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Who should the USA start vs. Canada?

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The U.S. men's national team kicks off its Gold Cup on Tuesday against Canada, and with the painful memory of Saturday's 4-0 friendly loss to Spain still fresh, there is plenty of speculation about just which 11 players Bob Bradley will turn to in the Gold Cup opener on Tuesday night in Detroit.

Top veterans such as Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley and Steve Cherundolo are locks to start, but there are other positions which still raise questions. Will it be Jermaine Jones or Maurice Edu in central midfield? Will Bob Bradley go with a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1, and if it's a 4-4-2 will Bradley turn to teen striker Juan Agudelo? Will Oguchi Onyewu get the nod in central defense, or will Bradley go with a Goodson-Bocanegra pairing in the middle?

Here's a look at a lineup we could see the USA field against Canada:



Some quick thoughts:

Just as a reminder, this is the lineup I can see Bob Bradley starting, not necessarily the lineup I would use. Would my lineup be different? Probably not, though I might be tempted to give Eric Lichaj the start at left back, with Carlos Bocanegra pairing with Clarence Goodson in central defense.

Onyewu looked shaky against Spain, so a Bocanegra-Goodson central defense with Jonathan Bornstein at left back isn't out of the realm of possibility. Tim Ream and Eric Lichaj seem like long shots to play vs. Canada. Bradley rates Ream highly, but the fact he went 90 minutes makes it seem unlikely the Red Bulls defender gets the start.

The toughest toss-up is between Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones, and we go with Jones because he looked better overall in the three most recent friendlies, though it can be argued that Edu looked better against Spain than Jones did.

For those asking why Clint Dempsey doesn't get moved up top, he is needed on the flank more than up top, because the reality is the roster just doesn't have quality wing options.


What do you think of this lineup? Which lineup would you like to see take on Canada?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Awful on the wing. Ok when he was played centrally. I’m not some Kljestan fan boy. To be honest I used to be (still am sometimes) a Kljestan hater.

  2. I’d like to see Ream in for Dolo and Dolo in for Clint and Clint in for Altidore. I think Dolo would be a great AM.

  3. I would rather see a 6’1 manchild in the right place at the right time, someone who can battle and overpower defenders and head the ball if necessary. Adu is a 5’8 wunderkind whose value to the USMNT is as a creative #10 playmaker. Unfortuately he has yet to prove he can do this consistently.

  4. I guess I was confused when you said “All the consistent goal scorers ….. have had one thing in common.”

    I took that to mean that “all the consistent goal scorers… have had one thing in common”

    I’ve only seen highlights of Best, I saw Pele play in NASL when he was way past his prime. I watch Messi as much as possible.

    I’ve seen plenty of Crespo, Inzahgi, Van Nistelroy, and Chicharito (who I added for emphasis). I think that these last four players are quite different from Messi, Pele, and Best. They are classic poachers. The majority of their play is off the ball more than with it. That was the distinction I was trying to make. I’m never said Messi, Best, or Pele don’t make runs off the ball. But these three certainly provide a lot more than the poachers do.

  5. club did not release him as he is tired. word was out that Germany wanted him and he was going to see if that worked but his agent has just said that he was tired and needed rest but his allegiance is still with USA.

  6. If you watch Friday Night Lights you will know that Dolo looks just like the character Matt Saracen.

    Mayor of Hannover=Cherundolo=Matt Saracen

    But it’s a pretty obscure show, so I understand not catching the reference.

    For the record, I would have put “Der Buergemeister”.

  7. Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson both were hurt a lot last season. Dempsey played up top quite a bit during the first half of the EPL season. It’s not a stretch for him to play striker.

  8. can someone please tell me where Timothy Chandler is?

    I missed why he’s not on the roster and am I kinda freaking out right now

  9. 3-4-3 good for youth player development, not the formation for important games against good talent.

    (Unless it looks more like a 5-3-2 because the outside mids track back to play defense, not Donavon or Dempsey’s forte, but if they did, that would leave us with 3 backs and 5 defensive midfielders).

    Of course going forward it looks pretty good, but with only 3 backs (and not the world’s speediest at that) counter attacking looks too good for the opponents.

