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Who should Klinsmann call up vs. Italy? (Forwards)


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The lack of reliable options at forward makes Jurgen Klinsmann's decision for which strikers to bring to Genoa for the match against Italy on Feb. 29 a pretty basic exercise.

With a pair of entrenched players at the position and Klinsmann potentially opting for a one-man forward line anyway, he won't be pressed into bringing a slew of players to compete for minutes up top against the Azzurri. The concurrent U.S. Under-23 camp will prevent a pair of young strikers from being considered for selection as well, narrowing Klinsmann's choices even more.

So who should Klinsmann call in to man the front line against the Italians? Here's who we think should get the call (If you didn't get a chance to see them yet or just want to refresh your memory, reference back to our picks for defenders and goalkeepers and midfielders):


Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle

Dempsey has been an absolute beast for Fulham and is currently riding the greatest run of form in his career. With 16 goals in all competitions (17 if his blast that led to an own goal against Stoke City ever gets overturned), Dempsey is in the midst of putting together the greatest season abroad by an American.

Altidore's play has tailed off a bit with AZ Alkmaar, evidenced by his being dropped to the bench, but he is still a couple games removed from a two-goal outing as a substitute. He has demonstrated an improved first touch and smarter off-ball runs while improving as a player overall this season, one in which he has scored 11 goals.

Altidore up top with Dempsey either next to him, withdrawn in a supporting role or playing even further back in a central midfield role behind him seems to suit the United States the best, and they'll likely comprise the front line in one way or another. The only thing up for debate is how Klinsmann will deploy them. 

One wrinkle Klinsmann could throw into the mix is if he opts to use Dempsey alone up top in a 4-5-1 with an attacking central midfielder behind him while leaving Altidore on the bench, but that is something that he has not explored yet, and it would not necessarily extract the most out of Dempsey's skill set. 

For the depth spot, Klinsmann has shown past preference to Buddle over someone like a Herculez Gomez, and that was when Gomez was on fire while playing and scoring for Estudiantes Tecos. Now in a reserve role for Santos Laguna, Gomez is no closer to being called back up.

Despite being out of action while on leave from FC Ingolstadt, Buddle finds himself back in a comfortable club situation with the Los Angeles Galaxy, and he should be able to provide ample depth for a cameo in this one-game scenario. Keep in mind that he earned the start in the most recent "A"-team friendly and scored against Slovenia with the United States operating out of a 4-4-2. Wingers Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley (if called up) could be used as complementary speed options in forward roles if need be as well.

In terms of the younger strikers in the pool, Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury have already been included in the Under-23 training camp, which means they won't be joining the senior team in Italy. Nobody else from the U.S. January camp, such as Chris Wondolowski or C.J. Sapong, did anything to wow Klinsmann into considering them for this trip, either.


Which forwards do you think Klinsmann should call up? Do you think the USMNT should operate with two forwards up top? Just one? What do you think is Dempsey's best role for the national team?  

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m sure it will be but when have we ever played out on the wings? Maybe get a different attacking mid since I guess Torres isn’t one, I assumed incorrectly. I like all the triangles and interchanges this creates. Especially given Klinsis desire to play the ball forward than bomb it forward.

  2. If Davies gets more minutes today; I would consider calling him up as well. He has been training regularly with Sochaux the past two months whereas Buddle has been all over the place trialing. Davies has seen first team minutes adn will probably see more today. Buddle hasn’t played in a significany game since november. I think Buddle will get called-up, and Davies deserves to get called-up as well.

    Oh and Torres is a Regista.

  3. Oh boy. ‘Dolo was one of our top 3 players at the World Cup. He is a foreigner that has captained a good Bundesliga side for some time now. Yes he had a poor run of form recently, but so does every player. I dont buy into all this “age” problem. Chandler is rising, but still has a ways to go to catch Dolo at right back.

  4. I personally think Buddle is deserved, and an intelligent player. I’m okay with him in there. . . he won’t be in the mix up in 2014, I don’t think.

  5. I think it’s the idea ratio. Anyone who has watched European football knows that the MLS doesn’t compare to say, Germany or England, Italy, even Portugal, and certainly not Holland. So, yeah, it makes sense. The best Americans WILL continue to play in Europe, other than the Donovan LA types (nothing agains LD – I don’t blame him a bit for his decisions).

  6. Dembele, for me, is better than all of our midfielders in terms of making things happen and holding the ball. He’s what Benny would be if Benny was slightly bigger, and much more refined.

  7. Take that diamond and turn in more into a bucket and I’m down.

    Johnson and Donovan high up on the wings, with Torres and Bradley sitting deeper. Allow Torres to distribute from deep, makes a few late runs into the box, maybe test the keeper from distance (in a perfect world).

