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USMNT Daily Update: Is Klinsmann ready to change his midfield preference?

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Remember when one of the bigger complaints about the U.S. Men’s National Team was the notion of the “Empty Bucket” and the fact that Bob Bradley preferred a central midfield of Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley? The argument back then was that it was too defensive a set-up, and the U.S. attack wasn’t as potent as it could be with that tandem in the middle.

Fast forward a year and a half and not only has the structure of the U.S. midfield still been built around Jones and Bradley, Klinsmann has taken things a step further by installing a deep-lying defensive midfielder to play behind Jones and Bradley. If the “Empty Bucket” was too defensive, some might call the newer version the “Empty Bus”.

The team’s attacking struggles suggest it might be time for Klinsmann to reconsider his preferences, and the U.S. coach appears ready to try out a central midfield without a pure defensive midfielder sitting behind Jones and Bradley.

“It’s very crucial, the partnership between Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones. It’s really important that they over time develop a real fine-tuned understanding that when one goes forward and is attacking, the other has to secure him and stay back,” Klinsmann said in a recent episode of his Podcast. “Here and there they both end up in the opponent’s penalty area and you leave kind of a hole behind. Those are things we would love to work on in the near future, when we play both next to each other and maybe we play without a number six that secures them. It only works if one stays and the other goes, and this is very important. Hopefully now we have the time and more training sessions before a game to work on that, and I think in time if we develop that fine-tuned understanding between these two guys then we have a big plus.”

In other words, Klinsmann is open to making a big shift in his midfield philosophy, and we could see a more attack-minded midfield in the upcoming qualifiers than we have seen in previous USMNT matches.

As Klinsmann stated, the big concern about going with Jones and Bradley in the middle by themselves has been the fact that both players like to jump into the attack and if they don’t work out when one goes and one stays, then the U.S. midfield can get overstretched and exposed.

The tricky part is Klinsmann can’t just make one a No. 6, and force them to stay home, because both Jones and Bradley have good attacking qualities. Bradley is arguably the best passer in the U.S. midfield and can do damage with late runs, and Jones showed recently in the UEFA Champions League with Schalke that he can be a threat in the attack and provide some goals. What Bradley and Jones need to sort out is developing a good sense of when one can get forward and one can stay home.

What will it mean if Klinsmann does away with a pure No. 6 and hands Bradley and Jones the keys to the central midfield? It means being able to devote one more starting spot to a pure attacking player, which should help provide a boost for an attack that has struggled to generate chances.

That is assuming Klinsmann does use that extra space on a true attacker. As we have seen in the past with his experimentation with using defensive-minded midfielders like Danny Williams and Jose Torres in flank midfield roles. He could choose to go that route, particularly in Estadio Azteca against Mexico. For those who don’t remember, Klinsmann went with FOUR, not just there defensive-minded central midfielders (Jones, Beckerman, Williams and Torres) in the U.S. team’s 1-0 upset win over Mexico in a friendly last August.

With the stable of U.S. forwards in such good form you can see why Klinsmann might want to get more of an attacking element into the midfield. Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson and Terrence Boyd have all scored goals recently and Klinsmann could be eager to take advantage of the good form of players like Altidore and Gomez by having an added attacking element in midfield.

So who would Klinsmann turn to? Brek Shea doesn’t look like a starting option given the fact he isn’t 90-minutes fit, but Graham Zusi looks like a possibility and veteran DaMarcus Beasley is playing his way into the conversation. The fact that Gomez is playing on the right wing for Santos Laguna bodes well for him being an option as a wide player. Klinsmann could also consider Joe Corona, who has been playing well and taking part in big matches with Club Tijuana.

Whoever Klinsmann turns to, it is still very much a positive sign that he is considering a change and considering doing away with the “Empty Bus”. That setup might get you a draw on the road, but for a team that needs a win against Costa Rica on  March 22nd, the USMNT needs a stronger attack and this change just might help Klinsmann find that.

