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U.S. Men's National Team

A look at who the USMNT could start vs. Costa Rica

DaMarcus Beasley, Jesus Zavala

By IVES GALARCEP

When the new U.S. Men’s National Team roster was announced earlier today, the initial reaction was one of shock at the dearth of defensive options on the 23-man roster, but you only needed to look a little closer to find that there aren’t as few defensive options as you might think.

The sudden rash of injuries to players like Fabian Johnson, Edgar Castillo and Timmy Chandler have left the ranks thin at the fullback positions, but it is a safe bet that Klinsmann will turn to some players to give him minutes at fullback who don’t normally play the position.

That isn’t meant as a knock on players like Tony Beltran and Justin Morrow, who both started in the team’s 0-0 draw vs. Canada in January, but the reality is neither of those players has World Cup qualifying experience.

So who does? DaMarcus Beasley has plenty of it, and his stints at fullback with the national team haven’t been covered in glory, his recent good form in Mexico with Puebla, and his experience playing in big matches make him a real possibility at left back. Conversely, Geoff Cameron has seen his share of playing time at right back for Stoke City so a run there in qualifying wouldn’t be a big shock for him either.

With those things in mind, here is a look at the starting lineup we could see Jurgen Klinsmann trot out against Costa Rica on Friday:

PROJECTED USMNT XI vs. COSTA RICA

ProjectedUSMNTXIvsCostaRica

As I wrote about last week, Jurgen Klinsmann has made it clear that he is open to playing a midfield where Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley are alone in the middle of the park, with no pure defensive midfielder between them and the defense. The Costa Rica match would be a good opportunity for him to try that system out.

The wealth of in-form forwards makes this projected lineup make plenty of sense. Eddie Johnson has had success as a left forward before, and Herculez Gomez has been playing on the right for Santos Laguna this year. Throw in Jozy Altidore’s improved play as a target forward and you have the potential for a strong attack.

Getting back to the defense. While Beasley and Cameron aren’t shutdown fullbacks, both can give you quite a bit going forward, which fits in well with this group of players. Johnson and Beasley are no strangers to each other’s game. The same could be said for Cameron and Gomez.

Plenty is made of Beasley’s past failure at fullback, which came in a 2009 World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica. Yes, he was shocking that day, but so were plenty other Americans. Also, Beasley put in a short stint at left back against Mexico last August and held his own there. That cameo just might be what gives Klinsmann confidence to play him there.

Could we see Matt Besler in the starting lineup? It’s possible, but I think Klinsmann will want Edu’s experience and athleticism in there as a complement to Gonzalez, who appears to be ahead of Besler in the national team pecking order right now. Given the fact that Clarence Goodson has been playing regularly for Brondby you have to consider him as an option as well.

Ultimately, Edu slots in here at centerback because of his overall ability and given Klinsmann’s recent admission that he’s considering doing away with a pure No. 6 role. If Klinsmann goes back to that, then look for Edu to start in midfield and either Besler or Goodson to start at centerback, with one of the forwards going to the bench (though that would seem a more likely scenario for the Mexico match).

So why no Brek Shea in the starting lineup? He isn’t 90-minutes match fit so throwing him in as a starter would be a bit risky. He will definitely see time, and certainly will be an option against Mexico, but it’s tough to see him starting against Costa Rica given the relatively little playing time he’s received at Stoke City.

What do you think of this projected lineup? Think it can beat Costa Rica? What changes would you make to this lineup?

Share your thoughts below.

316 comments
  • Wang Chung

    Our play throughout qualifying has been consistently inconsistent. That being said, Jurgen cannot continue to play 3 CM’s and starting Altidore. If your going to play 3 CM’s, start with a striker who does not need service to produce goals ex: Gomez. He’s absence in the Honduras game was key. Gomez, if he plays will while be the key for this two qualifiers.

    The “Dream” line up from this player selection for Costa Rica:

    Guzan
    Cameron Edu Gonzalez Morrow

    Zusi Bradley Jones Shea

    Dempsey
    Gomez

    What we’ll most likely see against the Tico’s:

    Guzan
    Cameron Goodson Gonzalez Morrow

    Edu
    Bradley Jones

    Zusi Dempsey Eddie Johnson

    Altidore

    The back 4: Klinsi will look past Goodson’s mediocre pace and value his experience, he’ll play Cameron in position for the first time and Gonzo will have to play better. Morrow is the only wild card here. Edu will have to protect Goodson and Gonzo, he’ll be up to the challenge.