  10. It is a big step for Freddy if he figured out how to be at the right place at the right time. It could be dumb luck on one practice day, but if it is real, that is good.

    Now if he will improve his risk taking decisions…

  11. I’d like to see a 4-2-3-1 in the first half with Dolo, Gooch, Goodson, Boca, Dempsey, Jones, Edu, Baby Bradley (CAM), Donovan, and Jozy.

    I like Ream over Goodson but we’re not going to play him so soon. Maybe next match. I don’t think Gooch is done rocking. Canada is not going to burn him. Jones, Bradley, and Edu are all stellar professionals who have competed against quality talent that trumps anything Canada will have. I love me some Agudelo, but a seventeen year old benchwarmer for NYRB is not getting the start over studs at Aston Villa, Blackburn, and Rangers. Not happening.

    In the second half, if the 4-2-3-1 flops (which has happened for us in the past, sadly) we can sub out a center mid for Bedoya, and go 4-4-2 with Dempsey+Jozy up top and Bedoya on the wing.

  12. I agree. Altidore is hopeless.

    If he just showed some effort, I wouldn’t be so hard on him. But, you actually see him shy away from 50/50 balls! That drives me crazy. That has nothing to do with skill. It just means he is a wuss or a prima donna. Either way, we can’t have either of those.

  13. I say we do this:

    ———Dempsey— (False nine-ish)
    LD — Jones–MB90– Bedoya (LD/Bedoya can flip)

    I liked what I saw from Edu when we tried this…and

  14. I am sure that they will “try” and control the midfield. That will help slow down the good attackers that Mexico has. You can’t just let them run free and setup shop near the box constantly. Our defense is not nearly as good as what it has been in the past. On US soil, generally, the possession is not as lop-sided as it is when they play in Azteca. With that said,I am sure that we will still be looking at 60%+ for Mexico. The key will be for Jones, Bradley, and/or Edu to “try” and slow them down through the midfield. They have the capability to cause Mexico problems and frustrate them. Of course this is all a big assumption anyway . . . too many games to be played for we get to the presumed final.

  15. When Adu played for the USMNT and for the youth teams, he did pull off some neat plays that very few players can do.

    But, he consistently exhibited a lack of judgement wherein he undertook a risky 1v several in spots and at times where loss of possession was dangerous to the team. Also, he had trouble showing for the ball when his teammates needed his help. He was worse in both those categories than Jozy, who at least tried to play simply to get out of trouble (even if he failed at it too often). He is not as strong as Jozy and at least in past games was too easy to knock off the ball when it came to physical challenges.

    Those are the reasons professional coaches have had a hard time finding a way to use him.

  16. I agree, either this or Ream in the middle and Boca out wide.

    Against most opponents in the Gold Cup, we will have possession, and will push forward to score while the opponents bunker and counter. (Of course Mexico will be an exception.) I think that at one center back should be one with the most speed (Ream, Goodson, Onweyu?) should be in there for the inevitable footraces when the US gets caught pushing up. the other centerback needs to be a pure defender (Boca, Onweyu, Goodson) who can read the situation and minimize the number of footraces we have against the likes of Dane Richards (should Jamaica be so lucky to met us).

  17. Wondo lead the MLS in scoring last year and (at least prior to missing this weekend’s game) is currently in third place. As others have said, he may not be the most imposing athletic talent, but he has learned to score goals against MLS competition and that is the level he will be facing in all but the Mexico game.

    Agudelo is still a kid and is still learning.

    Altidore did score the most goals in WC qualifying, more recently he has struggled, that is something that happens to good athletes who score some goals but have not yet developed the guile to get open when the other team realizes that they need to supply pressure to them.

    The more I think about it, the more I think it will be Altidore and Wondo to start up top.

  18. The two main reasons this formation hasn’t worked for us are:

    1) we haven’t started the correct player at the attacking midfield spot. You need to use someone like a Holden, Adu, Feilhaber etc to play in this role.

