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USA v. Canada: The Pre-Match Tailgate (and who should the USMNT start?)

USMNTvsBrazil (Reuters)

The U.S. Men's National Team moves a step closer to the start of World Cup qualifying tonight in Toronto with a match against Canada (7pm, NBC Sports)  that will serve as the final tune-up before qualifying kicks off on Friday in Tampa.

The Americans will be looking to recover from last Wednesday's 4-1 loss to Brazil by beating a team they haven't lost to since 1985. The United States is unbeaten in 14 matches against Canada, having shut the team out in 11 of those meetings.

Here is my Fox Soccer preview on tonight's match, a match that should help Jurgen Klinsmann make some final decisions on the starting lineup he goes with when the USA takes on Antigua & Barbuda in qualifying on Friday.

Another piece you should check out is my Fox Soccer feature on 33-year-old defenders Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra, who remain top starting options despite their age.

Should we expect a full-strength side for the USA tonight? With Friday's qualifier a total of ten days after the Brazil match, it seems unlikely Klinsmann will rest any starters who are not carrying knocks. Steve Cherundolo left the Brazil match early and could be rested, but aside from that it would appear all hands are on deck tonight.

So what might tonight's USMNT lineup look like? Here is one possible lineup we could see:


If Jozy Altidore is fit enough to start he will start in Boyd's place. If Klinsmann has real doubts about Onyewu then look for Clarence Goodson to get the nod. What would be interesting to see is a Goodson-Onyewu tandem, or Goodson-Cameron tandem to see who really is ready to start alongside Carlos Bocanegra. I'm sure many fans don't want Onyewu anywhere near the lineup, but Klinsmann sounded like he was happy with Onyewu's second half against Brazil, so another start for him shouldn't come as a surprise.

What do you think of this starting lineup? Who is missing that you would like to see start? Who don't you want to see face Canada tonight?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m respectful of Gooch’s service but I’m not nostalgic.

    You can be as condescending as you’d like but it won’t help your feeble argument that somehow Gooch is anything other than what he is: horrible on the ball.

    I can’t make you see reality. That’s up to you.

  2. I think it’s worth trying out, given that we have a glut of central midfielders (all the guys on the roster plus Holden, D Williams, Kljestan, etc).

  3. I entirely agree that we cannot seriously expect either Boca or Dolo to be starting in Brazil. That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful in this stage of qualifying, or perhaps even in the Brazil squad.

    But they’re too easily exposed vs elite competition now, in 2 years, it won’t be better.

  4. That game was before his injury. I am basing my opinion on his body of work. He is not cut out to play in JK’s system. Unless you like a guy with no recovery speed, a concrete touch and a tendency to just kick it up the field. If he is not just blasting it up field, he is making useless and offense robbing passes with his fellow defenders. Typically this results in the other team becoming bored and pressuring our defense. This results in us A) losing the ball in a bad spot, or, B) Gooch blasting it upfield. Pick a good international team that wants him as their CB. Even better, look who was paired with Boca during our 5 game winning streak and close loss to France. Not Gooch. Tall, stiff, no touch, bad decision maker under pressure = your idea of the starting CB for us? He doesn’t work unless you bunker and need a tall guy to go after balls lobbed in past our packed defense. Add to that that he is already old. What you see now is as good as it gets. By the time the WC rolls around, he will be what…34? That ought to improve his speed, agility and touch.

  5. Yes,every single time either plays for USMNT. I’m not saying that I would take Beckerman over Jones if I owned a club. However, on a team that desperately needs someone to calm the team, hold posession, stay in position, and not get carded every single match. Yes I think Beckerman fills our current needs more than Jones. I also think that Bradley and Edu are both better options than Jones. Obviously Jurgen sees something in him too.

  6. Haven’t really seen this idea thrown around on these forums in a while but of Edu’s spell with the MNT at CB? He’s solid as a defender in midfield at international level and drew some good reviews previously (not stellar though).

