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Who should the USMNT start vs. Sweden?

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The first U.S. men's national team match of the year is finally set to kick off this Saturday (8:30pm, FSC/Galavision) and while most of the national team's top players won't be there to face Sweden, the match should still give us a chance to see some of the top young U.S. prospects.

Unfortunately for U.S. fans, standout defenders Chad Marshall and Sean Franklin will have to wait to impress Bob Bradley as injuries ruled them both out. The rash of injuries to defenders forced U.S. coach Bob Bradley to call in Michael Parkhurst from Denmark, so he should probably be penciled in as a starter.

That still leaves plenty of intriguing young attacking players who could have a chance to shine on Saturday, including Charlie Davies, Kenny Cooper, Robbie Rogers and Stuart Holden to name a few.

Trying to figure out which combination of attacking players Bradley will settle on for Saturday's match won't be easy, but should still be interesting. Here is the starting lineup we could see against Sweden on Saturday:

USA Projected Starting XI vs. Sweden






BENCH– Busch, Hesmer, Ihemelu, Wingert, Thorrington, Carroll, Jewsbury, Gaven, Rolfe, Cooper

Kenny Cooper is the player most folks would probably point out as missing but I just don't see a Ching-Cooper pairing and Davies just came off a strong campaign in Sweden so he's a safe bet to start if health. Could Bradley go with the young tandem of Cooper and Davies? I can't see him leaving Ching on the bench because that would likely leave a pretty inexperienced attack

The midfield could also be a few different combinations, though I think the above foursome is the most likely. Holden and Kljestan could swap positions, but I think this is the most likely four.

As far as the back-line goes it wouldn't shock me if John Thorrington got the nod at right back. Chris Wingert is coming off a good MLS season as well so it will be interesting to see if he gets a chance t play.

Will Sacha Kljestan and Troy Perkins really get the starts considering they will both be flying in from halfway around the world? I think it's safe to say both will unless they picked up knocks along the way.

Now it's your turn, which starting XI would you use against Sweden?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. ———-Cooper—–Rolfe——–





    Davies and Kljestan are the first two off the bench in the second half. I know we won’t see this though. They really should’ve called up Justin Mapp for this fixture as well.

  2. I agree jmac, but personally, the sooner the system evolves to a post Ching-stable formation, the better. But I wouldn’t risk Qualifying to figure it out.

    BTW, I wasn’t quite born yet when Fast Times came out. Thought I’d kick it old school. Ya’ll seemed to understand it just fine. 😉 Don’t rag on me bro!

  3. The one thing i dont think we’ll be lacking is in technical ability. Our entire midfield plays for teams who rely on technically sound players. My darkhorse to score on Saturday would most likely be Holden. Hell why not? we’ve had 45 other players who have scored on their international debut’s , one of which was against this team.

  4. I agree with some of the Chicago faithful that it would be nice to see Rolfe get some quality minutes. He has seemed to have fallen out of favor over the last two years.

    I also am excited about Holden. I think out of all the guys we, SBI Mafia, rave about that we do not recognize his talent enough. Special player who I would almost rather have start in the middle over Kljestan because of how frustrated I get when he makes an amazing run or pass and then five minutes later duffs a 10 yard pass to the defender.

  5. I’d tend to discount experience in a friendly such as this one. Go with the most promising future pairing up top so they can *get* experience.

  6. I would love to see Cooper and Davies start, but I don’t get all the Ching hate. Ching has been pretty solid for us over the last few years, and is still the best choice when we need a true target forward. That being said, I think we know what Ching brings to the table and we need to see more of Cooper and Davies. Both have shone great potential, let’s see what they can do against a European team. I really hope to see Ives’ midfield start – Holden was a stud in the olympics…

  7. If find it interesting all of the Brian Ching hate.

    His four goals in 2008 tied Dempsey for the team lead, and nine points overall exceeded only by Donovan’s 11.

    Brian is still the best (most dependable) target forward we have. He’ll get the start vs. Sweden.

    The more interesting questions are who starts with him (Cooper, Davies, Rolfe) and who starts at RM (Holden, Kljestan, Gaven, Rolfe, Davies). Much as I’d like to see Holden, I prefer him inside, but I still think he gets the start, as everyone but Gaven would also be a bit out of position.

    GK is the other interesting spot, I’d go with Hesmer or Perkins.


    Hesmer for Perkins
    Cooper for Ching
    Rolfe for Kljestan (Holden inside, Davies to RM).
    Thorrington for Wynne
    Carroll for Clark
    Ihemelu for Parkhurst

  8. I wonder if Holden and Rogers would switch.

    Playing Holden on his left foot would allow him the ability to create more technically when he cuts inside. He’ll also be more dangerous on the dribble. Rogers is ambidextrous so it doesn’t matter which wing he plays on. Davies should do fine seeing as how he’s done a good job with Hammarby of taking advantage of good service. The problem is just that though. Rogers and Holden had Brian McBride, one of the best headers of the ball around the world, as a target striker and they didnt take advantage of HIM. He was practically a giant bullseye sitting in the box. Can anyone take a geuss as to whose going to score? Cause i find it hard thinking of one without some one drawing a PK again.

