Top Stories

Who should the USA start vs. Trinidad & Tobago?

Jose Francisco Torres 1 ( 

                                                                                  Photo by

You can say it. The U.S. national team's performance on Saturday in a 2-2 tie vs. El Salvador was disappointing, at times terrible, and hardly confidence-inducing. The great two-goal comeback was inspiring, and it showed great heart, but it's safe to say that any more performances like the one on Saturday and the Hexagonal will suddenly become more difficult for the United States than most people could have imagined.

The best part about Saturday is that it's just four days before the next qualifier, on Wednesday vs. Trinidad & Tobago in Nashville. That's a quick turnaround time which should hopefully help the U.S. team try and forget Saturday's terrible display and look toward playing better at home.

The biggest question now is just what will Bob Bradley do to his lineup in the wake of Saturday's draw. Tim Howard and Oguchi Onyewu are expected back in the lineup, which should provide a big boost, but Bradley has other decisions he must make.

So what lineup could we see on Wednesday night? Here is one possibility (along with a lineup I would love to see at this point):

Projected USA lineup






This lineup makes plenty of sense because A) Sacha Kljestan just hasn't looked good in recent games and was terrible vs. El Salvador, and B) Jose Francisco Torres was very impressive in his second-half performance on Saturday.

Jonathan Spector should get a chance at left back because the way heath Pearce is looking these days T&T's Carlos Edwards could have a field day against him.

So what's the lineup I would like to see on Wednesday? It is a bit of a departure from what the U.S. team normally does, and I acknowledge that it has little to no chance of happening, but here goes:






With Dempsey seeing time on the left flank for Fulham, using him there for the US team wouldn't be a stretch at all and it would allow Donovan to attack from the right wing, where he could go at defenders as well as provide some service.

The other option is to use Donovan on the left. Yes, I am aware that Landon Donovan isn't left footed and not really someone who has been used on the left flank, but considering the non-existent service the U.S. team has been getting on that flank anyway, it could serve the U.S. team well to let Donovan attack from that flank ala Thierry Henry, allowing him to take people on and cut inside where he can wreak havoc.

Beasley at left back has been something discussed on the past on SBI and it is worth a look right now because A) Beasley's attacking qualities are suffering miserably right now and B) Heath Pearce is just plain awful. Beasley has the speed to deal with Carlos Edwards and the different position look might just help Beasley get past Saturday's poor showing.

Jozy Altidore has made things happen when he gets into the game, and while I will acknowledge that he didn't exactly play great the last time he got the start (at Trinidad & Tobago coincidentally enough), he did set up the U.S. team's loan goal in that game. With Ching holding the ball up and Altidore running off him, the U.S. team just might find its best forward combination.

What lineup would you like to see Bob Bradley use vs. Trinidad & Tobago? What do you think of the above lineups?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I would much rather have Spector at left back against T&T. I am not opposed to trying Beasly at LB, but save it for a friendly.

  2. Can’t believe Bradley is bringing in Bornstein. It could only mean he plans to start him, otherwise why bother? Think about it, if he planned to start Spector, Beaz or Boca out left, he always has Pearce off the bench. With Bornstein being called in it can only mean him or Pearce is starting with the other one being first off the bench.

    Talk about going backwards.

  3. Klejstan, and Pearce need to have a seat. I would be happy with your projected USA lineup. If coach Bradley does not at least do that then he needs to go. As far as your proposed lineup, I like it overall, but I don’t like Beasely at left fullback. He got torched by El Salvador for the cross that lead to the 2nd goal when he was playing left back. He is not a defender and he is small. I would prefer to see Spector.

  4. I don’t know why DMB is so sacred. Your lineup I would like to see is good, except I would put Spector as left back and DMB on the bench.

    He doesn’t deserve to start now and maybe in the future too.

  5. Ives,

    Aren’t you being a little dramatic. You do know that half the teams in the HEX qualify for WC ’10 and we are in first place.

    I think we would have to play alot crappier than last Saturday to miss out.

    Who cares about the lineups. BB isn’t listning to us anyway.

