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Who should the USA start vs. Denmark?

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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:






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.


  1. Unfortunately the US may only have about 5-7 more games after Denmark before the rosters are submitted in May, I believe.

    This probably means the starting back 4 in the World Cup, right now, is Dolo, Spector, Boca, JB. Demerit and Gooch, if they come back healthy and in form, supplant Spector and Boca with Boca moving to left back.

    If Gooch is less than okay, and Spector continues to look as good as he did vs. Slovakia, then Spector starts with Demerit.

    Hejduk and JB are the reserves and Castillo, depending on how he shows in the next few games,is the wild card. If Gooch doesn’t make it back, or is completely out of shape, you choose from Goodson, Conrad, Marshall.

  2. We need Edgar Castillo to play wide in the midfield. We just don’t have a player like him who will run at people and create numerical advantages. He is not the answer at left back but the answer to so many of our needs. I believe Bob Bradley will have the strategic sense to play him where he’ll best suit our needs.

  3. I like Goodson a lot but Conrad looked very assured in the Gold Cup until he got concussed. He played well in the 2006 World Cup against Italy. Unless that rookie is exceptional,and I don’t think Goodson is, the World Cup is no place to blood him particularly at center back.

  4. Punished? Who suffers from Bornstein not playing again for an extended time? You’re just cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    What will you do if Castillo is no better than Bornstein? Bornstein plays because every other reasonable candidate has been tried and for one reason or another has been found wanting or was needed elsewhere. Remember, national team coaches can’t go out and buy players; so there is a limited supply of suitable left backs for the US.

    And we will have maybe 5-7 more games to blood Castillo or whoever. So if you want to cut off JB for the next few games fine, just don’t be upset if he is rusty when he gets back if Castillo isn’t an upgrade.

  5. I honestly think the quickest fastest guy in the pool should be put up top alongside Altidore with the jobs of 1. Spread the defense. 2. Make blistering runs 3. Harry the defense aka hustle.

    Given our current situation: We need someone that will be a distraction and cause physical matchup problems. Allowing the other guys to make the mark and sometimes latching onto a long ball.

    I also want to see findley, white and jemal to see who best fits this role. at this time EJ is the closest.

  6. Rogers was at Heerenveen in 2006-2007. He never made a first team appearance. He left for reasons not entirely clear and went to Columbus.

  7. Please please please get rid of Borenstein. For the few positives he gives about going forward and some speed, he loses more games for us than he wins. Put Castillo or Pierce or Bocanegra or Spector in there. ANYONE other than Borenstein. Mark my words, if that stubborn coach keeps putting loyalty over performance with this scrub he will cost us at least 1 game in the WC SAfrica which may keep us out of the 2nd round.

  8. Based on the players in camp I’d have to go along with MAES & JavaLavaJoe’s line ups (For the most part)





    I liked how spector played last match as a CB but truely believe he’s more use to us as a RB come next year. That being said would be OK with him playing either in this match. At LB give Castillo the start, if he plays poorly or if Rogers plays poorly try Castillo as LM in the second half and bring in Bornstein/Pearce as the LB (Not real happy with either choice). Give EJ the start up top with 50-60 minutes. Then bring in Cunningham for EJ. If we have to bring in Casey around the 80th min for Jozy. Bring Dax in around the 60 min mark for Benny (as Beeny seems to fade late in matches) and keep Clark out to rest his knee.

  9. Overall, just about the best analysis of it that I’ve seen so far.

    Altidore was a better player with Charlie around which is why EJ Cunningham and Findley (or whoever) may be able to replicate Davies’ physical skills but the tactical awareness and movement is another thing.

    Bradley knows the US talent pool does not yet match up with the teams we need to beat so he seems to believe that if you can’t beat them with talent then you can beat them with superior discipline, conditioning and desire. That was what happened at the Confed Cup. Superior tactics would also help but you can’t have everything and that seems to be coming. Once you have that solid base then it gives our talented individuals such as Dempsey, Donovan and Jozy a chance to express themselves. USMNT fans who moan about Bradley forget that a national team coach is stuck with the players he has and has to make do with them. It’s all very well to bitch about Bornstein but no one was happy with just about every other candidate who was tried there. Castillo may be an answer but from what I’ve seem of him, he is basically the same player. Bradley can’t go out and buy an Ashley Cole or a Maicon or the like.

    Jozy is still very much hit or miss. He is still around because, for the USMNT, he has been more hit than miss but you have to wonder how much longer that continues, given his inconsistency at the club level. The key for him will be to even out his club situation. National teams don’t develop players, clubs do.

  10. Perhaps. But if Bocanegra makes the same errors, we do not take note. We just let it go. If Bornstein makes a mistake we are all over him. If he does something good, we blow it off. Hmm.