    His distribution isn’t always international quality in midfield, but would it be ridiculous to throw out the notion that it’s good enough out of the back for JK?

    I like Ream’s distribution and Cameron has great instincts and athleticism. Just wondering if we have another option there. Edu is certainly a versatile player, but how versatile?

  7. You really think that Beckerman is a better player than Jones in any position at any time on any team? Do you ever think you might be a moron?

  8. It hasn’t translated to JK’s system in how many games? Beyond the Brazil game what performances are you basing your assessment on – the AC Milan v Club A game you mentioned a previous post? You realize that game was a)prior to JK’s being named head coach and implementing his system and b) one of his first games back after blowing a patellar tendon (do you know what that is?)

  9. Ok. Then watch highlights of goals we have given up and see where bradley was on the field when it happened. I’ll count the number of times he turns the ball over tonight.
    Torres is one of the few players on the team who actually holds posession and creates opportunities. He can’t do that at wing…well, i guess he could, but he didn’t.
    Jones is a liability. He has no discipline and brings nearly nothing to the field.
    Edu has very rarely played well for USMNT. Probably because he is misused, but nonetheless, he rarely plays well.
    Bradley, Edu, and Jones are being used as if they are the same type of player. Which they are more or less. Why do you need 3 of the same guy at once? It creates a scenario where none of them actually play their proper role.
    Beckerman makes every JK squad. Haters gonna hate, but he does play well for usmnt…and actually holds posession and is least likely to be caught out of position. Some players play better for their clubs, some play better for their nations, some do both.
    Boca and Dolo will be 35 years old by World Cup time.

  10. You’ve not watched many games, have you? Or are you just Mig22’s retarded brother? Watch for me on the TV tonight. That will be me, waving an American flag at BMO Field when Jones puts one in the back of the net.

  11. Not too much here I can agree with.

    1 – Edu playing a #6 behind Bradley and Jones works very well and frees everyone up to play to their strengths. Moving them out of this formation makes everyone worse.

    2 – Torres has class, but it only shines when he has players to combine with around him.

    3 – I hope you are right as it means we found stronger players. We desperately need depth and next generation players to bubble up. Johnson is killing it (looks like watching Alves play for Barca… very dangerous and incredibly unsettling for opposing teams to defend).

    4 – Shea is too hot and cold and tends to be too direct for this style. HE may mature to it, but not now. The work rate required for this style of play is something the US players are still not rising to. Jones and Bradley did against Scotland, but it takes a huge commitment (mental and physical).

    5 – Beckerman just doesn’t combine with the attack, great at back passes… and he still tends to lose the ball too much. I like him in MLS, but he just doesn’t have the class to play at this level.

    6 – I have been stunned by Bradley’s play all year. He was outstanding in Series A play and his play for USMNT in an attacking mid role was equally impressive. He is seeing the lanes and the passing progressions that players like Beckerman just can’t see. I’m a convert, he has put in the hard work, and it shows.

  12. Anyone know if univision will have a live stream of the game? Looks like they are currently streaming Mex-Brazil but it’s hard to navigate their site to find out the schedule. When is NBC sports gonna get their act together and start streaming these games? Great coverage, but really have dropped the ball with the online content both for MLS but also USMNT. No mention of soccer on their homescreen. Lame.

  13. I disagree with everyone of your points. Bradley giving away the ball and not tracking back? Those are things he’s improved in leaps and bounds. Playing Torres at left wing was idiotic? Alright, so I guess the Scotland didn’t matter. Same for #1. I don’t think you really know what you’re talking about.

  14. Agree with this, at least in the midfield and up front. Donovan belongs on the right, Dempsey should be cutting in as the second forward, and Torres needs to be there for possession.

  15. I don’t think Jones has looked capable for an instant of his USMNT career. He is a liability and a hot head and isn’t worth the risk.
    Sub Beckerman. Yes Beckerman. for jones. sub herc for boyd. great line up that will actually teach us somthing we don’t already know.