What do you think of this development? Excited to see Klinsmann considering a change to his midfield? Who would you start in midfield to help create more chances? Think Joe Corona is ready to step in and start, or would you prefer going with Graham Zusi or Damarcus Beasley?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. The experimentation phase is over. It is time for Klinsy to decide on a consistent lineup and develop cohesiveness together on the field. It is time to focus on winning, not experimenting.


    Johnson Boca Cameron Chandler (the best we have at the moment and healthy)

    Donovan (eventually) Bradley Beasley Dempsey (experienced guys, Beasley has historically better results than any other midfielder)

    Altidore Gomez (if Altidore scores 0.65 goals per game with service in the box at AZ, then provide the guy some service in the box)

  2. The players at the international level must be able to figure out what needs to be done to secure their team a win and do it. That implies they must be able to not only combine with teammates in the attack, but, probably more importantly, they must be able to be in good spots to defend from if their team loses the ball. No amount of tinkering with starting positions will hold up for long as the other team tries to pull players out of position. In brief, if Jones and Bradley cannot play together well, then neither is as good as many of us think they are.

    I think Bradley is a great player, but he does have a tendency to try to cover too much defensively when he should be looking more to attack ( a reason why adding a 3rd defensive mid makes things congested for the US.). I really have not seen Jones play as much, but my impression is that when he gets caught forward, he is too likely to make a professional foul that would not have been needed if he had not been caught too far forward or truated his teammates (it is good that he takes responsibility for stopping the other team, but relying on teammates can be a smarter decision). I think that combination often looks like Jones is playing in front of Bradley when the starting lineup lists them as flat or with Bradley more advanced.

    Both are smart players, both know the importance of good defense in the middle, and both do tend to drop back centrally when not actively involved in the play, the problem is that puts both of them in similar spots and close to a 3rd defensive mid. I get the impression that when they see that happening both of them try to readjust and that puts the 3rd midfielder suddenly alone and unable to figure out which one (or even if one) of the pair should be sharing the defensive responsibility.

    I agree that using an attacking mid (or two) would make the tendency of the pair to drop back less of an issue. If our CBs can communicate to the pair to help ensure one of them stays more at home, or join the attack as it is appropriate, that could help, but really the pair just need some more time together with one or two attacking mids in front of them so they can work it out.

  3. Nice article above about probably the most important question now facing the USMNT. I am not sure why the bad (or lack of) chemistry between JJ and MB and why they cannot as a pair provide us on the field what they are capable of and what we deserve. I am certain that if Klinsmann would start Jones and MB as dual Sixes and finally do his job as coach and quite being afraid of MB and basically pull rank on MB and demand that MB and Jones work together and when one is surging forward the other MUST cover the back line and no funny business between the two–if Klinsmann does that I am sure that MB and Jones could add tremendous stability to our young defensive back line and we would see a better USMNT.

    But—if those two cannot work together than Klinsmann is going to have to made the tough (and potentially controversial) decision to start only one of them and leave the other on the bench as a super sub. If Klinsmann chooses this strategy, my choice now (subject to change in the future) would be to start Jones and sit MB.

  4. How about bradley as a center back????

    chandler cameron BRADLEY johnson
    gomez corona johnson

    • You cant be serious. He is a liability on the field everywhere except forward. If anything he should be relieved of all defensive duty. I woukd love for JK to send him out with the instructions to simply score goals. Let someone who doesn’t incessantly turn the ball over do the creating.

      • MB usually has among the highest pass completion percentage for the USMNT whenever I can find the statistics. Like every player who gets involved in play a lot he makes a few bad plays, but that is hardly the norm.

  5. Jk will open it up at home. I think we are in for a pleasant offensive outburst with better than average ball movement. No way we see a 6 behind MB and Jones.

    The front six

    Deuce or Boyd
    Corona Torres Herc
    Jones MB

    • nice, chris_thebassplayer. Not sure I would go with that exact starting line-up, but I do think time for Klinsmann to shake things up big time.