    Bradley stays back and breaks up play, while providing solid distribution to the wings, good control of tempo and some strong service to the forwards (I really want to see him try more high risk, high reward passes).

    Will this formation be to narrow, given Donovan’s tendency to tuck in centrally?

  8. Wow he 1 freaking goal more than Buddle when he got streaky and that San Jose team in 2010 was a playoff team that made it to Conference Final knocking off NY, so they weren’t THAT bad, Bobby Convey had a great year and Wondo reaped the benefits. Buddle did it much less games after all the time he missed in the summer with the USMNT…

    Wondolowski last played a game around October 29th when the last games for MLS teams were played aside from LA vs Houston who played on Sunday Oct 30th. Buddle played until December and I recall him getting 13 minutes vs France and a start vs Slovenia in which he opened the score….

    How did Wondo play more than Buddle recently? The 2 US games? Buddle had 2 in November and had some club games after Wondo’s last MLS game…

  9. I’ve watched a fair number of Gringo’s games for Pachuca and as best as I can tell he is sort of a sweeper in front of the backline tidying up and getting the ball the the guys who will make that attacking pass or move.

    US fans don’t seem to get that just because Gringo is slick on the ball it doesn’t mean he has an offensive bone in his body. The man is not Xabi Alonso, at least not at this point.

    Torres is not a #10; he is not creative offensively.

  10. we already saw the average MLS “stars” play an average game against venezuela.. bearly scraping a win..

    we need to try out some of the europeans, I know it seems bad to do this, but we have to see if any of them have talent and take advantage of that, the goal is to set up the top team possible, if a few players are euros it is fine with me, but we can’t just play them cus they are euros, we need to test and figure out which ones are good

  11. Buddle has not played for a while. Wondo has. Wondo has scored more in the same league as Buddle while playing for a team that is not the caliber of the Galaxy. It is hard to see how Buddle would be an obvious choice over Wondo.

  12. 4-2-3-1 with Klejsten and Bradley as the 2 Central midfielders, Beasley, Dempsey, and Donovan as the 3 attacking midfielders, and Jozy up top.

  13. To those who were earlier calling for Torres as a central midfielder…at attacking midfield maybe. To choose him as a holding mid over Bradley…I think not. Torres is a more technical player but the role of a DM is to cut out the balls that are headed to the forwards. I think many people don’t understand how well Bradley reads the game. Also, as a holding midfielder you won’t want to have a player who isn’t a ball winner. Torres as AM…maybe. Torres as a holding mid or box to box guy…don’t think so.

  14. Bradley is a fine player — one of our best. But he’s very limited as a passer of the ball.

    For his part, Torres has vision, technique, composure that none of our other central midfielders have.

    Bradley is a better tackler. But…the whole point is to keep the ball.

    Check this out as food for thought. Xabi Alonso on soccer in England:

    “At Liverpool I used to read the matchday programme and you’d read an interview with a lad from the youth team. They’d ask: age, heroes, strong points, etc. He’d reply: ‘Shooting and tackling’. I can’t get into my head that football development would educate tackling as a quality, something to learn, to teach, a characteristic of your play. How can that be a way of seeing the game? I just don’t understand football in those terms. Tackling is a [last] resort, and you will need it, but it isn’t a quality to aspire to, a definition. It’s hard to change because it’s so rooted in the English football culture, but I don’t understand it.”

  15. Not to mention Sapong isn’t exactly lighting up the score board in the “weak league”.

    If Buddle doesn’t deserve a call up b/c he can only score in MLS, why should Sapong get a call up when he doesn’t score in MLS?

  16. I think you guys are right on with the possible formations.

    As for Dolo, I think his days are numbered. Not because his skill is falling off faster than we’d like, but because it’s getting harder and harder to justify not putting TC on the right.

    Once Lichaj gets back to full form, or Shea shows he’s capable of holding down the left wing, I see either Lichaj or Johnson moving to LB and Chandler taking over RB.

    He’s just too good on both sides of the field to deny.

  17. I don’t like this formation b/c it’s designed for the two outside midfielders to come inside and the LB and RB to attack the wings. The only team I’ve seen use the diamond effectively was Chelsea when Essien/Makalelalaelaleaelae owned the DM and middle of the field, allowing Ashley Cole to play both ends.

    A.C. Milian uses a tighter diamond, but they famously don’t use wing players.

    We don’t have the players Chelsea had. We need Johnson and Donovan charging down the wings.

    I see more of a 4-4-1-1 with Bradley and Torres/Sacha in the middle.

  18. Yeah but with Agudelo, Bunbury and Boyd busy with the U-23s there’s not much of a choice here.

    Ives pointed that Gomez is not playing much and Klinsmann favors Buddle anway?


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