Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
NATAL, Brazil — The U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup preparations are over, and now Jurgen Klinsmann will have to decide which 11 players and formation give him the best chance at taking three points from the virtual must-win opener against Ghana.
Klinsmann is not short on options for his starting lineup for Monday’s Group G match at Arena das Dunas in Natal given how much he has experimented in recent months. There is the 4-3-2-1 setup that was used in the Americans’ final pre-World Cup friendly against Nigeria, the 4-2-3-1 that was deployed for much of the qualifying campaign, or the 4-4-2 diamond midfield that was fielded in a few of the more recently matches, and more.
Klinsmann knows that his side will likely need to take a balanced approach if they are to start group play with three points. That balanced approach will need to let players be just as capable in creating scoring chances as they are in defending against a Ghana team that possesses physicality, speed and some special individual talents.
With that in mind, here is the U.S. lineup SBI thinks is the safe bet to see against Ghana:
PROJECTED USMNT LINEUP vs. GHANA
Yes, this is the same lineup and same personnel that we saw the U.S. use in the 2-1 win over Nigeria. It allows the Americans to get organized quickly and throw numbers behind the ball, which helps a back line that is still coming together. It also gives Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey a bit of tactical freedom in the attack, which proved successful in that final World Cup tune-up.
As much as things are pointing to this being the lineup, Klinsmann is always good for at least one surprise. If he decides to differentiate a bit from the lineup that he used against the team he said was similar to Ghana earlier this month, here is another lineup we could see being used:
This setup would require Jones to sit back and defend, a tactical adjustment that would require him to be very disciplined but would allow Klinsmann to field another wide player in Graham Zusi. That added width could be important for the Americans as they take on a Ghana team with quality on the outside, but would mean that Bradley would likely have more defensive responsibilities than he would in the first formation listed.
What do you think of this projected starting lineup? What will be the key to securing three points versus. Ghana? Would you prefer to see the second formation than the first?
Share your thoughts below.