    The midfield has been a cluster frick with the Jones and Bradley partnership being an odd pair of them both wanting to go forward Jones more so than Bradley. If I was Klinsi, I’d take away his ability to roam and have him sit back more. Jones is not Yaya Toure, Jones is a mediocre attacker.

    Zusi will be good a set pieces, but his service on the right will be lacking. Eddie Johnson will continue to play out of position and we’ll get lost in the match.

    Dempsey will be Dempsey he’ll score a scrappy goal and Altidore will get no service and will fail to hold the ball up as usual. Then we will all complain about how lazy he is.

    And Finally, I think a 1-0 USA Prediction is fair, I think this will play out like the Jamaica home match last qualifying round.

    Like

  • AcidBurn

    So with all this “DMB at left back” talk, I went back and re-watched the highlights of the US – Costa Rica WCQ from 2009.

    I saw DMB get smoked 2 minutes into the game and get caught hopelessly out of position while one Saborio waltzed through the defense and scored from outside the box. Hope that Saborio won’t be playing against us again.

    Actually, I wish I had those five minutes back. Yee gods, that was some crappy play there. I watched Bradley get turned in the box for a move that I only thought worked in FIFA. The back line looked more like traffic cones.

    Like

      • AcidBurn

        I guess the silver lining is as bad as the US looked in Honduras, that CRC game was much worse. The highlights show a 45 second stretch where the US is hopelessly chasing after the ball, with the accompanying ole’s….

        And let’s not forget DMB’s whiff in the 09 confed cup.

        Like

    • beto

      +1 i like the idea of DMB contributing, especially in Mexico, but not at LB. I would rather someone like Morrow or Besler just play defense in that spot and lock down Ruiz, Sabario, etc.

      Like

  • fischy

    Given the options, Ives’ lineup is realistic, and might be effective. Certainly, it’s putting in the more experienced players available, which is what most managers would do.

    One concern I have — Beasley got a run out at left back once before and flat out cost us the game. He’s just too small to play strong defense.

    Like

  • Steve

    ————————-Altidore/Boyd————–Gomez/Johnson———————-
    Beasley/Shea——————–Dempsey/Klejsten—————–Zusi/Corona—–
    ———————Bradley/Edu———————–Jones/Beckerman—————–
    ————-Besler/Morrow——-Omar/Goodson——–Cameron/Beltran———–
    ———————————-Guzan/Rimando/Johnson———————————–

    Defenders to stay at home. Bradley/Jones must stay disciplined and only have 1 move forward at time. Width to come from RM and LM, who will also need to track back.

    Like

    • baropbop

      I don’t have any faith that JJ and MB are able to play that way…or be accountable in any sense. If Jones plays back, whatever. Not my ideal, but ok. However, I think you have to throw the guys most likely to score forward and hang your hat on it. I would put MB in that category. Neither JJ or MB has any business running a midfield in front of a rag tag back line. Too many turnovers and too many fouls. I think you put MB the furthest forward he has ever been and tell him to get a goal.

      Like

      • Steve

        Yeah, I don’t know whether or not they will be able to do that either. This is just my guess on tactics based upon the players selected and the desire to have some cover in the event of further injury. Could see them pressing the attack and then subbing in a LB for a FW once we have a goal on the board.

        Like

      • Dennis

        This silliness you have about Jones and Bradley giving away the ball is just that. Game-in and game-out they are the best US players at keeping possession and have the highest pass completions on the team. Of course, on those occasions when they do turn the ball over, because of where they play it immediately presents an opportunity to the opponents. But they are consistently better than any other choices available for the role.

        Like

      • SBI Troll

        These guys wouldn’t be professionals in a top 4 Euro league if they weren’t accountable for their roles. Both Bradley and Jones have played a number 6 role numberous times before, so it’s not like we have two #10s side by side who don’t track back.

        Like

      • baropbop

        They are accountable when they don’t have someone else to blame. But you can’t run a 3 man midfield in an attacking style with defense first personnel.
        The midfield has looked absolutely horrible in almost every WCQ match. I don’t deny their pedigree, but to suggest that it’s working baffles me.

        Like

    • beto

      the 3-5-2 gets our best players in their best positions. if Jurgen thinks the team is able/ready for that transition it could be interesting.

      Like

  • martin

    I will be in Mexico City to watch the US get killed. They need to beat Costa Rica.

