If the starting lineup the U.S. team fielded in Saturday's loss to Slovakia didn't look far enough away from Bob Bradley's first-choice squad, wait until you see the team we are likely to have take the field in Denmark on Wednesday.
The departures of Clint Dempsey and Steve Cherundolo from U.S. camp means two more veterans who won't be in the lineup Wednesday. They join Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit, as well as seriously-injured Charlie Davies, who isn't going to be back any time soon. That means two more chances for younger players to step up and stake their claims to prime spots on the U.S. depth chart.
So just what will the squad look like that takes on Denmark in Aarhus? Here's one potential starting lineup:
PROJECTED USA LINEUP vs. DENMARK
A few notes to consider:
With the game being in Aarhus, I can't help but get the feeling that Benny Feilhaber will get the start. That said, the U.S. team will need some extra bite in central midfield to deal with Denmark's midfield weapons. That means we could see Benny Feilhaber on the left (where he plays for his club) and Ricardo Clark paired with Michael Bradley in central midfield. This is contingent on Clark being completely healthy. He had been nursing a sore knee during the playoffs, but looked healthy in his last playoff game (late-game mistakes notwithstanding). If Clark can't go, then look for Feilhaber in central midfield, with Robbie Rogers playing on the wing.
Conor Casey was abysmal in the Slovakia match while Eddie Johnson showed some good movement and confidence. Jozy Altidore wasn't great against Slovakia either, but having a speedy Johnson alongside him from the start against Denmark could help.
As good as Jonathan Spector looked in central defense vs. Slovakia, he should return to right back for the Denmark match. That would clear the way for veteran Jimmy Conrad to make his first national team start in Europe since the 2006 World Cup.
Left back remains an interesting situation because you have regular starter Jonathan Bornstein, former starter Heath Pearce and newcomer Edgar Castillo, who fans are dying to see play for the U.S. team. I have Bornstein penciled in here, but don't be surprised to see Castillo or Pearce get the start.
What do you think of this lineup? Which lineup would you like to see vs. Denmark? Hoping to see Castillo get some playing time?
Share your thoughts below.