      • Yeah, I know, more wishful thinking on my part. At some point we’re going to have to go with players that have the best collective chemistry. The players that are intuitive and play well together. Those players may not be the best or most skilled players individually or leading goal scorers for their clubs, just the players that can keep the ball moving and make the Nats function at a higher level. For this game, I would love to see Corona, Torres and Herc above MB and Jones, providing support to Boyd. Just for one game I’d like to see how quickly we can move the ball without Deuce or Jozy in the starting line up.

  6. It isn’t much short of insanity that the usmnt attack is considered more of a concern than the defense. If we are going to make it anywhere in the world cup it will be (as always) because we aren’t giving up goals, not because of a dynamic offense.
    I can deal with 1 goal scored against Honduras. However, giving up 2 will never be acceptable. Sooooo, The fact that most people are calling for more offense and formations with 6 attacking players seems so ridiculous.

  7. It’s really funny reading all the comments hating on Jermaine Jones, saying he is overrated and has been really poor for the U.S. Do people even watch him play? He is easily one of our best players, and always plays decent to well for the USMNT. He is a very good player, plays Champions League ball every year, and is an automatic starter for a top side in Shalke. He is instrumental to their success, and when he doesn’t play, they usually have problems. Not calling people out, but if you don’t see that JJ is a good player, I really question your motives behind that opinion.

    • He has been mediocre at best. He can’t play anywhere in the 433 that JK wants to implement. Not to mention the constant cards and suspensions that are a major concern in tournament play.
      Having the exact opposite opinion as you I think that you must be blind to think that he is in the top 5 midfield options in this systen. What he does for his club is irrelevant.

      • Really? I think that JJ as an outside midfielder has without a doubt been the biggest failure of the JK era. His performance in the holding position has been moderate.

        The midfield play in the last several games has been dreadul. Yet no one is willing to bench Jones or Bradley. I don’t get it. Either the formation or the personnel needs to change. Or both.

  8. —– Altidore—– Boyd —–
    Beasley — Agudelo (CAM) — Wooten
    ———— Jones ————-
    Johnson – Cameron – Gonz – Chandler
    ————- Guzan —————-

    Agudelo play withdrawn forward/CAM in the last chivas game…. This is a pure offensive line up.

  9. Coordination between Bradley and Jones is such a non-problem, when placed next to other concerns. They’ve been playing together for a while, and it has rarely been an issue. JK’s attempts at creating a third partner have normally been the beginning of midfield problems (especially when that third has been Williams).

    I’ve tried to give JK every benefit of doubt, but I’m starting to be more open about my suspicion that we really took a step back with this Bob Bradley to Klinsmann switch.

    That said, during this critical period of vulnerability when working in a new center back, I would go with a 4-2-3-1 with Bradley and Jones as DMs (both with greenlights to go forward some). I’d have Kljestan as the center attacking mid. Then you’ll see some creativity, especially if Kljestan is surrounded on all sides by guys who can put the ball away.

  10. ——————Guzan———————





    Gomez plays pretty wide with Santos, could see him excelling here.

  11. quick question

    do people not realize that shea has not started a game since september? or that he has made all of 2 substitute appearances for stoke?

    but dont mind me… dream on!!!

    • What is Shea noted for with the USMNT?

      Coming on late and making some runs at the Mexican defense.

      If the US needs a boost with 45-30 minutes left, they could worse than have Shea come off the bench. He should be fit enough for that by now.

      • Two times against Mexico Shea was The Man, totally dominated. And third time is the charm. If Shea does not start in the upcoming WCQ against Mexico, he should be the top choice as a second-half offensive spark. No ifs ands or buts about it.

    • That’s true.
      However, I think that people tend to forget that Shea started his career as a fullback. He is very well suited for this scheme. Having someone who can attack and cover for Johnson if necessary is really good for the system. He needs more playing time…but I think he will quickly become a permanent fixture

  12. thanks for post.

    but good grief ives

    – gringo torres is a defensive-minded CM? all 5’5″, 93 lbs of him? tigres values him for his defense? really, ives?

