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Who should the USA start vs. El Salvador?

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The U.S. men's national team will play its second match of 2010 in less than a week against El Salvador, and while the match is carrying much less buzz than future matches against the Netherlands, Turkey and the Czech Republic, it is important in its own right.

Some fans think the match is pointless. At least a few of the more cynical U.S. fans, particularly the ones who live on a steady diet of European soccer and loathe MLS, believe it's a waste of time, but the reality is that it has much more value than some want to realize.

My latest Fox Soccer piece goes into detail about next week's friendly, and why it matters. In short, the match is the last good chance some MLS standouts have to impress Bob Bradley and keep themselves in the race for a World Cup roster spot.

So what kind of lineup can we expect to see from the current U.S. squad in camp? Here is a lineup we could see taking the field in Tampa on Wednesday:

USA Projected Lineup vs. El Salvador





Some thoughts:

Might seem strange to have both Casey and Ching paired together, but something tells me we could see them as a tandem. If Bradley goes with a target forward-speed forward combo, I'll give the edge to a Ching-Findley pairing. (On second thought, I think we're more likely to see two pairings, one in each half, like Ching-Findley and Casey-Cunningham.)

McCarty as a starter might surprise, but he did get some playing time in the November friendlies. Kljestan in a central role is very possible.

The defense seems easy enough to project, can't imagine anyone but this group starting.

So what lineup would I like to see? Here's a starting XI I would put together:





Geoff Cameron was a standout centerback in MLS last season, but many (including Houston coach Dom Kinnear) believe right wing could be his best position on the international level. Whether he plays on the right, or centrally with Kljestan on the right, I would be interested in seeing this combination.

Chris Pontius is someone who needs to get a look, but I doubt he's going to get a start at this point.

Orozco doesn't have Wynne's speed but Wynne's poor positioning and inability to read the game well often negates his speed. Whether it's Orozco or even converted midfielder Brad Evans, it's time to somebody else on the right flank.


What lineup would you like to see the USA field against El Salvador? Will you be watching the match? Who do you see having a big game?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’d like to see:


  2. Because the other option at left back is, umm…yeah. A lot of us would like to see Spector there but that doesn’t seem likely to happen as we haven’t seen it yet.

    And while I’m among Bornstein’s critics he’s become less of a liability than he used to be, his play in recent qualifiers has been much more consistent.

  3. Not that I’m entirely on the We Want Bob Train, but he has to make decisions about who is on the team or not right now/up to the world cup.

    It our talent pool that puts him in that position. If everyone is healthy will still have a couple of question marks and the bench could be any number of players. No one steps up and makes themselves an unquestionable selection. Just a thought.

  4. Agreed, our young guys for 2014 excite me.

    Imagining Altidore, Davies, Holden, Edu, Bradley, Spector, Adu, Cooper, Cameron, Rogers, and Guzan with another four years of experience combined with a few veterans like Donovan, Dempsey, Onyewu, and Howard gives me a team to REALLY look forward to.

  5. Yes I am Erik733. This isn’t even the full national team so I don’t know what you’re freaking out about. It’s not about Kljestan and it’s not about Wynne and it’s not about coulda woulda shoulda, It’s about depth. If we can build depth, we have a chance at the World Cup. If we can have players who have the same kind of impact off the bench as Benny we have a chance at getting deep at South Africa. Guys like Kljestan and Wynne are ones who bring that kind of ability off the bench, although Wynne, being a defender, probably won’t be a sub but more like insurance for injuries. Remember how against Italy Kljestan came off the bench and had that swerving blast that nearly tied the game? THAT’S what he’s capable of, THAT’S the kind of depth that will win/tie games for us, and THAT’S what Bob Bradley is trying to get out of these players. What great, World Cup bound talent is Bradley canceling out by bring in Kljestan for a game like this anyways?

  6. Why is Sacha Kljestan considered for starting in this match? Mark my words, the Salvadorian wingers will eat him alive, just like they did Hejduk in El Salvador for the qualifier.

    Cristian Castillo, Rodolfo Zelaya and Julio Martinez played in Mexico’s 2nd division Leon, now Martinez is with De Los Cobos at Chicago Fire, Castillo’s in DC and if I’m not mistaken Osael Romero just signed with Chivas USA.

    Also Eliseo Quintanilla plays in Cypres. Those guys are looking forward to establishing themselves for the next 4 year cycle which includes Gold Cup next year and then WC 2014 qualifying.

    If they cannot show something against these guys (Kljestan, Beckerman, Rogers, Goodson, Marshall, McCarty, Casey) just stop with the fringe MLS players!

    These guys can barely keep up with MLS, what makes anyone think they can succeed at CONCACAF international level, let alone SA?

