World Cup Qualifying

Who Should the USMNT start vs. Trinidad & Tobago?


The U.S. Men’s National Team’s spot in the Hexagonal is all but sealed, but Jurgen Klinsmann faces several lineup decisions heading into the team’s final match of the current World Cup qualifying round.

Barring an epic collapse that would require the team to throw away a +12 goal differential, the U.S. will advance to the next stage of qualifying regardless of what happens against Trindad & Tobago on Tuesday. Given that knowledge, Jurgen Klinsmann does have a little bit of room to experiment, even if priority remains a spot atop the group.

Following Friday’s win over St. Vincent & The Grenadines, the U.S. lost Matt Besler and DeAndre Yedlin. Both players have returned to their respective clubs, while Michael Bradley and Michael Orozco have joined the squad following suspensions. Due to the absence of Besler and Yedlin, as well as the introduction of Tim Howard, the U.S. will feature at least three new starters, while several others could join the lineup if Klinsmann looks to make some changes.

Overall, Tuesday’s match is about balance. Despite having a spot in the Hex all but locked up, Klinsmann and co. still see a first place finish, and an early date with Mexico, as favorable. That makes Tuesday’s lineup selection all the more interesting. Does Klinsmann see Tuesday as a must-win heading into the Hex, or does he see Tuesday as a big-game launching pad for several younger stars?

Here’s a look at a potential USMNT starting XI we could see against Trinidad and Tobago:

USA Projected XI vs. Trinidad

Some thoughts:

Given the situation at hand, Tuesday’s match will be about the defense. Barring an epic collapse that results in a resounding multi-goal defeat, the USMNT should be just fine with their +12 goal differential over Guatemala. Any combination of defenders should be more than good enough to protect a margin that large, but given several notable absences, the USMNT backline remains a focal point.

DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Besler have left camp, leaving gaps at both fullback and central defense. Given the absence of John Brooks, the U.S. backline is in need of a mini-facelift Tuesday night, especially at the increasingly-shallow fullback position. Fortunately, the goalkeeper position has already been decided, as Tim Howard will be in net after deputizing for Brad Guzan on Saturday night.

Facing off with a T&T attack spearheaded by Kenwyne Jones, the U.S. will be tested. Geoff Cameron has started throughout the USMNT’s recent run, and should be in the lineup once again, although his position is up in the air. Following Yedlin’s suspension, right back remains an area of concern, and Cameron could be an option out wide. However, Klinsmann will likely be against shuffling central defenders more than he has to, making it logical to put Fabian Johnson at right back, a position he has shown he is more than capable of handling. That opens the door for Kellyn Acosta to earn another look at left back, while Michael Orozco remains an option anywhere across the backline after recently joining camp.

The big question remains who enters the lineup at centerback, and the competition would appear to be between Steve Birnbaum and Omar Gonzalez. The Pachuca defender has plenty of big game experience for both club and country which, in some ways, could be a drawback of starting him on Tuesday. Birnbuam is still asserting himself as a legitimate international defender, and a matchup with a forward like Jones could do wonders for his development going forward. If Klinsmann wants to play it safe, Gonzalez is as sturdy as they come, but playing Birnbaum could be the move looking towards the future.

The midfield sees the return of Michael Bradley, who joins the U.S. after serving a one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation. One would expect Bradley to slide right into the starting lineup, although Klinsmann could be tempted to rest him following a summer plagued by a knee injury. Alejandro Bedoya should also be an option in the center of the field given his recent performances with the Philadelphia Union. If Klinsmann opts to go unconventional, Darlington Nagbe could certainly be in line for a start after sitting out over the weekend, while Sacha Kljestan justified his spot in the team in Friday’s win with a spectacular substitute performance. In terms of younger options, Caleb Stanko could earn his first senior cap if the game turns towards the USMNT’s favor.

On the wings, the U.S. is not as deep as usual given the absence of Gyasi Zardes, but Klinsmann still has some decisions to make. Christian Pulisic more than earned a starting nod with his two-goal, one assist performance over the weekend. However, there could be a worry about too much, too soon with regards to the 17-year-old star. Several other young options are up for consideration as well, including Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola. The latter was one of the more impressive players in a pre-Copa America friendly against Puerto Rico, and an appearance on Tuesday could serve as a good test at just how ready the Tijuana playmaker is when it comes to the senior game.

The forward positions were occupied by Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood over the weekend, and it would be beneficial to give both another run out against T&T. Against a significantly better opponent, the duo could continue to work on their partnership atop the field. The two as a unit very much remain a work in progress, but the only way to continue that process is playing next to one another and adjusting.

Overall, expect a bit of a mixed lineup for Tuesday’s match. Look for the USMNT’s spine to remain in tact, while young pieces around it step in to make their mark in what is certainly a big game.

