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Who should the USMNT start vs. Panama?

USAvsHaiti (

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If the U.S. men's national team is going to successfully defend its CONCACAF Gold Cup title, it will do so with a very short-handed squad.

With Charlie Davies, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson Michael Parkhurst, Benny Feilhaber and Freddy Adu all off to Europe, U.S. head coach Bob Bradley will have to work some magic to put together a starting XI that can knock off a Panama team that has been gaining momentum since a tournament-opening loss to Guadeloupe.

Trying to come up with a starting lineup for the U.S. team shouldn't be that tough considering how few options remain, and with Bradley not planning to call in any of his seven extra roster players for Saturday's match (call-ups for a semifinal and final would be very likely), the U.S. team looks prepared to go with the group it has left.

So what will the starting lineup look like vs. Panama? Here's a likely squad:

Projected USA Starting Lineup vs. Panama





Other possibilities? Bradley could give Kenny Cooper a start, but Arnaud looked better vs. Haiti and deserves the look. Bradley could also shift Holden out wide and use Sam Cronin in central midfield, or play a 4-2-3-1 with Ching alone up top and Holden behind him, like this:






What do you think of these lineups? Which lineup would you go with against Panama?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Prefer Harkes and Wynalda a ton over Balboa. Harkes has at least been critical of players. Wynalda has no filter. Balboa… ehh.

    Oh wait, are we still talking lineup? These guys are over the hill.

  2. ——–Ching—–Cooper
    — Holden—-



  3. —–Ching————Cooper—————–






  4. Harkes is very knowledgeable and has good insights but he really nitpicks on things and then becomes obsessed and harps on them all the time(see Dempsey). I feel like I’m being nagged.

    I wouldn’t dream of contradicting him because he knows a lot more than I do but there is just something about his “know- it all-I-would-have-done it-better-than-him” that just gets under the skin after about 15 minutes. You can tell he is still just dying to be out there. We could use him.

    Still, it beats having Balboa and certainly, Alexi, in the booth. That would just be too much.

  5. Speaking of US Internationals turned into sports commentators, did anyone know that Jimmy Conrad does commentary for Beach soccer?

    I’d love to see Claudio Reyna become a color commentator.

  6. Isaac-

    I should have mentioned that I do like P.J. Dellacamera.

    He lets you enjoy the game without too much intrusion. Harkes is very knowledgable and I must say that I don’t know one-thousandth of what he knows about soccer,but I just wish that he was half as good a commentator as he was a player. I always enjoyed watching him play. He’s one of the best players my country has ever produced and for that I am forever grateful to him.

  7. Can we whine about BB screwing up the callups? Once he knew that he had an extra 7 from the Confed Cup, he should have made his 23 picks excluding Adu & Davies (if he knew they would leave). He could have called up Pontius for more depth. As for the 7 from the Confed Cup, it’s clear some of them aren’t going to play (Guzan, Klestjan), so BB could have put Adu, Davies or Wynne on that roster.

    I’m feeling the same as I did going into the Brazil championship game at Confed Cup, no depth! Imagine if we had Pontius available off the bench or Wynne starting.

    I think our starts are ok, but I don’t think our bench will add anything.

  8. Listening to a USMNT game that Harkes is commentating is like listening to a coach’s scout at a game .If I hear Harkes say “That’s much better” one more time I think I’ll puke.

    Harkes- If you read this I want you to know that you were a wonderful player and an excellent captain and I appreciate all that you did for the USMNT. I just don’t care for your TV work.

  9. CapeCodFutbol-

    Well said concerning Harkes.

    I don’t want to sound like a complainer but I’ve come to the realisation that I really don’t care for the commentators that FSC and ESPN have. I miss Wynalda and Balboa doing games on TV. I honestly don’t remember them ever getting under my skin the way the guys from ESPN and FSC do.

  10. Andy in Atlanta

    I agree with your 3:30 post.

    In the spirit of being fair, I may have been a little too hard on Jozy. He is a much better player than I may have portrayed in previous posts. I’m happy with all that Ching, Altidore, Davies, and Cooper have done for the progress of the USMNT.