  6. USMNT supporters who still don’t understand what Ching brings to this particular team either are letting their personal bias against Ching get in the way or have a puerile understanding of attacking tactics.

    Shredding a defense with jaw-dropping dribbling definitely takes talent, but applying the vision and the movement (on-ball and particularly off-ball) necessary for holding play and the subsequent passing combos is, in many ways, more complex due to the multi-player coordination required. Because this is not an individual feat, some may trivialize the contributions of each involved player; and the dynamic complexity may be too esoteric for some to appreciate.

    We will one day have a forward who shreds his way through defenses in jaw-dropping fashion, accumulating obscene amounts of individual accolades and personal recognition along the way. Until then, take time to appreciate the subtler side of soccer found in Ching-Hejduk-Altidore-goal.

  7. ——Altidore———-Ching——

    I like the idea of Altidore and Ching playing off each other. Beasley just isn’t getting the playing time to start, and I worry about his size in the back. Torres really impressed me versus El Salvadore as well as Hejduk. Like Beasley I worry about Hejduk’s size, but his performance the past couple of games should be good enough to warrant a start ahead of Cherundolo. I think this gives the United States a balance attack and defense.

  8. ———–Donovan———-Altidore—————-





    Is time to show some good Skill and technical game Bradley, Stop with the regime of telling them not to come out the routine or Skin of your style of futball. And yes it is fine to do what you had been practicing but them again let them be creative and let them play their own style of futball. Let then run free be more aggrassive, control the ball and used the one step pass when they are double team. Bob is time to show some world class futball and not the American Way. Please Bring Wilder Cabrerra (US U17 Coach)to coach the USNMT we need that Latin Flavor.

  9. Bob Bradley will start Heath Pearce at left back on Wednesday. And that will be the sign, for all you Bradley defenders out there, that his personnel decisions are based on long since past performances. I hope I’m wrong. I really do, because Pearce was lost. Not as lost as Danny Califf who looked like he was running with a limp he was so slow, but lost nonetheless.

  10. If the US really wants to put that horrible performance behind them then why not all out attack just for the hell of it. Let forget the terrible defensive effort by playing our most attacking team as possible. Everybody likes Christma, here we go:


    Adu Donovan

    Torres Bradley Dempsey

    Spector Boca Gooch Hejduk


  11. I’m seeing too many crazy line ups and not enough common sense.
    If Bob Bradley has any brains in his head he’ll start Torres over Sacha, and pair ching with Altidore up top.

  12. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ives’ lineup. People talk plenty about Brian Ching’s work that doesn’t translate to goals (and I agree with most of these assessments), but I think it’s been proven that he’s much more effective with another forward. Donovan is supposedly providing this role, but I think we can all agree that it’s just not the same.

    Good picks. It probably won’t happen, but I’m going to keep my fingers crossed…

  13. I’m keen on tinkering with the back four, but I cannot make informed comments because I have not seen Spector play center back and I have not seen parkhurst or demeritt play at all.
    It sounds like a good move to have Spector at center back and bocanegra at left back, but I’m not so sure how well that would work out. Boca and Onyewu have been paired for years and surely have some serious chemistry. To tear that apart and all that work they have put in together is not something to be taken lightly. If Spector can jump right in without missing a beat, then go for it, but I’m not sure it is as easy as that sounds.

  14. Torres played well and turned the tide for us by linking the defense with the attacking third by distributing ground passes. Before he came on, we didn’t look like a dominating side and were getting desperate by launching balls over the top. We shouldn’t have to play like this because we do have players who can handle the ball. So JFT steps in, and intelligently distributes (see things down happening down the line) rather than just passing mindlessly to an open guy.

  15. —-Altidore—–Ching——Donovan



  16. Adu is a bit like Blanco for the Fire now. You’ll need a guy to provide him cover. Dempsey has made great strides this past EPL season on his defensive game. Donovan makes the effort to track down guys and wait for support. Ching and Beasley play very good defense for their positions. Adu needs to improve this side of his game if he wants to start in meaningful games.

    I wish Adu was more enthusiastic to play in Beasley’s position, but he only seems to want Donovan’s position or akin to it. Early in his career Beasley played on the right to get on the field, and Dempsey was deep in the midfield. A more well-rounded Adu would result in more playing time on a team like the US.