    Like

  • Tex

    Stats

    Based upon historical games played with USMNT,

    Dempsey – 0.35 goals/game
    Gomez – 0.31
    Altidore – 0.25
    EJ – 0.31
    Bradley – 0.15
    Beasley – 0.17
    Boca – 0.12
    Shea – 0
    Jones – 0.06

    Defensively, allowing no more than 1 goal/game would be a success

    Any thoughts

    Like

  • Divers suck

    Form is overrated. So is experience. Experience is a proxy for head game. If you play a lot, you’re supposed to be calm and composed. I’m sure experience helps your head game, but many experienced players still flub (ie- Jeff Agoos), and many inexperienced players play like champs (ie- Rafael Varane).

    As for form, my little brother got a full ride playing D1 soccer. He’s in med-school now, and hasn’t played a game for 3 years. I however, have been in great form in my Sunday rec-league for the last several months. He comes to visit occasionally and whoops all our a$$es. Because he’s better than us, and our rec-league just isn’t that good. Ball skill, athleticism, speed and composure matter way more than form. I would take Lichaj over Morrow or Beltran. In a heart beat. He’s just better than them. And for those of you who like to site how poor he’s played, have you ever played on a piss-poor defense? Defending is a team effort, and if your team is sucking it, it’s pretty tough to look good, especially if, in reality, you’re not that good compared to your competition, and you’re playing as a freeking “wingback.”

    Like

    • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho

      The thing about Lichaj is he isn’t even playing for the piss poor defense. He isn’t even making the bench in many games. We are talking about professional soccer players here not your little league team. The comparison just doesn’t work. Your argument against experience is just off the mark too. Soccer is a very mental game and experienced players are generally stronger mentally. That matters. Just because you found 1 example of a veteren player playing poorly and a young player stepping up doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds more examples of the opposite occurring. thats why conventional wisdom places value in experience. No one is saying it solves everything, but it can’t be so easily dismissed.

      Like

    • baropbop

      I mostly agree with you. But there are 2 positions where experience does matter. Goalkeeper and CB. An experienced CB can make up for a lot…look at Rio Ferdinand for instance. For this reason I think Boca should have been called. Especially considering the injury situation and importance of these games.
      However, I am in total agreement that I would take Lichaj (and many others) over anyone in the MLS

      Like

  • Travis in Miami

    ——————–Guzan———————-
    Cameron—Gonzo—–Goodson—Beasley
    ———————-Edu———————-
    ———–Bradley———-Deuce———–
    Gomez————Jozy————Johnson

    I don’t think this would be too far fetched considering JK’s love for that #6 in front of the back line.

    Like

    • baropbop

      As far as things that JK might actually do go, I’m hoping for something more like this. I don’t see him leaving Jones off though.
      ——————–Guzan———————-
      Cameron—Gonzo—–Goodson—MLS
      ———————-Edu———————-
      ———–Bradley——-Beckerman———–
      ——————-Deuce————–
      ———–Gomez————Jozy

      Like

      • Travis in Miami

        with rumors of Jones being the captain…you probably have a point. If that is the case it would look like your line up w/Jones in Beckerman’s spot. Not very different from what we’ve been seeing.

        Like

      • baropbop

        Which is exactly what I’m afraid of. I think it has been made abundantly clear that a midfield consisting of Jones, Bradley and Edu doesn’t work. They are just too similar. I know everyone loves to say that Jones and Bradley are box to box. But they aren’t. When you make all 3 of these kinda responsible for defending, you end up with no one responsible for defending. We also need someone to minimize turnovers and play possession, these guys are the worst at it. Not against any of them being on the field. Just not in this form.

        Like

  • Vic

    There seems to be alot of debate about Beasley playing LB. Question for Ives: do you have knowledge from sources that this is being considered or is this your opinion on who you think will start at LB?

    Like

  • baropbop

    To Ives…and everyone
    I hadn’t really thought about it until now, but do you think that JK is choosing MLS guys because he is listening to the fans? I just can’t imagine a day 1 JK making these selections.

    Like

  • Chris2

    Ives – Me
    Beasley Deuce Gomez
    Jones Bradley
    Cameron Gonzo Goodson Shea

    We’re doomed, so let me and Galarcep play. We’ll have fun. Put out a serious lineup when Donovan’s back.

    Like

  • twh

    Questions:

    Can Morrow play either side?
    Can Goodson play outside? (RB)
    Can Edu play RB?
    (Morrow played the whole game vs Canada. Beltran got pulled at HT. I think we should leave the Cam/Gonzo pair at CB, so RB becomes more of a concern than LB)

    Like

    • beto

      maybe – the question is can he play his natural position at this level..
      NO!
      Edu is better in the middle, cameron plays RB for Stoke often.