    – move over freddy adu, joe corona is is now officially the most over-hyped USMNT player. congrats, ives, for making it happen. joe corona is going to make his first start in the most important game of the entire WC cycle? after logging a grand total of 23 minutes in 3 sub appearances, 22 of which came at end of scotland blow-out? ok, well i guess his 1 goal and 1 assist in 12/13 campaign so far for tijuana qualifies him as a good attacking option. wow

    – beasley? i think its terrific he is getting regular playing time with puebla but bringing DMB back would be a colossal step in the wrong direction. its been almost a decade since DMB was somewhat useful. then again, he is also shredding liga MX to the tune of 2 goals, 2 assists in 12/13

    – and i wont even mention ignoring sacha entirely… oh wait…

    heres your options to join bradley, jones and altidore for CR game: (choose your 3 favorite)
    – kljestan
    – torres
    – gomez
    – zusi
    – EJ

    • Torres is NOT a playmaker. He is a deep-lying distributor. The concept of defensive-minded midfielder gets lost on some. Torres isn’t a hart-tackling bulldog. He’s a player who excels at positioning, cutting off passing angles and circulating the ball to the attack. You don’t have to be HUGE to be an effective defensive midfielder or deep-lying midfielder. Osvaldo Alonso isn’t big. Makalele was 5-7, as was Chris Armas. Ever Banega isn’t a big player either. Watch Tigres play and you tell me what role Torres plays.

      As for Beasley, I’m not saying he should start, but I think he’s an interesting option. He’s a long-term option? No, but he could buy you some time when you need some experience NOW.

      • re torres: i did not (just) say he is a playmaker, i just said he is not a ‘defensive-minded’ CM. i agree he is a deep-lying facilitator / distributor. one could argue that he is a unique ‘type’ of deep-lying playmaker, but no, his offensive production does not reflect his is a creator. i agree you dont have to big to be a DM, but you do have to be strong. torres is not on the field because of his strength. i do watch tigres play. salcido is the deputy and torres is primarily in charge keeping the tempo of the offense and spraying the ball around the field. secondarily, he helps tidy up defensively. anyway, thats how i see it. have a hard time believing that his coaches would describe his primary attribute as his defensive prowess

      • Mr.shine,

        There are a lot of different ways to play defense.

        When JFT was with Pachuca he played as Ives described, his main assests being his quickness and his ball skills which allowed him to help Pachuca maintain possession. Of course that brings Tiki taka to mind.

        The main reason Tiki taka was adopted by Spain was because Luis Aragones realized Spain was never going to out muscle everyone else . By having players who are quick, good on the ball, and good passers a physical advantage can be nullified by basically playing keep away. This helps you create offensive opportunites but more imporantly, the other guy can’t score if he doesn’t have the ball. And he gets really worn out chasing you.

        Spain aren’t necessarily an offensive juggernaut. In the World Cup they had a lot of 1-0 wins.

        The difference with Barca is they have Leo who is an offensive juggernaut all by his lonesome

        I am not suggesting that Torres is good enough to be a Barca/Spain player but he does have that sort of skill set and his Mexican clubs have used him in that fashion. Also, he’s not as weak as you suggest.

      • Nice explanation on Torres. Too bad Klinsmann cannot see it and correctly utilize Jose. i will add that IMI Torres has gotten a bad rap on his defense. He has been a defensive pit bull at times in a US shirt. The friendly against Belgium in Brussels, early in Klinsmann’s tenure, stands out as a particularly good defensive showing for Torres.

  13. Thoughtful article Ives. Thank you!

    I say the solution to this problem is the 3-4-3. We are knee deep in forwards so get your strongest players on the field. We don’t have enough defenders, so keep them off the field. Sometimes you have to fight with the army you have, not the army you wish you had. This strategy might yield goals but I would rather have a 4-3 victory than a 0-0 tie.