  17. ——-altidore—donovan———




    Why put out anyone but your best players?
    They may play a little out of position, but make sure they are on the field. That is why boca on the left ’cause he is more versatile than spector. Altidore has played well when in games so he deserves the start, and same for torres. Also, Bradley has been a goal machine, and intense, so he must be in the attack. Adu is enough of an X-factor to play over DMB considering Beasley’s poor form, and it would be nice to see Edu at defensive mid, but seems like there just isn’t the room in the lineup.

    While there are question marks, it is nice there there is talent enough to be having the debates about who should see playing time (as well as healthy competition for the roles).

    Finally, playing in Tennessee will be heaven sent after that hostile cage-match in El Salvador.

  18. For those of you fans who worship the ground Torres walks on, I disagree, or at leats am not convinced yet. Adu, who has convinced on occassion, should be on the starting elf (11), and I am all for Spector lining up in the back over Pearce.

  19. Like most people I would like to see Donovan brought back into the midfield. No use having him play striker if we can’t get him the ball. When we get in trouble I want the ball at the feet of our best player as much as possible. Donovan needs to take over for Klejstan.

  20. ——–Altidore—–Ching——–




  21. From Patrick: “Beasley at left back? You guys have to be joking. The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Lewis, Convey, Beasely…”

    Thank you! Get over Beasley as a left back. He’s too small to cover the guys who would be from Europe playing in the World Cup. Yes, we are qualifying against different teams, but Spector can handle regional and European teams. Anyone notice how Spector has the ability to be positioned across a back four by his different clubs, but you don’t see Beasley making clubs as a left back? If he could play it, you’d think the clubs would try him there. I can’t imagine his past and present clubs have always been stocked with guys at that position. I could see Beasley at LB in MLS.

    The benefit of a Spector is the ability to play these different positions, as well as to play good defense in the air–something the US lacks from LB options and many of the RB options.

  22. I think donovan needs to be in the midfield. I like him more in the center of the park so he can stay involved. He can pull is disappearing acts when he is on the flank or sometimes the game wont come to him. IN the middle he is forced to be involved.

    I have thought about going to a 3 back system and we simply dont have the backs to do it currently in our pool. As some have pointed out Boca didnt play that well but I am going to attribute that to Califf and how miserable he played. It is hard for a CB to show as good when he is surrounded by Pearce and Califf, Boca simply had too much ground to cover.

    I dont think Hedjuk is our answer for 2010 but at this point it is his spot to lose in my eyes. Yes, he really didnt do much for 85% of the game but no one did. He seems to step up when we need him too.

    Yes, beasley got beat for the serve but that happens to every back, hedjuk or Guzan need to make that play. Really hedjuk should have won that header. You also cant judge beasley’s performance at LB from that game as it was a different situation and he was asked to get forward a lot more than play defense given the game situation.

    I like this lineup or somethnig of the sort. Torress was just very composed on the ball and i think he brings a different type of style to our team.





  23. Beasley sucks. The guy is only good for speed and open spaces. If there is no space, he cannot dribble. If he tries to make a short pass, it is usually errant or has bad weight behind it. His inability to have a good touch prevents him from being able to perfectly weigh a ball for a passing game.
    I watched the game again for analyzing certain players and it was evident he didn’t
    belong out there on Sat. night.

  24. How many times do we have to see Donovan not getting service before he is moved more into the midfield. Would love to see that experimental lineup w/ DMB at left back and Donovan on the right wing. Dempsey on the left wing allows him to attack diagonally using his strong foot. Don’t think having DMB at left back really hurt the U.S. at all last game.

  25. ———-Altidore———







    I know there is no way Bob would start Adu. The reason I thought of this lineup was the fact that we used it against Italy in the WC Mastro in front of the defenders and behind the midfield.

  26. I cannot believe that anyone who follows the US would EVER again want to see a left midfielder playing at left back.

    Why not?

    Do you remember, only a couple of days ago, Beasley getting burned for the set-up of El Salvador’s 2nd goal?

    Not convinced?

