By IVES GALARCEP
Jurgen Klinsmann has several of them to make and many of them are difficult ones. That may sound like a problem, but in the case of Klinsmann and his wealth of U.S. Men’s National Team lineup options, it really isn’t.
Klinsmann has multiple options to choose from at several key positions when he settles on his lineup for the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final against Panama.
Does he deploy Joe Corona on the right wing, or give Alejandro Bedoya another run? Does he stick with Eddie Johnson as Landon Donovan’s strike partner, or does he bring back Chris Wondolowski? Does he stick with Stuart Holden as Kyle Beckerman’s central midfield partner, or does he go with Mix Diskerud?
Then there is arguably the toughest decision Klinsmann has to make. Does he stick with Clarence Goodson at centerback, who has been having a very strong Gold Cup, or does he go with Omar Gonzalez, who has been a regular starting centerback on the full U.S. team?
So who will Klinsmann turn to against a strong Panama side? Here is the projected starting lineup we see taking the field for the U.S. team on Sunday:
PROJECTED USMNT LINEUP vs. PANAMA
—————Eddie Johnson————Landon Donovan—————
Jose Torres—————–Stuart Holden——————Joe Corona
DaMarcus Beasley————————————Michael Parkhurst
—————-Matt Besler——————-Clarence Goodson———
Some thoughts on the lineup:
The centerback question is a big one, but it won’t really be a big surprise if Klinsmann sticks with the Goodson-Besler combo. Goodson has enjoyed an outstanding Gold Cup, and really has boosted his stick in the full national team pecking order. What is interesting about Gonzalez’s inclusion in the squad is that it wasn’t the original plan for Klinsmann, who had planned to bring in Graham Zusi. If Klinsmann intended on giving Goodson the Gold Cup to prove himself as a top centerback option, then it would make sense that he keeps him in the lineup for the final.
Why Johnson over Wondolowski? Johnson’s speed offers a better threat against Panama’s centerbacks. Roman Torres is a physical beast who can dominate, but he and centerback partner Roberto Chen will have a hard time dealing with Johnson and Landon Donovan’s mobility.
Alejandro Bedoya had an outstanding match in the semifinal win vs. Honduras. So why isn’t he projected to start in the final? Joe Corona has had an excellent tournament and has played well enough to earn the nod in the final. Bedoya is an intriguing option for the pressure he could put on Panama left back Carlos Rodriguez, but Corona’s inclusion can help the U.S. control the possession battle, which could be key to dominating the game.
Bedoya very well could still wind up starting in another role, with left wing a viable option. We have Jose Torres lifted because of his excellent left foot and ability to combine passes in the attack, but if Klinsmann decides he wants some speed on the wing and someone to pressure Panamanian right back Leonel Parris, Bedoya could be that man.
Stuart Holden had a steady game in the semifinal win vs. Honduras and should get the nod over Diskerud, who has shown a good ability to come off the bench and make an impact.
Michael Parkhurst should get the nod at right back again, and what we should consider is the very real possibility that Klinsmann is grooming him to start in the September qualifiers. With Cherundolo sidelined by surgery, and Tim Chandler’s national team future an on-going question mark, having Parkhurst get a good run of games can only help boost his confidence and familiarize him with the rest of the team.
So who would the fans start if given the chance? Here is the group I see making up the USMNT Fan XI:
—————Eddie Johnson————–Landon Donovan—————
Alejandro Bedoya—Stuart Holden—-Mix Diskerud——Joe Corona
DaMarcus Beasley—————————————–Michael Orozco
—————-Matt Besler——————-Clarence Goodson———-
What starting lineup would I go with? I would go with our projected XI, which makes the most sense, though I would be very intrigued to see the Fan XI in action.
What do you think of our projected starting lineup? Think it’s strong enough to beat Mexico? What changes would you make? Would you rather see the Fan XI? Who are you really hoping gets a start on Sunday?
Share your thoughts below.