  14. Jones goes box to box, bradley sits behind the halfway line, right side like he did at chievo, to cover Fabian runs forward. Cameron stays back on defence. Bradley’s role changes when Jones comes off.

    ————————————————————jozy (boyd)

    ——————————-mr X—————————-gonzo–

    • Yes, but that was Jamaica. Costa Rica and Mexico are arguably better teams. I know we lost in Kingston by two fantastically taken free kicks (who would’ve thought they had good free kick takers), we should’ve done better.

  15. He better be – we need some points. I have even more interest in NOT seeing 3 DMs sitting on top of each other than usual because I will be at this game! Really excited and I hope JK takes the *&^&* training wheels off and lets us play. With all that talk about attacking soccer it’d be nice to see some shots on goal.

  16. Missing piece is quite simply this::: Altidore, Dempsey, Donovon, Bradley being on the same field together… Landon elevates everyones play. To be quite honest, I’d love to see Diskerud. In every game I’ve seen him in, I’ve been impressed, why not put him on the right in LDs absence. Don’t care what anyone says… We give up less goals with Edu in the game.

    Two lineups (Allows everyone the freedom to do what they’re best at doing)

    Same back 4 as before

  17. For the Mexico match, I’d like to see Castillo and Fabian Johnson team up on the left, and Chandler team up with Gomez on the right. Let Jozy play hold-up in front of Torres and Dempsey who can interchange on the left and right respectively and allow Herc and Fabian to cut inside, and leave Bradley behind to cover the center backs, Cameron and Gonzalez. The square peg here is Dempsey, who likes to float around. I think we need to play this aggressive formation in Azteca because Mexico will dominate possession if we allow them and we will struggle to get into any rhythm.

    • I’m not 100% sure, but I think that Edgar Castillo is injured and will not be available. If he was helathy I’d start this formation (of course without knowing Klinsmann roster choices):




      GK: Guzan

  18. These boys better play better than they did against Honduras that’s all I know. The team performance against the Hondurans was pathetic, especially defensively. Correct whatever mistakes that need to be corrected, and get the job done. I expect a solid display at home against Costa Rica at home in Denver, and if we play with confidence in Estadio Azteca, I expect a good result there as well. Knock it out of the park boys, they cant afford to drop any games at this stage in qualifying. DEFEND YOUR HOME FIELD, I do not want to see any losses at home this round.

  19. I think Klinsmann’s main problem is that having Bradley and Jones alternately playing the #6 role means only the other is available to join the attack. We currently don’t have anyone in the pool that has proven themselves to be as good as either of them in playing a more forward midfield role (I think Holden was on his way before his string of injuries). JK has a bunch of #6’s to plug in there — Edu, Williams, Beckerman (in that order, IMHO) — so Jones and Bradley have been forced to fill that forward hole. Seriously, who else does he put in the more forward MF role? Lots of guys have gotten their chance and have not really lit the world on fire: Kljestan, Torres, Corona, even Mixx. Putting Donovan or Zusi there would kill any chance of some wide play on the right. Putting Dempsey there works, but it arguably pulls our best finisher away from goal. If Altidore or Boyd start hitting the net at the international level more regularly, I guess Demsey is our best choice. For now, until Donovan returns, I’d go with JG’s first lineup above.

  20. Seems to me that if Klinsmann had more confidence in his center backs, playing a number 6 might be a bit less of an issue. Gonzalez and Cameron may be the future but will it come in time?

    • Good luck, it sold out in a few hours. You can wait til the game starts and try to get tickets from scalpers or you can wait to see Mexico play at mile high

      • Yeah it just so happened I’m going to be in Colorado next week so it would have been nice to go. Don’t get to many WCQ here in dallas unfortunately.

      • Amru –

        It surprises me they don’t have them in the Death Star, too.

        OT, but do you know if any bars have Nats watching parties? It’s always NASCAR and golf at the bars near me(FB/Addison).

  21. Sounds like we’ll be riding the turnover riddled, out of position Jermaine Jones failbus all the way to the bottom of the cliff.

