U.S. Men's National Team

Who should the USMNT start vs. New Zealand?


With a slew of new faces in camp, the U.S. Men’s National Team has some interesting lineup options ahead of Tuesday’s clash with New Zealand.

Fresh off a less-than-inspiring 2-0 win over Cuba, the U.S. returns to RFK Stadium on Tuesday for a clash with New Zealand. Ahead of the match, seven new players have joined USMNT camp, while nine have departed following the Cuba match.

Among the new faces are a pair of interesting forward options in Juan Agudelo and Terrence Boyd, as well as young defensive options in Kellyn Acosta and Tim Parker. Meanwhile, veterans like Matt Besler and Michael Orozco give head coach Jurgen Klinsmann some choices to make in defense following the departure of a majority of the team’s starting core.

Here’s a look at a potential USMNT lineup for Tuesday’s match.


Here are some thoughts on the lineup:

Following the USMNT’s win over Cuba, the squad has received a massive overhaul, as seven new faces have replaced the nine that have returned to their club teams. Several big-name players remain, though, and they’re likely to feature prominently on Tuesday night.

If Jurgen Klinsmann wasn’t expecting to fully utilize starters Jozy Altidore, DeAndre Yedlin and Michael Bradley, they would have gone home. Toronto FC remains in a playoff chase and take on the Montreal Impact over the weekend in a crucial clash. Newcastle is certainly better equipped to handle Yedlin’s absence, but the fullback would have been with the wave of European departures if Klinsmann had no plans for him.

Yedlin’s performance against Cuba was a bit up and down, making Tuesday’s match a valuable one for the defender/winger. Firmly implanted as the USMNT’s top right back, Yedlin still needs to show a bit better than he did on Friday. With players like Michael Orozco and Steve Birnbaum on the roster, Klinsmann has options for the right back position, but expect Yedlin to play at least a half on Tuesday.

On the other side of the defense, Kellyn Acosta comes in as a natural left back option. The FC Dallas midfielder looked solid at the position during September qualifiers, but still obviously has some fine-tuning to do as he continues to swap roles with the national team. Acosta is certainly a capable left back, and is likely looking to lock down a spot as Fabian Johnson’s backup heading into qualifying.

The middle of the defense is a bit less clear cut. Hometown favorite Steve Birnbaum remains a candidate to start at RFK Stadium, although a head injury suffered against Cuba could keep him out. Veterans Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez remain in the fold, and the two may be competing for one centerback spot heading into World Cup qualifying. Tim Parker is also in the mix after shining for the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team during Olympic qualifying, but is almost certainly a bench option.

Like Yedlin, Bradley and Sacha Kljestan are likely to crack the lineup as two of the few holdovers from the starting XI against Cuba. The two were quiet during Friday’s match, making Tuesday a vital match for developing a bit more chemistry moving forward.

On the wing is Julian Green, who was one of the best players on the field in the last match. While his decision-making wasn’t always flawless, Green was certainly the USMNT’s most active attacker, more than justifying another chance to shine. Green remains in the mix for a more consistent role, but he needs to take major steps with the national team due to his lack of club action. On the other side is Paul Arriola, who is another player looking to step up to a bigger role. Arriola, like Green, has taken advantage of his most recent opportunities and is deserving of heavy minutes on Tuesday.

Altidore should be penciled in for another start after remaining with the squad, but the question remains on who will partner him. Klinsmann could opt for a one-striker set, but given the team’s recent performances in a 4-4-2, he likely won’t want to shake things up too much. Green remains an option, depending on if Klinsmann sees him as a potential central player like Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti does. Terrence Boyd is back in the fold after years of injury issues, but the forward is lacking game fitness and is a bit too similar to Altidore, which could complicate the attacking flow.

That leaves Juan Agudelo, a player that has played his way back onto the scene with a series of strong performances on the club level. The idea of Agudelo buzzing around Altidore is an exciting one, as the two forwards have the potential to form an interesting partnershi.

Finally, there’s the goalkeeper position. While Bill Hamid is the sentimental choice, the D.C. United goalkeeper hasn’t been in camp, and starting him would be a bit of a blow to the two goalkeepers that have been battling throughout the international break. That leaves David Bingham and William Yarbrough to battle it out for the third-string spot going forward.