  7. If our depth sucks so bad then why haven’t we started bleeding in the youth? What’s worse – A. having backups you know won’t do anything so there’s no use in playing them so we delay our subs or B. having backups who are projected to be starters in a couple years so we might as well break the ponies in now and maybe get a spark from a youthful player trying to show off to the world? I know I’d pick B.

    And having poor depth is no excuse. Turkey made it to the semis of Euros with a bench worse than ours. I wouldn’t say the Russians have any big advantage over us with their bench and they too made the semis. Greece won Euros with a crap team. S. Korea made it to the semis of the WC with a team of our stature.

    I hear excuses from fans but the fact is our coach is not a tactician. He’s not a winner when it comes to getting down and dirty.

    We can’t “park the bus” to drag out a win because our players can’t seal up the middle. We can’t play a holding game because our players don’t seem to be on the same wave length hence simple passes going astray. Both of those tactics come down squarely on the coaches shoulders to get his team in a position where they can do it. You play to win and winning isn’t always pretty but a win is always down to tactics.

  8. You aren’t going to find “meshing” in team full of subs. Subs meshing with each other are not what we need. As subs we need impact players. Players who can hold the ball up, are fast to break through tired defenses; players who can controls games, who can be a wall in the middle to stop attacks from building.

    This is a glorified MLS American all-star team and we will learn nothing from it. Only player I’m interested in is Findley who I think can take the fourth spot.

  9. I believe we may see Bornstein in central defense again. He has played there with Chivas, and played there (out of necessity) with the Nats in January. He acquitted himself well both with club and country in that role.

    It could do wonders for flexibility if he can hold his own there. That gives you three outside backs (Spector, Bocanegra and Bornstein) that could play in the center, and not force Bradley to bring Marshall, Califf, Conrad or Goodson to SA, all of whom have been shaky at times. It could allow for another midfielder, a position of relative depth, to make the trip instead.

  10. Isaac, that may just be the problem…against other MLS players they may look GREAT in practice…thats fine for playing in the MLS but Bradley insists that these guys can play at the International level and when we see they can’t keep up with even the concacaf teams, I beg to differ. I don’t care who Bradley brings to camp but to continue to give the same players another chance and they keep failing…we might be missing that player who deserves to be on the WC roster..

  11. Fair enough although I’ll maintain that in 5 months before the World Cup, nothing else matters.

    We’re kinda beating a dead horse. I see your point but I don’t want to watch another thing like Honduras. That was embarrassing to the US Soccer nation. When a team starts losing in bunches it starts sinking in. Slovakia, Denmark, Honduras, now El Salvador. No sporting team wants to start getting used to losing.

  12. I think anytime these players get to play for the USMNT, a truly rare experience, it is a great experience that they can draw on in the future and will be better players for it.

  13. Coach Bob Bradley will likely be coaching (and already has many times) Bornstein, Ching, and Casey in some big games coming up…Rogers and Sacha also have experience in big games, Orozco and Marshall and Gonzalez and who knows who else may be in big games in teh future.

  14. holy toledo! are you really defending Kljestan and Wynne as worthy of the
    national team? clearly youve drank the same kool-aid as the other guy
    questioning my post. this is exactly why our national team will continue
    to be a stagnant operation. the continued reliance on could have, should
    have beens.

  15. There are plenty of reasons for Bob Bradley to be making decisions 4 months until the world cup right up until they take off on the plane.

    Injuries, form, attitude and chemistry (meshing)…the goal is to take the best players in the month of June to South Africa, not the best players in the month of February. 4 months is a long time in football, and lots of things can happen. What if more injuries happen and we actually must consider some of these fringe players, I’ll be happy they got to look at them this game.

    What if some stars completely fall out of form, or get in another car wreck god forbid….

    4 years from now, who the hell knows what kind of team we will have!

  16. Maybe they’re not now, but Kljestan at least used to be and Wynne has the potential to be. That’s what this camp is about; harnessing the potential players, letting them know what the coach wants out of them and what it takes to get a spot on the team, letting them,potentially, play, evaluating their performance, and sending them home to improve further.

  17. I think he’s wrong; I know earlier I said that Bradley’s subs aren’t a huge knock on him, but it would certainly help to have players that will have as big an impact off the bench as Benny Feilhaber did against Spain and Trindad and Tobago. Guys who provide a spark of energy but also bring the tactical and technical ability to take advantage of tiring teams.

  18. Considering the fact that we were missing one of our best defensive midfielders that game(Bradley) I’m not shocked the second half defensive performance was poor. Bradley is known for a 90 minute intesity and work rate. That’s not down to Bob Bradley’s coaching. That’s down to poor depth, and poor refereeing on Larrionda’s part. The depth on this national team is poor, and Bradley can’t do anything about that. Once Feilhaber had to fill Bradley’s role in the midfield, there was nobody else healthy or in form to come off the bench and stimulate the team the way Feilhaber did in the second half against Spain. So even if the substitutions are late or are simply poor players, the guys who are starting do make a difference as well. We have guys like Bradley, Davies, Landon, and Clark who all can affect the game for a straight 90 minutes. All but one(Bradley) had an excellent game final and I wouldn’t bet against him doing well if Larrionda had shoved his red up his rump.

