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Who should the USA start vs. Spain?

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Beat Spain.

Two words, one seemingly impossible task. Not just for the U.S. national team, which faces the European champions on Wednesday (2:25pm, ESPN/Univision), but seemingly for any team these days.

So how will the Americans pull off an upset? The better question is how will the United States measure up? Will the U.S. team push Spain for 90 minutes, as they did in last year's 1-0 loss to Spain? Or will they make costly mistakes and lose badly to another world power?

The U.S. team could choose to bunker in, 'Park the Bus' if you will, as Iraq did in losing 1-0 to Spain last week, but that approach wouldn't really tell us much about the United States and its ability to play its own brand of soccer well against even the best of competition.

Expect the Americans to field a lineup with its share of attacking options, but also with a solid defensive foundation. In fact, there isn't much reason to believe we'll see a lineup much different from the one that beat Egypt, 3-0, on Sunday.

So who will the United States start vs. Spain? Here is one possible lineup:

USA Projected Lineup vs. Spain






While Jay DeMerit has been very good playing in place of Carlos Bocanegra, you have to go with Bocanegra if he is healthy. It should not be forgotten that the Bocanegra-Onyewu tandem did very well vs. Spain last year, with Bocanegra helping contain Torres while the Liverpool striker was in the game.

Now, if Bocanegra still isn't recovered from his hamstring injury then you stay with Demerit, meaning we could see the same starting lineup that beat Egypt.

So why not Bocanegra at left back and DeMerit in the middle? That move wouldn't be too bad, although you wonder how smart it would be to have Bocanegra testing out his recovered hamstring on the left flank against Spain's speedy wingers in space. No, marking Torres and Villa wouldn't be easy, but marking them would provide different physical tests.

What other changes could we see? It's tough to imagine any other moves. The Bradley-Clark combo worked so well vs. Egpyt, making Jose Torres and Freddy Adu extreme longshots. Benny Feilhaber has been the midfielder off the bench and the safe bet to get the call if Clark or Bradley couldn't go for some reason.

Here is one lineup I wouldn't mind seeing:





Why this group? Altidore has had his moments, but hasn't produced the chances you would want for the minutes he has gotten (That said, I do think he would be a handful for Spain's centerbacks). This lineup puts Dempsey closer to goal and puts Donovan and Davies in space, where their speed can go at Spain's somewhat vulnerable flanks. You also put together Bradley, Clark and Feilhaber in central midfield, where they just might work well enough together to slow down Spain's creative midfielders.

The U.S. lineup is relatively easy to call, especially compared to the Spain lineup, which has many more variables. It's a safe bet that you will see Torres, Villa, Fabregas, Xavi and Xabi Alonso, but the back four has plenty of variations and there are several midfielders who can slot in with the aforementioned quintet. Here is one potential Spain lineup:






No matter who Spain starts, the key to slowing them down will be cutting off passing lanes and tightly marking the dangerous forward tandem of VIlla and Torres. The Americans contained Torres last year, but Villa didn't play in that game. If the U.S. team can stay organized in midfield, and disciplined in the back, we will have a very competitive game to watch, much like last year's meeting.

For those of you wondering, here were the starting lineups the last time these teams met a year ago:

SPAIN 1, USA 0 (June 4, 2008): The Lineups



——————-E. Johnson——————–


E. Lewis————Adu—————Dempsey






The United States did well against Spain to create some chances and defend well, but the Spanish will be employing a 4-4-2 this time around that will provide a much tougher test for the U.S. back-line.

One thing the Americans must do is attack on the flanks and force Sergio Ramos and Joan Capdevila to defend. Pressuring them means limiting Spain's flank options and forcing playmakers Xavi and Fabregas to get around Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark in order to create chances. That might seem like a bit of a mismatch, but last year Bradley and Maurice Edu held up very well for about 70 minutes before finally being worn-down and pierced by a beautiful Xavi run.

The U.S. team would do well to look closely at last year's meeting and realize that it will face a very similar Spain team on Wednesday, while the current U.S. team is stronger than last year's group. That, coupled with Sunday's victory, should give the Americans enough confidence to make Wednesday's semifinal a more competitive match than some might expect it to be.


Now it is your turn. What starting lineup would you like to see the United States use vs. Spain? Think the USA can pull off the upset? Excited to see how the American stack up against the best team in the world?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. >>If our defense gets carded to hell and back we could have some issues with South Africa.
    Posted by: AdamTheRed<<

    Best post I've seen in a while. Hilarious!

  2. same lineup as egypt match… given our recent performances, i’m not quite sure what we’ll see from the US today. hopefully everyone (including the coach) is ready from the time they arrive at the stadium. if this is the team we had in 1st half against italy, we will have a good match well worth risking our jobs today to watch. if this is the US from the brazil match and 2nd half against italy, i hope you’re watching from a pub with a generous bartender and a good excuse for not being at your job….