    Do you remember our World Cup, in essence, being over in 2006 after only 8 minutes, because Eddie Lewis was 40 yards out of position leading to the Czech Republic’s 1st goal?

    There are only 2 reasonable left back alternatives: Spector or Bocanegra (with Califf, Demerit, or Spector in the middle).

  27. I’d love to see:







    Let’s run the offense through our best player (Donovan), let’s tell Beasley he has competition for the LM position, let’s have guys on the wings (Dempsey & Torres) who can actually provide service, and let’s have two guys up top (Ching & Altidore) who can do something with the service.

  28. What does Spector usually play for West Ham? I thought he played Center Back. I think putting him as left D doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me.

    Rather, I think Bocanegra may be a better bet as he plays left back for Rennes (please correct me if I’m wrong).

    Also, here’s the formation I’d like to see at some point (if we get up 2 goals OR if we are down goals)

    Altidore – Donovan
    Adu – Torres – Dempsey
    Beasley or Boca – Gooch – Boca or Spector – Heydude

    Obviously if Beasley is left D, then Boca is in the middle. If Boca is left D, then Spector is in the midle.

    Watching us lob balls into the box and hoping for good things isn’t a recipe for success. I think the way the first goal played out (Ching holding the ball, taking it wide to Heydude who then crosses it back into the box for Altidore) is more likely to produce goal-scoring opportunities. Now, it was a lob that got the ball to Ching in the first place, which means we need a better way to serve our forwards.

    This is long way of saying that we need Adu & Torres. I think a combo of Adu on the left wing (supported defensively by Beas & Boca) with Torres in the middle means that we have some good passers in the mid-field. I realize there are some Adu skeptics, but seeing how well we passed with Torres means that we need more passing.


  29. One of the things I’ve always found admirable about some of our veteran guys is that when they aren’t getting a lot of playing time, they still managed to put in good performances for the Nats. Beasley had a terrible game, but I’d give him another try since he’s earned that in my opinion. Pearce, however, has had a string of subpar performances, so I’d sit him for now. He had the talent as he showed last summer, but his form is just not there at the moment.

    Unlike others, I’m not ready to start Torres yet. He played a very good 20 minutes against a completely gassed team that kept everyone behind the ball. I’d like to see him make another substitute performance against T&T, and then get a start later in qualifying, preferrably against a team desperate for a result. He looks like he’ll be a useful player, so looking forward to seeing more of him in the future.

  30. ———–Ching———-Altidore—————-





    I don’t think Beasley deserves to be benched here. I say, give him 45 minutes at left back and if he sucks bring in Spector, switch donovan and dempsey if the left side is lacking. Anyone who knows anything about soccer understands the teamwork involved with the outside mid and fullback, they need to work together to attack and overlap.

    It’s all about overlapping, which is something we NEVER do. If you look at the best teams in the world, they all A) constantly move off the ball, and B) overlap. Those two combinations will lead to spreading the defense out and opening gaps to exploit.


  31. Sean M. from post #1, I like your idea.






    Someone get this over the Coach Bob.

  32. Ives,

    I like your “ideal” lineup to some degree, but don’t you think Beasely was a disaster at left back on Saturday? Theoretically you would think he would be perfect as a tenacious, fast, hard working winger with increasingly obvious issues contributing to the attack as a midfielder. But his instincts seemed way off to me.

  33. I don’t know how some cannot give Spector a start. He plays on the best team of any field player. He starts, and yet he can’t play for our team? Maybe he’s just too good.





  34. Aside from line-ups, Hejduk needs to be wearing the armband. Time and time again, this guys comes through in some shape, form, or fashion for the MNT. Granted, he has had poor performances in the past, but EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of the current pool has. Hejduk, more often than not, steps up when he needs to. The US looked uninspired on Saturday, and they need somebody to motivate them. I thinks that’s Frankie.

    That aside, I think Beasley needs to be left out of the starting line-up. He’s just not in form, and his give-away on Saturday directly led to the first Salvadorian goal.





    I know, I know, it won’t happen. But it’s what I’d like to see.