  16. IMHO:
    1.Playing Bradley, Edu, and Jones at the same time was moronic.
    2. Playing Torres at left wing was idiotic.
    3. Onyewu, Boca, and Dolo will be lucky to make the 2014 squad. Yah I said it. RED ALERT! No one seems to be addressing the aging of the regulars. Two years is a very long time.
    4. Cutting Shea was the right move. But seeing him or Rodgers on the left side instead of Torres would have been interesting.
    5. Beckerman consistently plays well for USMNT. What he does in MLS doesn’t matter.
    6. Bradley is playing more his old self, but he gets caught forward and gives up a goal far more often than he creates one. Also turns the ball over incessantly.

  17. I totally agree with your assessment of our slow and somewhat unskilled US backline. If you want to improve at the WC, you need younger and more technical defenders. I believe “tall & stiff” defenders & strikers handicap a team and then the midfielders have to do tooooooooo much to compensate & thus the entire team suffers against a good opponent.

  18. sorry but at the international stage, lichaj is lightyears more capable than parkhurst at RB. like what JK is doing, but still don’t get that one.

  19. ——–Boyd———-







    Would have been a perfect game to get Eric Lichaj acclimated to the system

  20. I think Altidore has to get a half (or at least 30mins). But I’m not sure he’s match-fit to start. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this.

    I agree we should go 4-4-2 to pummel Canada (and keep them from getting confidence) and to do the same to Antigua. WCQ is no place for ‘sportsmanship.’ If you can win big, you should.

    Agreed also that Guatemala on the road is the match to play the 4-3-3, with Edu at the rear and clog the MF. Not that I think we play that match for a draw. But given that’s an away match, they’re going to come out trying to play, and we should disrupt that and take away their early energy.

  21. Ives mentioned a knock on Dolo. That is the reason for putting him in his “potential” line up. I am with you on Gooch. I lost my love for him when I saw him play for ACM vs. Club A. in Atlanta. I realized, then, that he was not in the class of either team. Not quick enough and lacked the ball control required of a CB. That was before his injury. He is not as good as he was then. We need to use this time to work with Cameron and Ream and continue with Goodson. Dolo picking up a knock makes me want Lichaj on this roster even more. If JK wants a nasty attitude, he is your guy. Lichaj for Parkhurst and Ream for Gooch is my preference.

  22. If we were simply bunkering down and parking the bus, Gooch is one of the most viable options back there.

    However, the style Jurgen is implementing simply does not suit him or his reaction time.

    Sporting experience be damned, it hasn’t translated.

  23. I think your idea that the US should spend some time in the 4-4-2 is the correct one. Against Antigua, there really isn’t much point in stacking the midfield, and although it’s not really the sporting thing to do, I think we should try and run up the score against them so as to avoid goal difference complications later. We can go back to the Christmas tree against Guatemala.

    I’d be content with this lineup, although I would like to see Altidore at least get a half, so that he isn’t completely devoid of real match time prior to the Antigua game.

  24. Gooch is always interesting, because he can be one of the best or the worst. He had just recovered from an injury to finish up the season and it seems it takes him a little while to really find his feet after an injury. Which is the phase he is in, so he is struggling with confidence or fear of re-injury which is probably the same thing.

  25. Is a given to go with a 442?
    How about this attack:

  26. I will say the Gomez/Boyd combo is intriguing.

    Both play the position as true attackers/poachers.

    Haven’t seen that for awhile.

  27. I would like to see Gomez get the start tonight. He’s shown pretty well in the USMNT matches he’s been in. Plus he’s been successful in club play too. Throw him in there for 70-80 minutes and see what happens.

  28. I know it’s only Canada but Parkhurst looked like an orange cone.

    I don’t think it’s just Brazil/Neymar — his speed is just incredibly lacking and it’s such a drop off from Cherundolo.

    Also, couldn’t care less what the chorus is singing on this board, Gooch does not look good in a Nats jersey anymore and hasn’t in far too long.

    It’s time.


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