  22. What are we going to do with Dempsey? He is back in training but hasn’t played in a month. Do we take a chance starting a guy who will likely be rusty and unable to go the distance, especially at altitude, despite being our best player? or Do we use him off the bench to give us a 2nd half spark? I think he starts regardless, but interested to hear what others think.

    • In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter how rusty he is, if he makes the trip he’s gotta start the Costa Rica game. We haven’t exactly looked like an offensive juggernaut lately and he’s the only one capable of producing something from nothing. This game is as must-win as the second game of the Hex can be, and I’d rather give Deuce the first 60 minutes and hopefully help set the tone for the game than leave the game in the hands of everyone else and hope Deuce can save us in the last 25 – 30 minutes.

      • Dempsey will definently start if healthy enough, its not like we are Brazil and have another solid player to pick up the slack in much of the same way or better than our starters. Shea looked good last year in the friendly against Mexico, he was quick and serviceable as a winger. However, he is not fit, and these are must win games and not the time to experiment with players who might not be mentally ready to get the job done.

      • He is exceptionally fit according to Tony Pulis at Stoke. Shea can provide great service on the wing. His lack of playing time is due to Stoke’s style of play, not interested in wing play.

        In regards to Dempsey it would be best to start him and if Klinsmann says he is healthy to play I can’t see why not.

  23. 4-2-3-1











    Demps can tuck in and Gomez can get wide in space…..Bradley can do what he does best. Protect the back line, support the attack and back up Cornoa. With Demps and Shea pinching in we can keep width by pressing our outside backs up. Until we start attacking with at least 6 players we will see the same boring counter attack play

  24. What about calling up Jose Villareal? Dude was a terror in U20s and has continued that form with the Galaxy.

  25. Two thoughts:
    1) I’m not convinced he means it. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we saw the same old/same old in the next two matches.
    2) At no point should he consider demanding Bradley stay back as a “number 6.” He’s way, way too valuable to the attack.

    • +1,000,000 Herc has proved he can get the job done since Klinsmann finally gave him the chance last summer, unlike another forward, who, although doing well for his club, has been a complete flop on the USMNT. I cannot figure out why Klinsmann left Herc on the bench against Honduras. If Klinsmann makes the mistake again, leaving Herc on the bench against Costa Rica and Mexico, I would be quite happy to see Klinsmann fired.

  26. jones and bradley have a lof of time to form chemistry, and i can’t think of a single game where they really looked good together. actually, i can’t think of a single game where jones looked really great – mostly middling performances from him. if i were coach, i honeslty might replace him with edu, and have edu play back, with bradly having more freedom to get forward. you’d have a clearer definition of roles, and edu always handles the defensive end well.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, JK salivates about Jones in the press. I don’t see him losing his spot on the starting XI.

    • Good point, jon. I am not sure why the bad chemistry, but I agree if Klinsmann cannot do what he is being paid to do and get them to finally work together than one of them has be pulled from the starting line-up for a super sub role. And as i stated above, Jones IMO is now in better form than MB and should be starting.

      • Agreed. If anything, Jones and Williams partnered well together, maybe they should be given a look. However, I would prefer Jones starting alone and a true 10 like Corona/Diskerkud in front.

  27. maybe Bradley and JJ have both gotten forward at times BECAUSE there was a deep lying midfielder behind them. If there wasn’t one, they’d probably be more careful to play off one another so they weren’t both in the opponent’s box at the same time.

  28. ‘Whoever Klinsmann turns to, it is still very much a positive sign that he is considering a change and considering doing away with the “Empty Bus”.’

    sure, that’s a positive sign. and i’ll believe it when i see it.

    • ha-ha. me too, believe it when I see it. but we have been hammerin’ on Klinsi now since the Honduras debacle and, who knows, maybe JK will listen to us…

  29. It’s not just an issue of giving the keys to the kingdom to MB and JJ. The article totally misses the issue of needing good service out of the back line. One of the reasons for the additional DM behind MB and JJ is that the service from the backs has been bad, lazy, inexperienced, what have you. Having that extra DM, in theory, should provide for better link-up play to the CMs, wide players, and forwards. Until/Unless we can get better service out of the back, the US needs an extra set of feet in the middle to carry the ball forward.