      Like

    • baropbop

      As far as MLS guys go. I’m surprised sean franklin isn’t first choice for outside back in this position.

      I definitely think Edu at right back is a possibility. Don’t know that he ever has, but I would trust him with it. Cameron is much more likely. With edu, Cameron, and gonzo as 3/4 of the back line I can feel confident.

      Goodson cant play outside. I dont see big tall guys kn at the same time…and I assume JK is keaning toward Gonzo

      Like

  • Peter

    I absolutely love this lineup to be quite honest. Regardless of what you feel about him EDU is our best defensive player hands the hell down!!! Look at the Italy game, Mexico Game, hell even go back to last world cup when he comes in vs. Ghana. and any other game he is featured, we simply do not give up goals while he is playing. He is not better than Jones nor Bradley, but we do not give up GOALS when he plays. Teams we’ve lost too when he starts (Brazil, France, and Spain) damn they’re terrible. Teams we’ve beat or tied: Italy, Argentina, Mexico in Mexico. But the honest numbers are these

    GOAL Differential WHEN HE IS IN THE GAME IN 2012 GAMES:
    +8
    Beat: Italy, and Mexico in Mexico
    Tied: Russia in Russia

    He is our best defensive player. I broke down everyone, and he alone makes our defense better.

    Like

    • beto

      Edu is legit. I can see him playing CB or CM.. just not sure how to work him into the starting XI

      Like

      • beto

        maybe:
        —————Altidore—————
        —-Dempsey——-Gomez———
        —————–Zusi—————–
        ———Jones——Bradley——–
        —————-Edu——————
        —Besler–Gonzalez–Cameron—
        ————–Guzan—————–

        Like

  • beto

    —–Dempsey——-Altidore——-Gomez——-
    ————————Zusi————————-
    —————-Jones——Bradley—————-
    -Morrow—-Besler——–Gonzalez—Cameron-
    ———————–Guzan————————

    FWD: Goal Scorers! I am betting on Herc Gomez for a few. Boyd, Shea and EJ off the bench too
    MID: Zusi should have the CAM role and be tasked with providing the assists, Corona is his back up if needed. a lot is being made of Jones/Bradley but if Zusi is playing a good game in front of them they will just need to hold the possession and play into the attack when needed. Kljestian, Beckerman and Beasley off the bench if needed.
    DEF: hopefully they are not tested too much but the Besler/Gonzo partnership should complement each other well (this will be the Gold Cup CB’s and maybe many more future games) and Morrow and Cameron on the wings hopefully will work for one day! Edu off the bench in CB if necessary.
    GK: faith in Guzano

    Like

  • MA1 Rodriguez

    I hate then 4-3-3 formation for USNT…doesn’t work for our boys.

    I just wish for no more Eddie Johnson and Beckerman.

    Cameron Gonzo Goodson Morrow (I guess)
    Beasley Jones Bradley Dempsey
    Boyd and Altidore

    Like

  • Go dynamo!

    Boyd
    Beasley Deuce
    Corona Gomez
    Bradley
    Shea/morrow edu Gonzales Cameron

    Chemistry = Cameron edu at stoke (for a bit) did well at azteca last year
    Beasley, corona and Gomez all from mex league ( if that counts)
    Edu and Gonzales from college

    I feel this is an attack oriented team that also has the option to push with Cameron Shea and morrow. When klinsi tossed Castillo into the lineup he allowed him to push up often and I would think he would expect that if he played Beasley, Shea or morrow at left back.
    Cameron can also push up the right.
    I actually like the options that DMB, Cameron, Shea and edu give us with so much experience at different positions.
    I chose Boyd because he has always looked dangerous compared to Altidore who seems to be turning into Brian Ching with his back to goal all the time. Not that that’s that bad, but not right from the start, maybe a late sub for a spark.
    For sure a different look against Mexico, but klinsi does well against Mexico if you all haven’t noticed. He understands they don’t like high pressure late in games.

    Go USA!!

    Like

  • Stan

    I think Bradley would make a good center back. Smart, disciplined and very skilled. In my opinion good center backs/sweeper is always one of the most skilled and inilectual players on the team. With more options in the midfield, it wouldn’t be a bad option.

    Like

  • rainORshine

    ives – we know you realize dempsey is not a CAM, so basically you are suggesting a 4-4-2 with EJ and gomez as your outside mids. suppose that would work except EJ and gomez are not outside mids

    beasley was mediocre in 2005. its been a LONG time since he was a decent option to start for USMNT

    ——————-altidore—————–
    –EJ/dempsey——————gomez–
    ———bradley–kljestan–jones——–
    morrow–goodson-gonzalez–cameron

    Like

    • Ives Galarcep

      First question. Do you watch Dempsey with Tottenham? He plays as an attacking midfielder (I don’t say CAM because there’s no such thing as a LAM or RAM, enough with the video game designation).