  3. If the US has any chance of getting a result against Spain it is playing Trap and Attack and you do that with speed. I like the idea of a 4-5-1 with the following players:






  4. I actually think several of you have it right…
    Spector’s ability to make attacking runs allows Benny to cut inside and combine with Bradley…
    I would like to see Adu get some time, because, as many have already noted, he has the ability to make quick, quality decisions and play some creative balls…
    Overall I’m comfortable going to war with the eleven guys I listed up there…

  5. Well, how can you pick a line-up if you don’t know whether we will keep 10 or 11 players on?

    Assuming the rash tackles & resulting red cards are a thing of the past, I think defending the space from the 1/2 into the back 1/3 will be critical. Once Spain beats us with one of two passes and we’re chasing the play, they should be able to score.

    Not sure who is tired and how tired. It’s a problem not just of legs but of weary minds which make mistakes.

    I fancy a 4-5-1 with an aggressive front 4, something like this.






    I’d include Altidore if he looks fresh, because I think he can be a handful, which may open up space for the other attackers. Also, the man is coming up, I feel Jozy’s worth pushing for development purposes even if in a specific pre World Cup game it does not turn out to be the best choice. His development might make a difference in 2010

    Hoping for a good game

  6. I have a different mindset. I want the soccer in this country to get better! I want us to be on a path to being a world power!

    But it cannot happen with the current people at the helm, … or clueless donkeys as head coaches. They truly do not understand the game!

    I think there is only one way for us to realize there’s something very wrong, and hence be forced to rethink our whole approach. That is, we need to get raped whenever we play the top teams. Just look at most of the comments here after our Egypt performance – all of sudden everything is ok again? And so many people stating that we can be competitive with Spain? Heaven forbid we end up losing by only one goal or even winning this game … then absolutely nothing will change!

    Spain, please do US soccer a huge favor and beat the living crap out of us! Show the blind people over here our true level!

    p.s. Ives: I hope we use your laughable 4-3-3, that would ensure a massacre!

  7. I wouldn’t mind seeing Boca on the left if he is healthy. For me Bornstein hasn’t has his best tournament, and I question his ability to deal with top notch competition. Also, I’d like to see Adu get some time. I, too, remember his display from our last visit to Spain, and he looked impressive. I think Donovan will be very motivated for his first meeting with Espana, and I think he could be lethal for us tomorrow.

  8. Just wanted to put on the record that Altidore was offside (about 2 yards) on the build-up to Lil Mikey’s goal, the 2nd goal, vs Egypt, fwiw. Of course, we were due a call after the 2 reds which weren’t reds.

    ^^^^^^^^ Yeah I saw that but Jozy wasn’t involved in the play since it was a shot, not a pass to him. It was good officiating on that non-call.

    As to Lil Mikey and his punk mouth, I should point out that we are now playing 5 matches at the Confed Cup, and we will lose tomorrow, probably badly. There can be no draw in the 3rd place match. I am tipping Bafana Bafana, as we struggle against African sides.

    ^^^^^^^^^^And nobody would have expected us to win three out of those five games (Spain, Brasil, Italy). We’ve never won at Saprissa. Didn’t the Yanks beat the SA team in a friendly (in SA) last year? Aren’t you selling the USA a little short here? In any case you have an axe to grind. Now you’re counting losses in games that haven’t even happened yet. It reeks of bitterness.

    I can only conclude that you have your mind made up no matter what happens tomorrow and (most likely Sunday against SA). Analysis F-A-I-L

  9. @Posted by: green | June 23, 2009 at 09:19 AM

    Amen to that. Bob’s decision to pull Adu was positively mind boggling. I refuse to even call it a decision as it gives it a sense that there was some actual thought involved. It’s a shame Adu isn’t in the greatest fitness right now as his game matches up against Spain better than pretty much anyone else we have. (as evidenced by his last performance against them. I have a feeling Torres would do very well also.

    There should be no circumstance in which Bocanegra sees the pitch unless he’s been 100% healthy the last 2 games and was simply being saved just in case we got to the semis. He is painfully slow. Fernando and Villa will carve his janky hammy to shreds.

    You can add me to the camp that thinks you are a bit harsh on Altidore, Ives. He’s has gotten ZERO service (what else is new?) If he was blowing chances left and right I would see the point but he is pretty much left to rot up top 90% of the match.

  10. Heck ya I’m stoked we’re playing Espana!

    Key to Victory: Score early! Spain hasn’t scored any goal against a real team (i.e. not New Zealand) before the 15 minute mark. They rely on possession and build-up. Strike ’em early, hit ’em fast and hard.

    I’m really glad Iniesta isn’t playing. That guy is ridiculous on Barca. Xavi needs him to distract defenses. w/o Iniesta we can focus on shutting down Xavi (258 passes 89% completion rate).

    GO USA! I’m a believer!

  11. @ Bradley Sampson

    The US beat Egypt, which last I checked was in Africa and the US beat South Africa the last time they played.