  11. Altidore is a very good player who is going to get much better. I’m supporting him all the way. Maybe I’m a little negative about him because when Harkes commentates a game in which Jozy’s playing , he does nothing but heap too much undeserved praise on Jozy (whom he had at NYRB when he was an asst. coach).If Harkes would have been a little more critical of Jozy’s performance like he was of, lets say, Dempsey’s performance at the CONFED CUP then maybe I’d be less critical myself.I mean, lets be honest, Jozy is nowhere near as good a player as Dempsey right now but you wouldn’t know that if you had listened to Harkes.Harkes basicaly had to eat his words when Dempsey scored 3 in 3 games to end the tournament and then recieved the bronze boot.When I watch the games and I don’t let the commentator tell me who is great and who isn’t. Harkes was a great player for the USMNT and is in my personal Hall Of Fame but I don’t enjoy him as a commentator. I just want to see for myself that Jozy is as good as advertised, and not repeat what Harkes might say.Maybe some of you have been swayed by Harke’s biased opinion. Then again, I am no expert and maybe those who disagree with me are right. I do respect your opinions CapeCodFutbol and Hush.

  12. I love Jozy but he is not ecxactly a burner and Cooper is by no means slow… I think Kenny is unlucky that he alwas plays with a disjointed squad rather than the normal together midfield… I think he has a lot to show, hopefully he will…

    Posted by: Andy in Atlanta | July 15, 2009 at 03:30 PM

    Actually Jozy is very quick and from what I’ve seen Cooper isn’t exactly all that pacy. Your argument that Kenny Cooper has to play under a crappy staff would work if you weren’t comparing him to a player who used to play for the New York Red Bulls, a team whose front office is only marginally better than that of a Day Care Center’s.

  13. Isaac-

    You’re right.

    I forgot to mention Davies, who I like seeing in our starting line-up more than any other forward. But he’s not here now. Would I hate seeing Altidore in our starting line-up?…No,I’d love to see him ,but I still don’t understand all the bad print for Cooper. Team him up with the same starters that Jozy (whom I like)has been teamed up with and I think he might make believers out of some of the doubters out there.He has only played in 6 USMNT games so far. Hey, I may be wrong and you may be right. It’s just my opinion.

    And yes, I do like Altidore AND Cooper.

    I’m a USMNT fan who will always root for our players,with the exception of a small group of players(Burns was one of them after he allowed Germany to score on a corner when he was supposed to be guarding the post in WC98)We’ve come a long way since the early 90’s when I started watching the team and I believe the future is only going to get better!

  14. I love Jozy but he is not ecxactly a burner and Cooper is by no means slow… I think Kenny is unlucky that he alwas plays with a disjointed squad rather than the normal together midfield… I think he has a lot to show, hopefully he will…

  15. Some strange stuff going on today. Jozy has pace, Cooper has none. You can’t coach speed, as they say. Altidore is already, at 19, better than Cooper, particulalry in the international game. I do’t know how you can say otherwise.

    Our line-up options are pretty uninspiring. But that’s because we are a good enough team that our best players have other obligations — which is a huge improvement.

    No question, having watched some of both, the overall leval of play in MLS is superior to that of the A-League. Still god to see Johnson doing something, as he needs his confidence back. He’s well out of the picture now, but we could certainly use another good forward option, as Ching ain’t getting any younger and Cooper ain’t getting any faster.

    All that being said — other than Holden and maybe Rogers, whatever line-up we field is going to be pretty toothless, regardless of what the MLS-homers say. Should be enough to squeak by Panama though.

  16. Arnaud is garbage. Bring in Altidore and play him up top with Ching or Cooper.

    Posted by: Kevin | July 15, 2009 at 03:01 PM

    Right. Because Cooper was the one who got the goal against Haiti.

  17. To add to the points of CapeCod and Hush, Cooper is DEFINITELY not one of the two best youth forwards we have. I think EVERYONE here can agree that it’s Altidore and Davies, with Altidore and Ching our best forwards overall.

