Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
MANAUS, Portugal — You would think that filling out a lineup would be fairly easy for Jurgen Klinsmann after his U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Ghana in its World Cup group opener, but the absence of Jozy Altidore and some other lingering injury concerns, could lead Klinsmann to make some tough decisions about his first-choice ll.
The big question heading into Sunday’s showdown with Portugal is just how will Klinsmann replace Altidore? Will he go with Chris Wondolowski, or Aron Johannsson, or will he pass on both and choose to deploy Clint Dempsey as a lone forward? I broke down the possibilities in this recent Goal.com feature.
There are also questions in midfield, with Alejandro Bedoya and Graham Zusi both options to start for the same right wing position, unless Klinsmann chooses to start them both.
I discussed the various options Klinsmann has in my latest update from Sao Paulo for the Sony Ambassador project, which includes Wondolowski’s take on replacing Altidore.
So who will Klinsmann turn to? Here is the projected starting lineup we could see taking the field against Portugal on Sunday.
PROJECTED USMNT STARTING XI vs. PORTUGAL
The only difference in this lineup from the Ghana lineup is Wondolowski replacing Altidore. Obviously Klinsmann could start Graham Zusi for Bedoya, or even John Brooks for Besler, depending on whether either Bedoya or Besler are still dealing with injury issues. Of course, Aron Johannsson could get the nod over Wondolowski, but we’ll give the Earthquakes striker the nod in this projection.
Now, Klinsmann could have a wild card and go with a midfield heavy lineup to try and control the game, which would mean not starting either Wondolowski or Johannson. This one seems a bit of a long shot, but one to consider:
With no true target striker option to turn to, Klinsmann can go with this lineup, with Dempsey operating as a non-traditional target forward. Bedoya and Zusi would be able to help the fullbacks deal with Portugal’s wingers and Jones and Bradley would partner with Beckerman to neutralize the Moutinho-Meireles tandem at the heart of Portugal’s midfield.
What do you think of our first lineup? Which of these would you like to see? Who are you hoping to see Klinsmann call on to start against Portugal?
Share your thoughts below.