  12. here’s to hoping for an awesome LD game boosting him into a transfer to a mid-table Lat Liga team or something.

  13. 4-4-2




    Dempsey looked much better up top and has not added much on defense when out wide. If Feilhaber is not playing well he is replaced by Adu (attaching midfield and slide Dempsey out to the right) or Torres (left midfield send Donovan out right). Let Boca recover fully before putting him back in, Onyewu-Demerit combo has played well.

  14. Just wanted to put on the record that Altidore was offside (about 2 yards) on the build-up to Lil Mikey’s goal, the 2nd goal, vs Egypt, fwiw. Of course, we were due a call after the 2 reds which weren’t reds.

    As to Lil Mikey and his punk mouth, I should point out that we are now playing 5 matches at the Confed Cup, and we will lose tomorrow, probably badly. There can be no draw in the 3rd place match. I am tipping Bafana Bafana, as we struggle against African sides.

    So, if that transpires, Lil Mikey, that’s losing 4 out of 5 matches, throw-in qualifying this summer and the upcoming loss at the Azteca, you and your Dad and the travel team will then end-up the summer campaign having lost 6 of 8 matches (losses to Los Ticos, Italia, Brasil, Spain, Bafana-Bafana, Mexico).

    Lastly, we were gifted the Honduras victory, just go to ESPN360 and click on that match, go to minute 60 and tell me what you think about the offside against Honduras right there.

    So, Lil Mikey, I can only conclude that the critics are right.

  15. Wasn’t that the same Boca-Gooch pairing that ran into each other while Xavi dribbled circls around them for the lone goal in that game last summer? Push Boca to LB and let Demerit keep the spot he’s earned. Idk if I like the idea of a LB i see sometimes struggling with MLS attackers going up against Spain’s.

  16. I’m kinda curious about the possibility of an Altidore-Dempsey pairing up top to start, with Adu or Torres coming as a sub. Unlikely….but sounds like fun.

  17. ————-Jozy————-





  18. ——–Altidore——-Davies————-





    Demerit has done well, play Bocanegra in his natural position. Bornstein has been overmatched. I could see the back four across as starters in the WC and with a year under their belts, hopefully the ability to communicate and read each other’s minds will improve.

  19. i think it should be obvious to everybody by now that torres and adu arent getting ANY PT in this tournament unless A) everybody else on the team somehow gets injured in a training session or B) maybe in a 3rd place game if spain beats us…i wouldnt even be surprised to see klejstan used as a sub in this game…BB has clearly entered a defiant “I’m gonna show you guys” mode when it comes to torres and adu’s PT…also dont be surprised to see conor casey either…the only person im convinced bradley has learned his lesson on is beasley…oh well…im gonna watch the game and hope for the best cause bradley’s “way of doing things is set thank you very much!”…so why even waste the mental energy

  20. I don’t know who BB should start, but i do know that fatigue is going to come into play. Egypt played two very spirited matches as well as the united states. But the USA was a little bit fitter and it really showed as Egypt ran out of gas. However, I was just on FIFA’s website and the stats showed that we had the top 3 players in terms of ground covered. Bradley, Dempsey, and Donovan all averaged over 7 miles a game. I imagine many more Americans were close to this number. This being said no Spaniard was even close to that number. This means they are moving the ball well and running less. I seriously hope BB considers all of his options because a tired team defending against a rested Spanish side is asking for trouble.

  21. I want Dempsey to get rest, but that probably won’t happen, so he should start up top. He hasn’t been defending at all this tournament and he will get torched by Capdevila and Silva on Spain’s left side, putting way too much pressure on Spector. Guzan should start also. Howard hasn’t looked all that good any he should have to earn his starting spot. I want Demerit can win a starting spot from Bocanegra, who has been shaky lately. Onyewu has played so much better with Demerit than he ever did along side Bocanegra.

  22. yes- and as many said above

    Attack Attack Attack because Bora ball will only get you beat badly with our total lack of team defensive understanding at this point.

  23. Boca on left, Bornstein out, leave in Demerit.

    Must start Clark in midfield and tell him where Xavi goes you shadow. He is the only one with the wheels and grit to even slightly hamper their midfeld.

  24. I would use the same line up as against Egypt, except perhaps use Torres or Adu instead of Dempsey. Perhaps have Dempsey sub in.

  25. Colin,
    What point of my argument was wrong? Apparently being condescending is the only way to get through to some people…

  26. A few more points on Adu:

    1. Yes, he played very well in our match vs. Spain.

    2. That match was 12 months ago.

    3. He hasn’t been playing much at all since then until now (he should have, IMHO).

    4. If the goal here is to actually put yourself into position to have a go at Spain, I’m not sure putting in a player that hasn’t been seeing much field time for the past 12+ months is that great of an idea.

    Again, not bashing as I really do like Adu but he’s got to be rusty at this point.


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