  • bizzy



    F. JOHNSON—————————————BEDOYA




    Result; USMNT 3 – T&T 1


      • bizzy

        you’re right I didn’t lol (two quick changes)








    • Two Cents

      Well, you have seen all the comments already about player availability, so I will just add my proposed lineup below:


      Klestjan/Nagbe can interchange. I feel like we need an engine like Bedoya to track back a little bit and help Bradley out. Granted, since our goal differential is so high, we may want to push the envelope offensively and put Klestjan over Bedoya. Although momentary and against poor competition, it would be nice to see Klestjan and Pulisic combining on one side of the field. Wood makes really good runs, so I expect him to be more on the left hand side cutting in, while Pulisic will take over the right flank. They could be alternated or the formation could go into a 4-4-2, but then we don’t have a true winger on one side, unless we use Bedoya to somewhat fill that void.

      However, I expect something like this from JK:



    • SBI TroII

      Some weird lineups here so far, especially the first one. Let me show you what Klinsmann will do:


      It looks like a 4-4-2 but will shift more as a 4-1-3-2 with Bedoya cutting inside and Bradley staying closed to the center backs.

      Options off the bench will include: Morris, Nagbe, Zusi

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lost in Space

      I could accept this if you replaced Beckerman with Bradley….or if this was used as the Beckerman’s last match ever in a USMNT jersey.
      Realistically though I’m hoping we’ll see something more along the following………

      I don’t want to see Orozco or Beckerman step foot on the field beyond walking to the bench.


  • downintexas

    I know JK has said he handed the starting job to Guzan, but what does it say that Howard gets the harder of the two games?


    • johnnyrazor

      I think JK is hedging his bets as Guzan only is getting time at Boro because Valdez is hurt, and Brad hasn’t been outstanding. If Valdez recovers Guzan may not find many minutes over the next few months whereas Howard will play almost all the minutes at Colorado.


  • johnnyrazor

    I’d be ok with Jozy getting the night off, or coming off the bench due to the travel and short rest, but don’t see it happening.

    What I think we’ll see

    Who I would like to see

    Subs: Morris for a striker 65 minute, Nagbe for Klejstan 70 minute, Stanko for Bradley 85th minute.

    Liked by 1 person

  • antonnynoronha

    bedoya and zusi no please


  • Gary Page

    From what I have read and heard from Klinsmann, I don’t think he wants to start Pulisic yet in a meaningful game, especially since he hasn’t been going 90 for his club. He will give him that chance in one or two of the upcoming friendlies. Jozy and Wood up top, with Bedoya, Bradley, Kljestan, and Zusi in the middle. Maybe he will start Nagbe instead of Kljestan, but Nagbe is sure to get some minutes, I think. I would keep FJ at LB, Cameron at RB since he has played there a lot for Stoke, And Omar and either Birnbaum or Orozco at CB. About 70 minutes he’ll bring on Pulisic, and Nagbe or Kljestan, whoever doesn’t start, and maybe a new defender like Acosta or Omar or Birnbaum, depending on who starts.


    • bottlcaps

      You are right about Pulisic, if JK were to start him and give him any significant minutes, he will not start for BVB and maybe not even make the gameday roster. They will limit his stress levels where his USMNT training, playing and travel time (especially his trans-Atlantic travel) all add up to limit his playing time at BVB. This is more important, while he is still only 17 (at least for a week or two) than if he were older.

      As far as the backline; everybody wondered why Guatemala brought in a 22 yo. Los Dos player, Jefrey Payeras, who had no Div 1 games and had played in only one previous national team match. to such a crucial WCQ match. Simple. Peyseras is 6’3″ and 185 and Kenwyne Jone id 6’2″ and about 188 lbs. It kept the Big K Jones in check with another big body. But Guatemala had no response to Joevin Jones speed as he got around and behind the defense to score a brace to counter El Pecadito’s Brace.

      JK will need to address T&T’s speed, especially since Yedlin is out, and put Gonzales on K Jones. The US fullbacks mat not be thrown into the attack like JK likes to do when he has Yedlin and Zardes, but without the speed of those two players to get back on D, the fullbacks may need to stay back more to defend, leaving the US offense less capable.


      • Beto

        Good insight here. Any combination of Cameron, Birnbaum and Gonzalez are completely capable of marking K.Jones. speed is lacking in the backline for this reason dropping FJ to fullback makes sense. The other fullback is either Orozco at RB, Acosta at LB or Cameron at RB. I am not a huge fan of any these options

        The midfield is more interesting. And I think Gary Page has it right with Pulisic and Nagbe continuing their super sub roles for now. The last sub with be Rubin or Arriola


  • Brain Guy

    After the great games that Pulisic and Kljestan had, JK will surely sit them and play Bradley in an advanced position in front of Beckerman.


  • i scored three goals in a game once

    Would like to see Rubin get some mins. JK did start him against Colombia, I know it was a friendly but still shows trust in a young player.


Add your comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More from SBI Soccer