  19. I see you’re point Deuce but I would say that the chemistry doesn’t matter because no three of these guys will see the field in a serious game anyways. But that’s really just my low opinion of this particular group of players.

    Cheers folks, good conversation!

  20. Well put, Aaron. No harm (as A.S. mentions below) in playing the game.

    I still maintain that as a fan or as an impartial observer of the team, there is little useful in this game. Everybody knows the pool of 4 players in this game that could make the roster.

    Since the game is a friendly against ‘weak’ opposition, you can’t even evaluate how a defender might handle a sophisticated attack or great pace, etc. Same thing for somebody like Findley. If he runs by Salvador defenders, who cares (besides the defender and his Mom who may be watching).

    In any case, I’ll tape it in case I hear something interesting happens.


  21. Ives you really think it’s his to lose??

    I would say Boca and Spector are ahead of him and deservedly so on the left side. Our best centerback pairing has been Gooch and DeMerit which leaves Boca to play LB.

    Bornstein has been found out too many times in ’09 and ’10 to be a starter. I would think he should be afraid he won’t go if Castillo starts forcing his way in. Couple that with Beasley capable of it as well (worst case scenario) and Bornstein is anything but.

    I would say out of all the possible starters and subs, his spot is under the most watch.

  22. It does when the subs you make impact the tactics your team is playing. Against Brazil there was no Plan B. Plan A went fantastically for the first half and when it fell apart in the second, we froze. We didn’t know how to turn the team into a defensive strong hold. We didn’t know how to control the ball. And we certainly did not know how to shut down their key playmakers in the middle.

    A sub shouldn’t be a replacement (injuries withstanding) it should be a tactical change. Up by 2, you throw on a defensive player when you realize another goal is unlikely and the midfield is crumbling. Down by 2 you throw in a striker to change the game.

    Bob delays his decisions far too long and they cost us. You need a decisive coach who is able to read the game 10 minutes from now. You know after 5 shots on goal and the team looking afraid, a goal is coming without a change.

  23. I don’t think any time the coaches and the players (current 3rd string possible future world beaters) get a chance to go through a camp, get to build chemistry on and off the field, get to play a game, and get invaluable experience is a waste of time… I wish the nats had more games a year so they could be even tighter knit crew….you never know, one of these guys may blow it up in a couple years…

  24. The only people I think should be called in from this group for the World Cup are Ching, Bornstein, and Marshall-Marshall as the 7th/8th defender.

    On the Radar:
    Orozco if he looks like he is better than Bornstein or Pearce
    Casey will be called in for the Netherlands, and maybe for the 4th spot of the World Cup if Adu or Beasley don’t snatch his place as the 4th striker.
    Rogers, again if Adu or Beasley don’t yank it away from him.

    I am looking forward to seeing Gonzalez play though.

  25. Will Edgar Gonzalez get a chance to play LB before World Cup rosters are selected? Are we resigned to having Bornstein as our starter for the World Cup? Boca is too slow for LB and doesn’t contribute going forward other than on set pieces, and he will probably be needed at CB. And although Spector has been playing LB for Hammers, he’s better on the right (with Cherundolo hurt we need him there anyway).

    (SBI- We won’t be seeing Gonzalez at LB before WC rosters are selected, so it’s looking less and less likely that he’ll be selected at all. At this point it’s probably Bornstein’s spot to lose.)

  26. Ives, in response to your headline question, none of these players “should” start against EL Salvador with the exception of Bornstein. But I guess since they have to field a team, your lineup is as good as any…
    Not trying to sound too negative, I feel strongly that few, if any, of these players have anything meaningful to contribute to the final WC roster and this game is just an exercise in self-flagellation.
    But then again maybe we’re in for some pleasant surprises from a few determined individuals.

  27. The whole thing about the timing of Bob’s subs really isn’t that great of a knock on him. Bringing on Torres, or Kljestan, or Beasley, Bornstein, won’t cancel out bringing Dani Alves coming on for Brazil.

  28. As a dynamo fan who’s watched Cameron since we drafted him, he has the potential to do great things. Kinnear kept putting challenges in front of him (right-mid, center-mid, outside-back, center-back) and in every game he performed flawlessly in the states and abroad in CONCACAF Champions League. I want to see Bradley challenge Cameron in the same way. Not to say he’s ready yet, but a versatile player like Cameron is ideal for a World Cup squad.