  • johnnyrazor

    I think it will be the lineup above, here’s an alternative


    Gooch for Kitchen, Williams for Kljestan (change to 4-1-4-1), Boyd for Altidore, Agudelo for Green, Birnbaum for Gonzo (could see Birnie start if his injury is really ok), keeper B for keeper A (these three kind of just seem like personal choice to me)

    For what its worth US Soccer posted on twitter a picture of the following yesterday with the title “Today’s winning squad” Altidore-Green-Kljestan-Bradley-Gooch-Yedlin-Parker-Orozco-Birnbaum-Yarbrough (yes, I realize its only 10)


    • Two Cents

      JK may go to a more defensive posture, as in your lineup, but I don’t think we need to against New Zealand, so I think we go with just one DM in front of the back 4.


      GK doesn’t matter all that much to me. I think Horvath is the best among the guys not named Guzan or Howard, but I see Bingham getting a shot this game.

      For subs, I’d like to see Klestjan subbed out and move Gooch to the middle. In his place, put Green and bring in Agudelo up top. For clarity, Agudelo for Klestjan, just some moving around for the rest still on the field. Kitchen/Williams for Bradley. You can also take off Green/Arriola and run a 2 DM system, but only one in front of the back 4 (Kitchen) and one further up the field as more of a playmaker (Williams).


      • Dennis

        I would put Green in place of Agudelo, other than that it looks like what I prefer.

        JK, of course might have other ideas, but I think he will start Bradley, Jozy, Kljestan and Yedlin. Acosta and Besler are the only guys I can see playing on the left in the back, Gonzalez will likely get a full game so I think JK made up his mind when he sent some players home and called others in. I surmise that all the field players who were on the squad in Cuba will get significant minutes vs New Zealand.


  • Fast Right Leg

    Agudelo out, Boyd in. Gooch in for one of the midfielders. Swap Green and Arriola.


    • johnnyrazor

      Given Boyd has only played a few lower division matches since 2014 I think it will be Agudelo, or he’ll use Green as a striker with Gooch on the wing. Yes, Green is usually on the left and Arriola on the right.


  • Benjamin C.



  • bizzy






    If we are losing control of the game bring in Altidore and Bradley (maybe even Kitchens)

    Altidore and Bradley have been thoroughly tested so lets see the level of others and how they streamline with the team. New Zealand is not a powerhouse but they are good enough to get a good evaluation of Boyd, Williams, Gooch and Arriola (10/08/16 – Mexico 2 v New Zealand 1).


  • Lost in Space

    What I’d like to see……


    Subs: Kitchen for Bradley, Williams for Kljestan, Boyd for Jozy, Green for Agudelo,
    Birnbaum for Gonzalez, Hamid for Bingham

    This would provide a cohesive starting XI while also testing the players we need to evaluate.


  • Scweeb

    So this is all in prep for Mexico and there are hug questions that need to be answered. One is if Kljestan is now a starter or considered for start how do you line him up with Bradley and Jones (or replacement)? Do you go a 4-3-3 with say Jones Bradley Kljestan? And does that give you enough solid D for Mexico and also enough counter attack?
    One thing I would like JK to try but I doubt he would and I don’t think NZ is the type of opponent who would really give you a challenge but I would like a 4-2-3-1 and give both Williams and Kitchen a change in the center. The reason being is Mexico has the better offense then us at the moment. So we need a think a solid block of two in the center with both Fabian and Yedlin on the outside of the block with speed should give us a good foundation.
    The three I would put up top and what I would test against NZ is Kljestan in the center as 10 Gooch on one side and Green on the other with Agudelo up top for a speed and quick attack.
    This I would change against Mexico to Kljestan as 10 with both Pulusic and Gooch on the outside and Wood up top. I think that would be a solid quick and very creative attack up top to help release pressure against Mexico


  • Beto

    real question is what is in those Cuban gift bags? and did they get across customs? .. maybe that’s why all of the European based players went home before returning to the States.


    • johnnyrazor

      Don’t forget Horvath got wins at Fenerbache and Celtic and a draw in the Amsterdam ArenA against Ajax to win his Europa League group.


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