn himself around.]


  • Joel J

    Oops, I misspelled, Zusi, honest mistake. But yes, we had 79% possession in the first half, Jamaica definitely bunkered down. In the last 10, he was pretty much out of the game and subbed… so what’s wrong with what I wrote? I think he’s definitely a nice piece to have on the bench, and he’ll definitely get more opportunities to prove himself.


  • Joel J

    Gatt would be nice to have on the wing. I would love to see Donovan and Gatt on both sides tearing it up, with Dempsey and Gomez creating space.


  • Lorenzo

    Jones is not as good as Bradley offensively. Dude can shoot, but always tries to do too much on offense, and can’t control the ball under pressure (on the attack) as Bradley. Bradley’s passing is a tad better I think.

    I would like to see Williams behind Bradley. Absolutely agree with Ives. Watching that game I was thinking, just imagine if it were Bradley infront of Williams.

    I really like Ives line up (possibly put Altidore up top and swap Dempsey on right for Zusi). I WOULD LOVE TO SEE EITHER!


  • Louis Z

    My opinion is, If and when Chandler comes back, it won’t be to replace DOLO just yet. he will be replacing Johnson as a LB and Johnson will be our LM.


  • Scott

    if you are going to move Dempsey to the midfield, then put him on the left and LD on the right. That is their preferred sides. Personally I like having Zusi working with Dolo. Instant chemistry and trust. Short of Zusi showing that he can’t perform at this level, you don’t miss opportunities to pair up players that meld naturally. Much like we are seeing with Boca and Cameron and LD and Altidore. I think that many people don’t realize that LD brings out the best in Altidore. It seems like every time he scores for us, he is assisted by LD. Chemistry is everything when skill is approximate.


  • Scott

    On Zusi, I agree that he is untested at this level. Having said that, I play him against A&B. He didn’t cost us anything when he came in late against Mexico, he was very good against Jamaica and he plays against better teams than A&B routinely in the MLS. I see the A&B game as another good game to further test him. He is a mature player, a leader and has shown (however briefly) that his game has translated to the international level (so far). He combines very well with Dolo, reads the game well, shuts down passing lanes and isn’t afraid to shoot (and if you look, you will find that he is an assist machine and hits some great long shots). If he looks good against A&B, play him the next game.


  • Joel J

    Agreed. I would completely play him against A&B. No offense to them, but they are not on the level of the other teams in the group. They’ll probably look to counter, and Zusi and Dolo played extremely well with each other. I have no problem with him seeing the field there, but whether he starts or not, really depends on who else we bring. But definitely, he’s in my 23.


  • colin

    Both Altidore and Boyd are better options than Gomez, who, has a low strike rate and brings little else to the team other than dead ball ability, which he would not even be the first option for if Donovan and Bradley were healthy. Dont mind gomez, but he is a sub not a starter. Just look at how well he does in Mexico off the bench. Further, I think Altidore for sure, and to a certain extent boyd are both much better starters. Altidore just does not seem to do so well off the bench, which he has commonly been resigned to doing since Klinsman came in.


  • Pete

    I love this line up, but I would put Jozy up front. He is our only CF to play at the world cup, and this is a service line up!


  • Pete


    Cherundolo(Chandler in future). Cameron. Boca(Onyewu if he plays regular at Malaga). Johnson
    Edu or Williams
    Jones or Kljestan(Diskeruud/Corona in future).Bradley
    Donovon(Gatt in future). Dempsey(Gyau in future)


  • Pete

    Agreed. Look at the France (Altidore was our best player) and Italy game. Gomez couldn’t survive at that international speed.


  • Cornelius

    I hear you, BL. But based on his excellent play in the Gold Cup, I don’t see why Lichaj couldn’t be the LB anchor. At the very least, Lichaj should be brought to camp. I prefer him as a backup to Johnson over Castillo.


  • Artie

    Torres is torrible, just torrible. The idea that anyone could think he’s one of the best eleven soccer players in this country makes me hang my head in shame.


  • schmitty

    No to a Williams-Jones-Bradley midfield. It will produce no attack what-so-ever. As a sporting KC fan, I’ve watched this type of midfield with the Caesar-Nagamura-Espinoza lineup. Way too defensive. In a 4-3-3, there has to be a creator and as good as Bradley is, he’s not a creator


  • Tank

    Ives love the last formation with Donny back on the left side would love to see how they play out maybe they get 85% possesion and even more chances at goal against A&B go USA!!!


  • bha

    Wow. I think the team you mention here is the most mentally tough. Would love to see them play this formation against Antigua if and only if it didn’t affect the preparation for Guatemala.

    The only problem I have with it is that Zusi isn’t playing. We must develop a play-making midfielder before Rio. Somehow, I think we need to have Bradley and Zusi together by early 2013. Either Williams or Jones will be the odd man out, provided both stay healthy.

    One thing though–I love Jermaine Jones’ toughness. But he’s straight red card or double yellow card just waiting to happen. That may not hurt in a game with Antigua, but it could be devastating in a game with Guatemala.


  • bha

    Beckerman has always been a step-and-a-half slow. In a pinch, I can’t quibble with him being called up to the team when someone is injured during a friendly. However, under no circumstances should Beckermen ever be called up for a WC qualifier.

    Now, only getting to World Cup matters. Beckermen will never make the WC team. Give someone else a chance to play who may have some speed.

    Jamaica has speed. Why would the coach think Beckermen was a choice? It was just insane to play Beckermen against Jamaica.


  • Chad

    Gomez has played awesome, but not sure he should start ahead of Altidore. Gomez, is better suited as a sub. I know there’s plenty of complaints on Altidore’s MNT performance…but he’s extremely skilled and could peform better with an offensive midfield.


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