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Who should start for the USA vs. Brazil?

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U.S. men's national team head coach Bob Bradley has had some tough decisions to make regarding his starting lineup during the Confederations Cup, but his decisions heading into Sunday's final can be boiled down to one.

Who will replace Michael Bradley?

When thinking about the starting lineup for the rematch with Brazil, you can't really argue against coach Bradley keeping the same group that has defeated Egypt and Spain by a combined score of 5-0. What Bradley must do is decide on how to replace his son, who is missing the final after being issued a highly questionable red card vs. Spain (and no, there will be no appeal or overturning of that red card so forget that idea).

Bradley has a variety of options to choose from, but one player has earned the right to start.

That player is Benny Feilhaber.

While he certainly didn't have the best game in his lone start of the tournament, Feilhaber has been very good in his appearances since, capped by his sharp ball movements leading to Clint Dempsey's goal in the win vs. Spain. Sure, the image of seeing him stripped by Giuseppe Rossi leading up to Italy's first goal in the U.S. team's 3-1 loss, but Feilhaber has played well since and merits the start.

Bradley's other options? Sacha Kljestan is regarded as the leading contender, but his foolish red card vs. Brazil capped a forgettable performance by the Chivas USA midfielder. Jose Francisco Torres is a good option off the bench, but he has yet to play in this tournament so starting him in the final wouldn't make much sense.

That leaves Feilhaber, the Brazilian-born midfielder failed to impress the last time he started against his native country (Brazil's 4-2 friendly win in Chicago in 2007). On that day Feilhaber was clearly out of form and facing the effects of not playing for Derby County. Now, Feilhaber has slowly worked his way into the national team mix and has played well as a substitute (including an impressive showing vs. Brazil). On Sunday, the U.S. team will need him to play well as a starter.

With Feilhaber in the lineup, here is what we should see vs. Brazil:






One lineup variation I'm hearing a lot of is having Dempsey start up top and Davies on the wing. The reason that isn't ideal is because Davies is best-suited up top, where his speed can cause trouble and he can keep pressure on opposing centerbacks, but more importantly, because Dempsey brings better defensive work, possession and passing to the table on the right flank, where it is needed the most. Now, if there were a natural right midfielder in the U.S. pool who could provide the work rate, possession, passing and ability to beat defenders that Dempsey does, I think we would see Dempsey up top. Unfortunately, that player doesn't exist right now.

What do you think of this lineup? Would you stick with the same group that got you to the final? Would you go with Feilhaber over the other midfield options? Are you confident that the Americans can put together another strong performance and exact some revenge against Brazil on its way to the Confederations Cup title?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Warren – I like the idea of pushing Boca up as a d-mid for this game.

    Am I the only one crapping myself that we are gonna start Benny and Clark as our 2 defensive midfielders vs Brazil????? I’m US through & through, but these 2 will be far outmatched. Will certainly have to have the games of their lives.

  2. Plug in Feilhaber for Bradley. At this point the question revolves around the subs, because we’re now looking at a situation where Altidore and Dempsey both will be gassed by the second half, Feilhaber will be playing his first full 90 in quite a while, and everyone but Bocanegra on the back line will have some ~370 minutes on them. So who do you sub in, and for whom? Will one of the Torres/Adu mystery combo finally appear? What about Bornstein, Beasley, and Kljestan, are they bound for an encore against Brazil? We may hope not with the latter group, but it might be more reasonable to go with the known commodity in a final match. No?

  3. Harry

    Whens the last time Adu’s played and showed something for the US senior team. Better yet, when’s the last time hes played for club? Hell…when is the last time he suited up for a club??

    Its plain and simple with respect to international ball. You dont play for club…you dont get meaningful playing time. It has to do with fitness and game plan. If the game plan calls for someone to be effective for 65+ minutes then guess what…Benny…adu…and in my opinion Josy as well will not be soccer fit to start. no one is saying he sucks…the only thing that is being said is that he is not match-fit. And, there are other options other than Adu that can be effective in the role left vacant by Bradley. Remember, you are trying to fill the hole left by Bradley. And frankly Adu is no Bradley. they have 2 different styles of play. Josi on the other hand is better than what we have currently at striker soo you go with your best. Adu is not the best at this point in time.

  4. I agree with the starting lineup because I don’t think they have a better option right now than Dempsey out outside halfback; if they did, I think I would want to start Dempsey at forward and look to bring Davies in as a sub if US losing late since his speed would be even more magnified against tired defenders. A little concerned with Dempsey’s defensive ability against speedy Brazilian outside players and his inexplicable need to dribble in the back when other players are pushing forward. I think Fielhaber is always the best choice for attacking midfielder whether Bradley is available or not. Harkes said during the game “get the ball to your best player” and Fielhaber understands this and looks for Donovan in space which is how US got their second goal (although not a spectacular play by Donovan – it still led to a great scoriing oppurtunity). Clark, Dempsey, and Davies all missed Donovan uncovered on deep wide runs that would have led to the same type of scoring chance that got the second goal. Fielhaber sees the field better than any other player on the US team, but is a little suspect on defending which is why he needs to be the attacking midfielder. Please – no more Klestian or Casey (I hope there’s no need to mention Beasley anymore). The Casey subs late are mind boggling; that is the perfect fit for Freddy Adu who has the best dribbling skills on the team and is most likely to beat a player in a one v one situation (especially when the other team is pushing players forward). In that situation, he might only need to beat one defender to go one on one with the goalie. Even if Casey beats a defender, he doesn’t have the speed to run half the field one on one to the keeper. These are of course just my opinions and I should point out that I have no caps.