    2) you have to have a target forward up top to hold the ball up and distribute to the wings or out to any CMs running up the channels – we all know we don’t have any target forwards who can be effective at the international level. Altidore for all his size does not play this way very well. Altidore is at his best when he plays next to a target forward or next to a faster forward who pulls defenders out to the wings which leaves space for Altidore.

  19. I think it will be Altidore and Wondo up top, simply because Agudelo played the whole game. I would also not be surprised to see either Bornstein or Lichaj (or each for a half) at left back and Boca and Goodson in the middle.

    I was fairly disappointed by Onweyu’s performance vs Spain and in recent USMNT games; I surmise that so was Bradley. A lineup that does not include him is a real possibility. Whether that 4th back is Ream, J.B. or Lichaj is a puzzle.

  20. Davies is nursing a hamstring injury, which isn’t exactly re-issuring for a speed demon. Plus Wondo has been in great form for over a year now, better than any other forward in the pool.

    Mix Diskerud does the same things that Bedoya, Feilhaber, and Adu all do – how many center attacking mids do you we need exactly. I’m not crazy about Rogers as a player neither – but I do agree that we need at least one natural true winger on the side – the only shame is that we don’t have that many who are any good at the moment.

    I won’t argue the CB issue because we can go in circles about that. Gooch and Bornstein have the experience, but one looks like he is on the downturn of his career and the other is inconsistent. DeMerit is nursing injuries and just recently came back to playing for the Whitecaps and Whitbread seems to pick up real untimely injuries whenever he rounds into good form and is about to be called up. We don’t have that many options for LB, so I don’t get worked up over Bornstein, but I can see your point about Onyewu.

    Either way, I don’t think these decisions are as open and shut as you make them out to be.

  21. You really doubt the commitment of Donovan, Cherundolo, and Bocanegra? Whatever you have to say about Donovan, he is the Mexecutioner so even if he sleepwalks through the other games(which I doubt), he’ll show up big if we make the finals. Cherundolo always fights hard, and was one of the bright spots in a lost-cause second half against Spain. Boca is captain for a reason: I don’t doubt his heart at all. In fact, I’m sure Boca and Cherundolo appreciate that this may be their last chance for Nats glory. They have a role to play in qualifying but their time will be past by the next Confed Cup and definitely by the next World Cup.

  22. Also, something to keep in mind, Bedoya isn’t really a outside/wing midfielder. At Orebro, where he has been playing very well, he has been used as a more centrally located attacking mid. Which is probably why he hasn’t looked the greatest while playing for the USMNT.

  23. Against the midgets in CONCACAF, Wondo is a good option. Unfortunately, he’s limited athletically — jumps like a white guy and isn’t very fast. Still, I think he could be very effective in this tournament. Canada isn’t loaded with great athletes, either. Wondo could do good work there. Save Agudelo as a sub — and maybe start him against Guadeloupe and Panama, where their defensive weaknesses can be exploited by a guy like Agudelo.

    Also — Gooch really did look horrible against Spain. He’s reduced to being a bystander. I’d start Goodson and Boca in the middle for now (maybe use Ream against Panama or Guadeloupe) and bring on Bornstein at left back, for now — using Lichaj there in a later match.

  24. 4-4-2, bread and butter of US soccer.


    Bedoya (for whatever striker looks worse @ 65-70 min, push Duece up top
    Edu for Jones @ 75 min
    Wondo for other starting striker@ 80 min

  25. Ive read the majority of posts on Ives article, and I believe much of the arguing comes from the fact that BB has chosen another mind boggling squad! How do you choose Robbie Rogers of Mikel Diskerud…Or Oneywu/Bornstein over Whitbread/Demerit…or Wondolowski over Davies? Ive said it for years, that BB’s first team choices are suspect at best! I feel he ignores good young American players abroad! The USMNT struggles to score goals, but he refuses to think outside the box and give real chances to strikers like Starikov, Grella, etc…We struggle with possession, but he leaves Torres off the roster, outside defender is a need position, but he lets his German counterparts push him around in regards to Timothy Chandler (Just think if Klinsmann was the coach!!!!)…what about Frank Simek?? I love our national team, and want them to win every game, but there’s a part of me that wants them to fail in the Gold Cup….for the future and greater good of the program!!


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