  18. Mr.Kite:

    I don’t see the same thing your seeing. Cooper is a below average player in the MLS. I haven’t seen this man do anything against any opponent in Concacaf. I saw him play against Guatemala in Dallas a few years ago and was shocked on his disgusting performance. I couldn’t believe this man was on the field wearing a U.S national jersey!… I can’t believe you are trying to compare Jozy to Cooper da pooper! The goal against Spain is how most goals are scored in Europe. Watch ETO,Drogba,Palermo,Adebayor,etc… also 58% of the goals are touched by a goal keeper in Euro play!, that’s futbol!.. Your also forgetting that it was Inker behind the net. 🙂 The basic fundamentals In futbol teach you to fire away to the goal when being inside the box without wasting time looking at the net. Look at Fabiano’s first goal against the U.S in the final!

    Cooper needs dual citizenship so he can play for Guatemala and leave the USNMT alone! I hope casey does the same!:)

  19. It’s an issue that Cooper’s success is often at the mercy of an unfamiliar team. Let’s face it – that wasn’t exactly a high-functioning squad against Haiti, and strikers are the field players that rely most on the rest of the team.

    Criticizing his performance appears to be just criticizing for the sake of it. Sure, it wasn’t a great game for him, but what exactly did he do wrong? Not much.

    There doesn’t have to be much “change” for Cooper to be effective, and he’d likely be much more effective in Bradley’s typical “empty bucket” than in any other formation (well, maybe if he was an only striker between two quality wings…but that’s not really feasible for the US). Throwing him out there with Quaranta, Evans, Clark, and Heaps manning the flanks wasn’t exactly setting Cooper up for success.

  20. CapeCodFutbol-

    You may be right.But what is it that Jozy has done that you don’t think Cooper can do? Hustle,touch,leadership..etc.?

    If you want to talk about “right now” can we agree that they are 2 of the best young forwards that we have right now and that we’ll support both of them and hope for great things from them in the future?

  21. Those are both great line-ups. I think i’d vote for trying the second one Ives listed. Ching would get good service and Holden would contribute quite well. I dont think full squad would do so well in a 4-2-3-1, but it looks like a good way to go with this set of players.

    Despite the losses of good players, i think this squad could still make things happen! To me, our biggest loss seems to be Cherundolo.

  22. Mr. Kite I am underwhelmed by your defense of Cooper. Whether or not Jozy develops into a “great” player in the future is largely irrelevant in the comparison, because the plain fact *right now* is that he is a better player than Cooper. This is Cooper’s opportunity to impress, and frankly he has been disappointing. I hope he turns it around, but imo he hasn’t earned the starting spot, even on this depleted roster.

  23. That article posted by Kenny Cooper makes a good point but at the same time sort of puts it self down. True, had the central midfielders of the USA kept back in an empty bucket Cooper would have more space to operate, but if they had we wouldn’t have produced the first goal, at least not in that fashion anyways. Also, Cooper’s size and strength isn’t everything but some service would have been nice for the big guy especially considering Holden’s goal only came when he moved out wide.

    My problem is that we have to shift around the entire lineup to make it to Cooper’s liking and while that’s remotely acceptable in a tournament like this, We don’t have time for that with the full team. That being said, I wouldn’t throw fits if I saw him start on Saturday.

  24. has anyone seen panama play? i have not, but it would be interesting to compare them against Haiti, Grenada, Honduras…

    also if we advance should we then expect other players like clark or bornstien? or is this the group that is going to beat canada, mexico and panama? i know that letting these players play in meaningful matches is the only way to let them grow, but every game is going to be too close to be comfortable.

  25. anyone know if G. D. Santos is going to get called in for preseason stuff. Seems like no other team has members leaving.

    I just hope no US v. Mexico. 1. we’d be underdogs at this point I feel and 2. they need no momentum (fanwise/playerwise) going into Aug 12.

  26. I sincerely believe that Cooper should really only be reduced to 15-20 minutes on the bench. As CapeCodFutbol said we don’t have time to make a lineup that fits his style of play especially when he’s not even producing. The second lineup makes sense since we’re going to need a few more players helping defensively. All the players in that midfield as far as what I’ve seen worked very hard in the defensive department while at least showing SOME sort of offensive ability.

  27. I think Holden plays better on the right wing — I like your lineup otherwise, but it might be nice to move Holden right, slot Cronin into Holden’s spot and drop Quaranta to the bench.


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