  9. Ching will and should start. He needs the work to prep for Mexico with the assumption he is the incumbent starter. Sub Cooper in for Ching at the half to let him work his magic with Davies.

  10. What I just don’t understand that if Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore are just rotting the pine for their Euro Clubs, why couldn’t they have been called in for this.

    Maybe leave Altidore due to depth at striker (Cooper), but Adu’s creativity could have been nice to see in this one…

  11. —-Cooper—Davies—-

    personally i think we know what Clark has to offer…. since this is a meaningless friendly i say we go on the attack….

    Thor and Wynne on the right offers a dangerous and over-active right side…

    Holden into the middle, since that’s where he’ll be most likely playing for Hou… he’d do fine out wide, but i think he and kljestan could offer alot in the middle….

    Ching will get WCQ’er minutes, dont take away Cooper’s chance to shine…

  12. Casey, I think Cubillas was pointing out things that Ching does better than Cooper. Fact is that in the national team set up, particularly for big games like Mexico in February, Ching is a more appropriate choice.

  13. Cooper/Davies. Since it’s only a friendly, let’s see this attacking combination.

    Any word as to why Drew Moor didn’t receive a call up?

  14. Ives –

    For the future do you think wednesdays could be RAG ON Ching day

    Followed by Thursday to be RAG ON Landon day?

  15. Above all i’m looking forward to seeing the forwards and CB’s play.

    While it would be great to give all the kids up front some time and not Ching, the game against Mexico is coming up fast and he needs to see some minutes before.

    I like the kids but don’t have confidence in them for opposition like Mexico.

    Oh and thanks ives for that link for the draft speech, heard about that day but couldnt find it.

  16. Altidore needs more matches to stay fresh but he has potential.

    Davies is coming along. He has the skill and eye for the goal. But probably best as super-sub.

    Cooper needs more time, but will be brillant i’m sure.

    Donovan has the experience and with his playing at BM; we will be all set to having an effective offensive front.

  17. is “rag on” still a recognizable phrase here in post-fast-times-at-ridgemont-high-america?

    I am still waiting for Wynne to blow up. I still think he could.

  18. John just beat me to it, but he’s absolutely right. Any MLS player that has a potential to be used against Mexico needs to get a game. ANd that includes Ching.

  19. ————Cooper————-


  20. I love people who still rag on Cooper. That whole 2 goals in 3 games is proof he is inferior to Ching.

    I’m not trying to say he is, but trying to rag on Cooper’s game is pretty weak. Every young player has their issues with the game. Hint, Ching has his issues too.

  21. Some spots are more important than others. In order of importance:

    1. LB – Pearce has not quite locked down his spot, so a strong performance from JB could give us much more confidence heading into the Hex.

    2. F – LD is clearly #1, and though we all have a collective crush on Jozy for #2, there is still an open competition for depth given Jozy’s lack of PT. A good show from Davies or Cooper could establish which of them sits highe ron the depth chart for the Hex. Likewise, a good outing from Ching will show BB (and SBI mafia) that he still has something left.

    3. LM – DMB’s mysterious status at Rangers raises the awful fact that if his form falls off we don’t have anyone ready to excel on the left. Rogers has had solid hype for a while and looked dangerous at the MLS level. A good match from him could get him the inside track to be the back-up plan at LM.

    4. RM – Clint has been playing at a high level, so it seems unlikely that he’d lose the starting spot. Though less urgent than the LM spot, there’s no clear #2 here. If Holden stand out, he gets himself a shot at winning a place on Hex rosters.

    5. CM – Assuming the plan will remain MB + someone, it would be nice to know who is the first choice partner. Sacha sort of has the spot now, but he could firm up his hold (and possibly seal his transfer) with a strong game in the middle.

    6. RB – Not likely that anyone will beat out Dolo, but there’s a whole bunch of names in the mix as a possible #2, including a players not here now (Hejduk, Simek, Spector). If one of the camp guys (Wynne, Wingert, Thor, Franklin before injury)looks good he can possibly be Plan B at RB.

    Less important:

    DM: MB will not lose the spot. Already a line of back-ups in Edu, Szetela, Mastro, Clark, Carroll, etc.

    CB: Gooch and Boca through 2010 barring injury. All the back-ups seem to be at roughly the same level (Goodson, Demerit, Califf, Parkhurst, Marshall, etc.)

    GK: Howard for all meaningful matches. Guzan if necessary. No rush to figur eout who is Plan C among Perkins, Hahnemann, others.

  22. Call me biased, but I wanna see Ugo get some playing time. He is underrated at best and played most of this past season fighting a hip injury.

  23. To me that formation looks like it’s begging to be made into a 4-3-3 or the Christmas tree.


  24. You anti-Ching people are dumb as rocks. He’s an inferior Kenny Cooper? Please. Let’s see. Ching holds the ball up better, passes better, tracks back and defends better and is more dangerous on set pieces. As big as Cooper is, he’s not a true target striker. He still has a lot to learn about the game. Start Ching and Davies and you can bet they’ll play better as a tandem than Cooper and Davies.

