Photo by ISIphotos.com
The starting lineup you see above is the U.S. national team squad that played against (and was embarrassed by) Costa Rica on Wednesday. Take a good look at it. You will never see it again. Ever.
You certainly won't see it on Saturday vs. Honduras, and not just because Michael Bradley is set to miss the Honduras match as he serves a suspension for yellow card accumulation. In fact, Bradley is highly unlikely to be the only player of the ones pictured above who won't be in the lineup on Saturday.
U.S. head coach Bob Bradley has some tough decisions to make as he prepares for a match that is suddenly vital to the U.S. team's pursuit of a World Cup berth. Does he bench DaMarcus Beasley, or does he play him at his natural left wing spot? Does he start Pablo Mastroeni, or go with the more athletic Ricardo Clark? Does he stick with Jozy Altidore, or does he give recently-called Conor Casey a shot? Does he take a chance and start Frankie Hejduk (who is nursing a groin injury), or does he go with Jonathan Spector?
Here is the lineup I can see Bob Bradley starting against Honduras on Saturday (along with the lineup I would go with):
Projected USA lineup on Saturday:
Here is the lineup I would like to see go against Honduras:
About the First lineup:
I can see Bradley sticking with Beasley, but using him on the wing. I also think he will bring back the Mastroeni-Kljestan combo that played the second half against Costa Rica. Mastroeni's experience is likely to win out over Ricardo Clark while the fact that Bradley replaced Torres with Kljestan tells me the coach wasn't as impressed with Torres as I was. Also, a point to clarify: Sacha Kljestan is NOT suspended for the Honduras match. The word if him being suspended made the rounds on Wednesday night but was, in fact, not true.
About the second lineup:
I know the game is in Chicago and all, but I couldn't trust playing Beasley just three days after the debacle vs. Costa Rica. That's just me. I also wasn't impressed at all with Mastroeni. Clark is faster, more athletic and while he doesn't boast Mastroeni's experience, he does know Amado Guevara very well. He played alongside him and he's played against him. Torres deserves the start. Yes, he struggled early against Costa Rica, but his final 25 minutes were very promising. As for the forwards, I'd be very tempted to plug Conor Casey right in, but don't see him being started that quickly when he hasn't been with the team. Charlie Davies has shown some good things in the past, and while that stinker against Sweden is still in our memory banks, I think he's fast, intelligent and tough and ready to go.
One thing I'm very curious about is the status of Frankie Hejduk. If Hejduk recovers from his groin issues, would Bradley consider playing Spector at left back, with Hejduk on the right?
Now it's your turn. What starting lineup would you like to see the U.S. national team use against Honduras?
Share your thoughts below.