  5. i just have one question? What has Kjlestan done? Seriously guess who was our General for our U-20, U-23 and a few USMNT games………..Adu. What happened? I remember when Adu was playing with Benfica and Starting US games in late 2007 everybody was like “Adu is clearly our best well-rounded player in history”…” he is better with his right foot than Donovan is with his right foot” fast-foward 1 1/2 later and everybody be hating on Adu………is it because what the Euro-club coaches say/do thats the final word? k.

    Posted by: harry



    2007 was a real long time ago.

    Kjlestan, who is stylistically very similar to a bull in a china shop, plays regularly for his club which is a lot more than can be said for Adu. The reasons don’t really matter but Freddy hasn’t played regularly for his club for nearly two years, an eternity at the professional level. At the very least he is terribly rusty. Also, all those U-whatever teams are great for spotting potential but they mean nothing at the Senior level. Freddy still has great potential but then so do lots of other players. You like him and I get that but, to date, he has proven himself (on the field) to be nothing special.

    I like him as well but he is a defensive liability. On a team that can afford the luxury of having such a player that would be fine but the USMNT needs to have everyone, even Dempsey, carry their share of the defensive burden. Right now the US has a chance to win a tournament, a very rare event. Do you really want to rely on someone who has done absolutely nothing in two years to impress the people he most needs to impress i.e. his coaches? Adu needs to go somewhere where the coaches believe in him and will use him. And the responsibility for that is on Freddy Adu, not Monaco, not Benfica, nor Bradley.

    I don’t know what Bradley really thinks of him but international coaches need players to prove to their club coaches that they are “worthy”. By and large, Bradley, or any international coach, doesn’t have the time to “develop” Adu. It is on Freddy to get that done at the club level and so far he has done a awful job of it. Remeber, players with “potential” are what get coaches fired.

  6. This is a game that controlling the midfield will be critical. I think Torres might be the best on the ball of any center in camp but I doubt BB will use him at all. It would be the correct thing to do

    I don’t know why BB called the guy into this tournament then never used him. Should have saved him and Wynne for the Gold Cup but now that BB has beaten a giant he’s POSITIVE he’s doing the right thing. I however think that the Spain win was the result of the team on the field overachieving, in spite of BB. The problem with that is you can’t win like that very much

    Torres in the center with Clark gives us the best chance of scoring

  7. I think Feilhaber gets the start, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a Demarcus Beasley sighting….Could Beasely actually get the chance for some redemption? If Bradley puts him in and he fails, I think psychologically Beasley (and me) would not be able to recover…

  8. I’m wiht the Benny in for Bradley.

    But, I would look at sliding Donovan or Dempsey into the center of the park and leave Feilhaber out wide like this:


  9. Wow, to the person who said Adu dosent deserve to play……………i just have one question? What has Kjlestan done? All he has doen is score a hat-trick against a Sweden “C” team in a meaningless friendly in front of 9,000 fans and plus he got benched in MLS. Seriously guess who was our General for our U-20, U-23 and a few USMNT games………..Adu. What happened? I remember when Adu was playing with Benfica and Starting US games in late 2007 everybody was like “Adu is clearly our best well-rounded player in history”…” he is better with his right foot than Donovan is with his right foot” fast-foward 1 1/2 later and everybody be hating on Adu………is it because what the Euro-club coaches say/do thats the final word? I hope not it makers us fans look weak.

  10. “being issued a highly questionable red card”

    No it really wasn’t. At least not to anyone who cares about the game and doesn’t want to see foul play hurt players. Bradley isn’t very smart is all, maybe he’ll learn not to go cleats up.

  11. Benny has played well…….as a sub.

    Based on his play against Italy and the fact that he hasn’t had a lot of club playing time, he doesn’t really seem to have game fitness and can’t go 90, hence the substitute appearances.

    So who would you sub for him? Perhaps Bornstein, who after all, was a forward at UCLA. I’m inclined to start Bornstein as a midfielder and bring Benny on later. If it ain’t broke…. Otherwise you are talking Sacha, Freddy, Torres or Beasley all of whom have negatives.

  12. there has been talk in the press about possibly going with a 4-5-1 and pulling Davies. PLease BB, do NOT do this. the US has never thrived with a 1 striker formation. just play our game,like we did spain, and Attack!!