  29. My two cents…







    Things to learn from the game:

    1. Can Findley contribute at this level

    2. Can any fringe players in midfield step up in case injury woes continue, (i.e. who gets called up if no Clark, Edu, Feilhaber, Dempsey, Jermaine Jones-aka Kaiser Soze)

    3. Who is last defender taken, Marshall v. Goodson

    I stronly agree with Ives’ story…this game does matter and will help determine who is going to SA…

  30. Since the intent of this match is to give MLS Fringe players a run out and attempt to find prospective players for the 2014 WCQ the Player Pool would hope to see something along the following:





    Subs: Pearce LB, Orozco LCB, Gonzalez CB, Pontius LM, McCarty CM, (pushing Cameron to RM), Cunningham.

    Leave Casey on the Bench, the Bus, the Hotel, or Home!

  31. To me, the thing that we, as fans, can’t come to terms with is that Coach Bob’s job is not to win friendlies – it is to prepare the team to show up and play at a high level in international tournaments. Based on that fact, he also needs to have a process with which to choose the last handful of roster spots because, as this year continues to show us, injuries happen.

  32. I disagree, this midfield possesses some of the better passers/distributors in the MLS. Beckerman took RSL to MLS Cup, McCarty excelled in a deep-lying midfield role for FC Dallas, and Davis, should he play, played excellently for Houston from the left.

  33. I hate exaggerated comments like this. It’s really not my place to say anything, but how is Wynne going to single-handedly cause a full-blown loss to any team?

  34. It’s not like we’ve never seen somebody have a lackluster or poor perfmance one day and comeback to do well the next game. Freddy Adu didn’t do much of anything against South Korea in the U20 World Cup and then came back to kick butt against Poland with a hat trick and an assist and two assists against Brazil.

  35. My one qualm about Bob’s tactics during these “preparation” friendlies (and in real games) is his lack of subbing until the last minute. When you bring a new guy from Mexico into Europe who has way more talent then the left back we had (Bornstein) and you give him 15 minutes – you’re not really giving him a chance (and that is Castillo) especially in a game where the result doesn’t matter. He can’t play BUT those who sit on the bench against ES (your Omar’s, Pontius’, etc) who deserve a run out will be lucky to get 15 minutes. With the amount of subs at our call, we should be giving the mega fringe players (McCarty) 45 minutes and sub them at the half IF they must be played to begin with.

  36. Are you in camp? Are you the coach? Are you watching these guys play day in and day out? Do you get to see their on/off field behavior? If so, continue. If not, then I have to say that you would have no idea as to whether or not Rogers, Kljestan or Wynne are doing better than the players you want to see in this camp or on the field. By the by, you forgot to mention WHO you want to see, so the whole thing is really a moot point…

  37. I think you missed my point. That’s why he (Orozco) IS available and Castillo is not. I was asking “seriously” what other Mexlcan-American he might be referring to, i.e. that Bob B could have called in to this camp.

  38. Couldn’t agree more. If Bob is still making decisions 4 months before the WC we are really in trouble. He should have his plan B and C already laid out and no more shuffling. Play those who are going, ax those who aren’t, and fill the rest with those who will be there in 4 years.

  39. I would go with this:







    I think this midfield will do a better job of keeping possession and controlling the game. I would go with McCarty over Kljestan at the moment because he is in better form and did a better job of helping the USA keep the ball. Moreover, it allows Beckerman to cover ground on both sides of the ball. I’m actually just tad more interested in seeing Evans at right back than I am Wynne or Orozco. He doesn’t have the pace, size or physical ability that Wynne or Orozco has, but he’s got good soccer IQ, crossing ability, decent tackler, and a hard worker. It’ll be interesting to see what Bradley goes with.

  40. I couldn’t agree more! The wee Mc again in the middle? He’s had loads of chances and has done squat.

    I’m going to have to refresh my stance from last time around, and one that got me some flak, this must be a game where we start bleeding more youth! Pontius is a future starter, Wallace is a bright prospect, Orozco could be, etc, etc. These fringe players you think are so important to give a last chance are players who would be 4th-6th stringers at best in SA. If you haven’t locked down a spot yet, 4 months before SA isn’t going to change a thing. If we are still really trying to figure things out at this point, we’ll suffer.

    This friendly is more about showcasing MLS than it is preparing the national team. We’re missing at least 3/4s of our starters and half of the bench. Bob should be playing every second stringer and the rest should be 23 and under.

  41. I think you went in a big circle and hopefully realized why the game does matter, to an extent.

    It’s not like we’re pulling guys away from Europe (which we couldn’t do anyways), so what’s the harm in giving these guys a run out?

    What other game could the U.S. play on February 24th that would be astronomically more meaningful? …. That’s why this game makes sense. The point is to find maybe 4, 5 or 6 guys that can push the rest to step their game up. Not find our next star. With a little perspective it makes sense.


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