      Second question. Do you really think Johnson and Gomez can’t play on the wings? Funny, but last time I checked Santos Laguna’s coach is playing Gomez there almost exclusively and Klinsmann has kept Johnson on the left wing for a handful of matches now. Therefore it seems the idea that they are NOT outside mids isn’t something established coaches seem to agree with you about.

      Lastly, you knock Beasley but you want to start Morrow, who has one cap under his belt against a Canadian C team. I’m not saying Beasley is a lock to start, but he’s no less absurd a suggestion than any being made for left back.

      Like

      • rainORshine

        when dempsey plays centrally, whether for TFC or US, he is functionally a 2nd forward. his touches primarily come with his back to goal. he seems himself primarily as a goalscorer – which he is. we both know this is true and the fact that he has recorded far more goals than assists throughout career supports this.

        ok, fine, you want to play a 4-4-2 with dempsey underneath a target forward. great. now you just need to find outside mids…

        …and we know gomez and EJ are not outside mids – they are basically forwards/attackers. gomez has made his mark for santos almost exclusively on the outside of a forward 3 – as i have him positioned, not an outside mid in a 4-4-2. its kind of a big difference.
        johnson mostly plays (and has played) centrally in a 4-4-2, although he can occasionally be found wide in 4-3-3 (i think we will see more of this with addition of martins)

        aside from his starts at LM for JK i dont think he has otherwise played that position. personally i dont think it has looked too good and dont see why you would want to go playing guys out of position when there are options that put players in roles they are comfortable in…

        just my take…

        also, i dont play video games so im not sure what you are talking about with that comment. in the formation you posted it looks like dempsey is in a forward midfield attacking position, yes? i shortened that to CAM, which stands for central attacking midfielder. you can explain where my logic with that is faulty…

        Like

      • Ives Galarcep

        It’s a 4-3-3, not a 4-4-2. You’re choosing to call it a 4-4-2. At times the 4-3-3 could morph into a 4-5-1, but either way I don’t see Dempsey sitting way forward. I see him in midfield receiving passes from Bradley and Jones and circulating from there.

        And I gave you stick about the CAM acronym because that isn’t a term anybody in the sport actually uses. It’s one found in video games but not in real world soccer. Call him an attacking midfielder if you must, go ahead and say AM if you want, but when I see CAM it’s a bit suspicious of where that use comes from.

        Lastly, I was never debating Dempsey’s best position, but making the point that he CAN play as a playmaker and would in what I consider a very likely lineup. We’re trying to project the best possible team, and how best to use Dempsey on THIS team. Is he a better goal-scorer? Sure, but he’s also arguably the best playmaking option in the bunch, and when you consider that right now there are much more quality forward options than attacking midfield options, that’s why I can see Dempsey playing in an attacking midfield role.

        Like

      • Peter

        I absolutely love this lineup to be quite honest. Regardless of what you feel about him EDU is our best defensive player hands the hell down!!! Look at the Italy game, Mexico Game, hell even go back to last world cup when he comes in vs. Ghana. and any other game he is featured, we simply do not give up goals while he is playing. He is not better than Jones nor Bradley, but we do not give up GOALS when he plays. Teams we’ve lost too when he starts (Brazil, France, and Spain) damn they’re terrible. Teams we’ve beat or tied: Italy, Argentina, Mexico in Mexico. But the honest numbers are these

        GOAL Differential WHEN HE IS IN THE GAME IN 2012 GAMES:
        +8
        Beat: Italy, and Mexico in Mexico
        Tied: Russia in Russia

        He is our best defensive player. I broke down everyone, and he alone makes our defense better.

        Like

  • Dick Tracy

    A case for Besler to start at CB

    1. Great supplier of the ball from the back, what a 4-3-3 is built on.
    2. Left-footed
    3. Defensive awareness is unparalleled in MLS

    Like

  • Ryan B

    Is it that far fetched to ask if we can emulate AZ as best we can, that way we can get the best form for Jozy? If we play the team around him and structure ourselves like them, it will give Jozy the same mindset to score goals. It’s not a long term solution, but he does have 25 goals this season and USA is all about adapting to different styles of play. If it will get him to score and get a win or a point, we should give it a try. We have versatile players who can all play most areas of the pitch.

    Like

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