  13. It’s too bad, really, about Bradley’s ghost red card.
    Feilhaber, right now at least, is best used as a sub off the bench. He is not match fit for 70-90 minutes. Every time he’s come off the bench with 25-30 minutes left, he makes a huge impact.
    Feilhaber right now is best used as a super sub. But there is no other choice with Bradley out.
    Not sure how I would feel about the idea of Davies on the wing. I would love Dempsey at the top with Altidore but Davies on the wing doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. He’s not a winger.

  14. Borstein as a midfield sub sounds likely. Bob has done that already.

    Posted by: Derek

    That’s what I came up with seeing what Bradley has to choose from. Only other choice would be Pearce because I just can’t see any of the others defending well – and as I said before Sasha K. is a bad defender even when his offensive form has been good. I’ve watched a lot of Chivas games because I admire Preki-both the as a player and a manager- and that is the conclusion I have drawn.

  15. Anyone who watched game one with Brazil and now recommends Kljestan to take the pitch at anytime should make an appointment with ……

  16. Benny is the only option and frankly the bench is questionable when we do have to bring a sub in. Even though Bradley did not deserve the red he needs to maintain the high energy that he plays with while avoiding the stupid cards, which will come with experience.

  17. B. bradley practically said his starting lineup will be what Ives said. It is hard to argue with. Of course, nearly every US player in the Spain game came off the field exhausted. Dempsey limped off when he was subbed. Davies looked tired before he was subbed and all the rest looked pretty quiet for a bunch of guys who should have looked jubulant. So, I would not be shocked if at least one of those players either did not start or was subbed fairly early. If saubs are needed, Torres would be my first choice at midfield, Pearce or Bornstein would be the sub at back. At forward, push Dempsey up and sub in Torresat his spot. Late in the game, if the US is up Kljestan could be counted on for 10 minutes or so of solid defending, so could Beasely who will be anxious to reprieve himself. I was not impressed with Connor’s efforts in either game, but he did hold the ball a bit against Spain. Maybe if we need that in the last 5 minutes. If the US is on the wrong end of a 1 goal game, Torres and maybe Adu will get a chance late.

    I am surprised Torres was not included on the Gold Cup roster, but if I read this right, Bradley thinks he can play, just thinks he needs time with the other first stringers to work things out. Putting him with what Bob obviously thinks are the second string guys would not do that, might send him the wrong message and might not endear him to his club team who have aready gon without him for a month.

  18. primoone:

    You certainly have one approach. My thought was that maybe BF gives us momment of brilliance in the first half and the US goes into the dressing room with a 1-0 lead, giving the US a chance to take a more cautious approach in the 2d half.

    Dying to see what choice BB makes.

  19. Feilhaber is definitely the best substitute for Bradley in MF, but Brazil is bigger, faster, and more physical than any of the other teams the U.S. has played in this tournament. We will miss Bradley’s pace, toughness, and grit in this one. Feilhaber seems to operate best with a bit of space and a few forwards as passing options, but I think Gilberto Silva will clamp down him hard and fast.

    I look forward to when Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones are healthy enough to provide more depth in midfield.

  20. say Feilhaber with me in an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent:


    i can’t help it… it’s just too much fun!

    (yes still high of win vs espana!)

  21. I absolutely LOVE the idea of moving Donovan or Dempsey to holding mid for this game. I know its a bit of tinkering, but I don’t think Benny is fit enough to go 90 in the middle and he has NEVER had a good game on the wing. Plus, as much as I think all the tournament-long clamoring for Adu or Torres is misplaced, I say go with:






    Bring Benny on at 60 and move Dempsey up top, and if we really need to spark some offense, bring Freddy on for Clark. No reason to play for a 1-goal loss here.

  22. Benny F. is not fit for 90 minutes or so they say which raises the question:

    who replaces him when he is gassed at the 60 minute mark?

    Sasha is a terrible defender even when in good form which he certainly ain’t.

    So to all out there: Who comes in since there isn’t a snowball chance in hell Torres or Adu is going to see the field?

    I look forward to your thoughts and think about it this way: Suppose we are in the lead when Benny runs out of gas.

    Thank you

  23. -Ct- I too am not the biggest fan of Sasha and would love to see Benny get the start but I think that we have benefitted from Benny’s insertion in the 2nd half and closer to the end of regulation. He brings that spark that dies out right around the 65 th minute. You insert Benny in the starting lineup and he will be eaten alive trying to keep up in the middle. He will have to play both sides of the midfield and that is definitely not his game. Brazil will eat through benny so fast that it would tire Rico out just trying to recover…(take Torres fatiguing trying to wipe DMB ass for him everytime he was caught out of position in the Costa rica game). Sasha does give the ball away at times and is a bit tentative with his transition game..but lets give the kid another shot. Rico wasnt on form for that Italy game but he showed some heart. Remember Sasha did get a ranger tryout so there is some redeeming quality in the guy somewhere. Let the kid sink or swim. Bring Benny or Torres on at the half when we need that offensive spark. Because if you bring sasha in later in the match,…you might as well be playing with 10 men.

  24. I stand corrected regarding Torres being capped. Realized the same later in the day after posting. So embarrassed…(j/k)


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