  35. I like Issac’s line up the best but several work. The most important things are to:

    – get Spector in at left back

    – find a place for Altidore up front with ching and let Donovan play in the center just behind them

    -No Sacha

  36. The only position Beasley should be starting at is left out. As in left out of the 18. He’s lost it. He tried so many AYSO-esque moves trying to beat defenders it was embarrassing. And it was his touch of a rapist that set off the counter that led to ES’s fist goal 75 yards from goal. How does a guy who gets no minutes in a crap league start for our National team?

  37. Ching Altidore

    Dempsey Torres Donovan

    Bradley Edu

    Spector Bocanegra Heijduk


    Let Onyewu rest another gaem, let Beasley watch and learn,. Why not go with a 3-man back line and Bradley and Edu covering. Then we can concentrate on attacking. If we didn’t have such strong d-midfielders, I wouldn’t want this. But we do. Both Bradley and Edu are great at linking the back with the front. This is somehting that should be considered.

  38. I’m not sure how much tougher a side T&T are than El Salvador but the fact is we are at home and should impose our will FROM THE BEGINNING. If I see the US playing their little ‘pass back’ defensive, apprehensive style like they did on Sat., I’ll turn that rubbish off. Most my fellow UNAT posters have gotten it just about right–if we are the dominant force in CONCACAF we really need to demonstrate it emphatically when possible. I mean, guys like Jose Mourinho are commenting on our NAT team and complementing certain aspects of our game before we go out and drop points to an inferior squad. Road matches or not, we need to establish some sort of identity because up till now, we haven’t exactly found our own style. We can’t change the CONCACAF or the flop style of our Southern neighbors, so we need to be as impressive as we can whenever possible.
    We can win with a lot of variances to the lineup so I’m not going to put anything different although there are two things that I would like to see from here on out:
    1. Howard always in goal…always, always.
    2. Some form of a 4-4-2. It’ll give Ching someone to work with up top and avoid another meltdown in the middle when 2 or more Midfielders are having an off night.

  39. I actually care less about the line-up than I do about how they’re told to play. This is the first time when I’ve seriously questioned Bradley as the coach. You can’t really question a coach when a player makes a bad decision, or has a bad game, but the whole team looked clueless and scared to go forward when in posession, which makes one have to wonder how they were prepared for the match, what they were instructed to do.

    As for players, if it’s going to be Donovan and another more forward player up top, I would like to see Altidore. Ching has never consistently impressed me for any period of time, and he’s not that deadly a scorer, as he showed when he had a chance to win it, and all he could do was hit the ball straght at the keeper’s chest. As for other changes, I can’t see anyone doing worse than Kljestan did, so it’s almost immaterial if it’s Torres or whomever, it will be an improvement.

  40. ————–Ching

    ————- Dono

    Altidore ——– ———- Dempsey


    Spector—-Boca—– Gooch ——Hedjuk


    I like this because Ching can hold the ball for an on rushing Dono,Altidore, Dempsey, or Bradley.And Spector and Torres need to be given a shot,Kljestan and Pierce have certainly not nailed down the position.

  41. Beasley at left back? You guys have to be joking. The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Lewis, Convey, Beasely…

  42. Ryan, if we are to have a shot at anything meaningful at WC10, that is the lineup we MUST have on the field-though I think maybe Parkhurst for Edu in central defense if he develops enough beforehand-he’s got the positional sense and ability on the ball to match Gooch’s physicality-same could be said for Edu I suppose, I just prefer Parkurst personally.

    Spot on brohem.

    And no credit is due to El Salvador-that second half was one of the most disgraceful showings I’ve ever seen-really should have been 10+ minutes of stoppage time.

  43. I like Ives’ 4-1-3-2 lineup a lot. If they don’t go with that, here’s what I would consider trotting out:






    I wasn’t initially hot on going with Mastroeni, I think if Beasley is going to be playing left wing back, then it might not hurt to have destroyer-type defensive mid playing along side Bradley.

    Dempsey is slotted at left wing, but given how well Donovan and Beasley play together, I would have Donovan and Dempsey switch sides periodically.

    I’m very confident in Torres controlling the attack in the midfield after seeing his play on Saturday.


Leave a Comment