    Human nature.

  11. Findley and Tony Taylor two guys I’m chomping at the bit to see up top with Altidore. I’m not saying either one of them is the answer, but I think they can possibly bring something to the table that we need. Right now the answer is Demps up top for me.

    I don’t think Tony Taylor is a good option for 2010. You may ask me, Then why put him in the mix?, and I’ll say, With the ability he has he could surprise you.

  12. Bornstein may be a hero in Honduras but he’s the goat right now and he should be punished for giving away the penalty. Castillo needs an extended run out with the Nats right now to get accustomed to playing with everyone. A friendly is the perfect place to do so.






  13. You are clearly from Columbus or on an other-worldly acid trip if you think Hejduk will start over Spector. Hedjuk was the SOLE reason that Columbus lost to RSL. He’s DONE with the Nats. Period.


  14. To play a formation we need to outside backs to play very high up the field to provide width. Since Castillo’s an unknown quantity and Spector isn’t the quickest right back in the world, I don’t think this flies just yet. If Castillo/Bornstein really starts to lock it down on the left and we play Dolo on the right the formation *might* work. That’s what tune-up friendlies are for, though, huh?

  15. I remember watching a Gold Cup game in a bar, and the TV was on mute, so I was relying on picking out the players by sight. I got all of them except one. He seriously did nothing that caught my eye, but obviously nothing that pissed me off, either.

    I get back, check my computer, and see that it was Sam Cronin and everyone seemed to love what he brought to the game. Lesson? Sometimes it’s AOK to not stand out. If Dax can put in performances like that, I don’t see much problem.

  16. Here’s the catch-22 with Robbie, though, if you’re right. We all agree he’s got a lot of potential, so if he’s plateaued what are the chances he’ll markedly improve in MLS? Even if he isn’t “European level” now, I think he has to go over there.

    And what does that even mean? Of course he isn’t Spain/Germany/Italy/France/England level. But if Michael Bradley was good enough to play on Heerenveen two years ago, Robbie’s good enough to go over there and improve himself, too.

  17. Some of us just really like to watch Jose play, me among them. I get excited when he’s on the field in a US shirt, because I know I will like what I see. That’s all, really.

  18. I probably chose my words poorly. Bob’s style doesn’t open up. He plays for discipline moving forward, because he doesn’t want to overstretch the team and give up cheap goals in transition. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Bob’s style of managing means we probably won’t see a team that tries to play two fast forwards running around. More specifically, Bob’s style is dependent on a decent hold up guy. I’m also not really sure we have the kind of midfield possession or distribution out of the back that would allow us to play that kind of attack anyway.

    Jozy is neither a speed kind of striker nor a target player yet. He’s young, I have to keep that in mind, but he’s too easy to move off the ball for a player of his size. He needs to work on his positioning in that area of the game. It seems to me that he’s generally a little late to see runs open up, which is something Davies was great at. Right now Jozy is kind of a tweener striker, from what I can tell. All potential, little polish as of yet. That’s ok, but I think that also means we should temper our expectations of what he’s capable of. He’ll have great games, and he’ll have games that make us want to tear our hair out; its part of growing. Unfortunately for him, he’s been christened the next great hope, and he has to do all the growing in front of very impatient fans.

    That’s what I was trying to get at with my Jozy comment/discipline comment. Basically, speed isn’t in Bob’s tactical vocabulary, which is fine, and Jozy hasn’t developed to a point where he’d be effective in that kind of set-up, so implementing it on the national team would force him to add that to his repertoire or not play. We’ve seen this bunches already with Bob. If they don’t fit the system, they don’t play. It doesn’t matter the talent, he wants guys who’ll play his game. That’s a point we can criticize, but that’s the way he does it.

    Was that clearer, or am I totally misreading things?

  19. 1. Not even close to more proven. Cunningham is the third all time leading scorer EJ isn’t even in the top 20 in MLS. if one person has proven himself in MLS it’s Cunningham.
    2. Moving to Europe is useless if you aren’t good enough to play. He’s not and doesn’t play. and doesn’t score in europe often at all.
    3. EJ’s per game strike rate is not exactly stellar. and EJ is clearly out of form at club and Cunningham is clearly in form for his club

  20. Ives…c’mon left because of personal matters??? Whats the real story here? Did “El Gringo” Finally figure out Bradley doesn’t like him, or is going to start someone else other than him?

  21. I think it’s because he basically did what the United States was doing the whole game: hold possession. He didn’t stand out, but give it to him for at least helping keep the rhythm. I think he’ll be a bit more noticeable and useful against a team where you’ll take any time on the ball you can get. I’m dissappointed that he decided to turn down those European options, as a move to a club overseas could have improved his skills and molded him into the Reyna type of player we’ve been missing for a while now.


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