  25. I wish there was someone else besides ching, but there really isn’t. Kenny Cooper is a ballhog, and will not make the appropriate passes to Davies, who really needs to be the primary threat up front… I really want to see Gavin, Rolfe and Thorrington get some significant minutes as well

  26. Our striker pool for qualifying is Donovan, Altidore, Cooper, Davies, Ching, EJ

    Donovan – fighting for a place in BM during his loan time. Will be fit i’m sure.

    Altidore – Quality mins as a starter and then sub but has missed last few games with injury.

    Cooper – Off season so probably rusty

    Davies – Same as Cooper

    Ching – Off season. Too old. Last chance to probably play a game with the national team.

    EJ- had the potential but failed

  27. No one should expect a great line up this time of year. Our best players are better off staying with their clubs until the call up for the Mexico camp. Plus they could not even be released for this match until 3 days prior, I believe, because it is only a friendly.

    This game is not about setting a WCQ line up. It is about identifying one or two players that can contribute in the future, probably as subs. It also allows the young MLS players that are regular contributors to get back some level of match sharpness.

    I think Ching is here simply because of an overall lack of depth at striker. Notice Pablo is not in camp. I think he is a lock call in for the Mexico game, but not needed at this camp because of MF depth.

    Historically, Norway and Sweden, who ever the opponent is for this traditional January game, brings a group of domestic players. We normally run out a similar type of line up, and generally have faired pretty well in this match.

  28. Sweden is bringing a C team. Just players from Sweden and other clubs in Norway/Denmark. They will me more defensive minded whereas i see Cooper/Ching in a hugely attacking form.

    Boring, scratching but 1-0 win for us with Ching grabbing the winner.

  29. Wes/Chris – It’s too late to “move on” from Ching as far as this match is concerned. He’s been in camp all month. BB is not going to have a veteran like Ching work all month just to ride pine. He’ll get at least 45 min.

    Joe – Thor is probably at his best in the middle, but BB didn’t bring him in for that. I think he is looking at guys like Thor (and Jewsbury) as utility players that could fill in where we don’t have established depth, i.e. right back and right mid in Thor’s case. We already have enough depth in the middle with MB, Sacha, Mastro, Edu, Szetela, Clark, Torres, etc.

  30. I respect the work he’s put in with the Nats, but in my opinion Ching is an older, inferior version of Kenny Cooper. The only thing he has on Cooper is that Ching’s better in the air.

    It’s just a friendly, so I’m hoping for Cooper and Davies up top.

  31. I have watched all of Thorrington’s matches this year and Joe must’ve been watching someone else.

    His tackling is good. I’ve never seen him lose his cool during the run of play (when action stops, he may show his emotions), and this is the James Brown of the team, i.e. the hardest working man. He can get up and down no problem.

    That said, his ideal role is in midfield but has shown excellent ability in back.

    And let me join the chorus: No more Ching! Let’s see Rolfe.

  32. Good lord, this isn’t even our B team. It’s more like a C team.

    Does anyone know what kind of squad Sweden is bringing? If it’s anywhere near an A team, I’ll be happy with a 3-1 result.

    In any case, I’ll be very interested to see the kids play, particularly, Holden, Cooper, Wynne, and Rogers. Love that Holden kid.

  33. Ching was decent in 08 against tiny fish like Cuba and Barbados, but his time is up.

    Our strikers are Altidore, Donovan, Cooper and Davies. Those are who we need for qualifying and for the World Cup.

  34. I like the formation just as you have it.. I would love to see a Cooper/Davies partnership up front but I’m sure Ching will get the nod.

    I hope Marvell gets the start & plays the entire 90, no reason why he shouldn’t as he is the RB of USMNT future, lets see what he can do.

  35. Please don’t make me look at Brian Ching. He has already shown that he can score in the MLS and against poor international competition. It is time to move on. Play the young guys, it is a friendly.

  36. I actually think you are right on here Ives, though I think you are right that Holden and Kljestan will likely switch, perhaps during the run of play.

    I would like to see Hesmer get some time, but I guess you don’t bring in Perkins from so far away unless you are going to play him.

    I like some of our young guys, such as Rogers and Davies, but this isn’t really a great lineup.

  37. Why does everyone see Thorrington at right back? I watched him every game this season and his tackling leaves alot to be desired. He lunges way to much and doesnt have the speed to get up and down like a wing back. He loses his cool and when he gets beat he likes to take out ankles. I see him more as a center midfielder that can win some tackles and can keep the ball and pass and move. If he gets beat in the middle of the park he has help in behind. I would like to see Rolfe get the nod instead of Ching. We know what Ching brings to the table but we havent seen what Rolfe can bring at the international level. But this is also coming from a Chicago guy.

  38. Ives, why wouldn’t you think a Cooper Davies pairing would be possible to start. Considering that Bradley has started Altidore and Cooper and began Ching on the bench in the past, I don’t think it’s out of the question that Davies and Cooper could start.


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