    Maybe JK tries an extra playmaker against Costa Rica, but he’s going to park the bus against Mexico in the Azteca.

    BTW, I think the referernce to Ale Bedoya getting called up is wrong. He mentioned being proud to wear MNT colors on his twitter acct, but it was in reference to the new centennial unis. I think JK would boot him if he gave out call-up info before JK made the official announcement on Monday.

    • can’t MB just come back and receive the ball from the defenders and be that link instead of the extra DM? He’s done this in the past for the US and for Roma.

  30. Ives, epic picture man…

    Can’t tell if the caption should be “Doom and Gloom” or “The Calm Before the Storm”.

    • +1. read the headline about changing the midfield, then saw the pic, and thought, “i’m not going to be the one to tell them.”

  31. Dempsey does more damage on flanks, instead being more semi-forward.

    Jones and Bradley on centrel midfield is good enough, with Edu or Torres fill-in for either.

    We need two forwars!!! Altidore with Gomez or Boyd, maybe Villareal could fill-in the future.

  32. yeah I think we have to assume that neither match will be a shutout and be pleasantly surprised if that doesn’t happen. The fact that JK is willing to get more attackers on the filed might mean he’s thinking shoot out as well.

  33. I think Klinsmann should bring in Claudio Reyna from the sidelines. Seems that we have lacked any kind of creative midfielder since he retired!

    Although we need to shore up our backline….no Jeff Agoos, please 🙂

      • well are in deep trouble then aren’t we? you think he’s recovered yet? we need someone with creativity to play in an attacking midfield position behind the forwards. i think Dempsey is better coming from a wider position. maybe Torres would work out better in a more central position, higher up the field?

      • agree. Dempsey on the left flank, very effective cutting inside with the ball on his foot or craching the box late from the weakside. that leaves a hole behind the strikers for Corona or Benny or Sacha, players who know how to play in there…but we won’t see that

      • Christian,

        Reyna never played in the hole behind the forwards. Other than Donovan and Dempsey, and they aren’t ideal there, the US doesn’t have any proven players for that spot.

    • Feilhaber…when allowed to play he links things up, THE missing piece to Klinsmann’s teams so far. I don’t care whatever great league one plays in, if your skills are unsuited for the task required by the team then it makes you the round peg for a square hole.

      • Yeah, when he’s on Fielhaber is exactly the type of player needed. Too bad his attitude/mental game gets in the way.

        The problem is we just don’t have anyone like that suitable. The best options are probably 1. a rusty Dempsey (not really his best role, but who else?) 2. the wildly inconsistent Klejstan or 3. the completely untested Corona.

      • I’d take my chances on Corona. When I’ve seen Corona play he is pretty decent at keeping the ball well, not to say a rusty Dempsey is not so bad. Were going to have to dominate in the midfield in both games against Costa Rica and Mexico to win those games. I’ve heard Klejstan has been playing well for Anderlecht, but club performances and natioanl team don’t always translate.

      • I agree Corona would be the way to go. He sprays the ball around and he can also finish.

      • I’d take Benny over them all for the role. He got 45 minutes of run vs. Canada and changed the game just by being a normal player in that role, the link up guy.

        then all he gets is Klinsmann in the paper saying, yeah, yeah, we know about benny, blah blah blah, and then no more run???

        this whole idea that one’s club form translates to Nats form is far from true…it could be that way but not necessarily. We need the players with the requisite skills manning the positions that require those skills. Benny already has done it for the Nats and yet Coach K insists he knows better.

        again, we’ll see, but a home game thats needs a win that doesn’t include a guy with the skills needed and the experience to deliver? BS!!!

      • gets in the way? whose attitude is getting in the way of rational callups I ask you?

        Benny delivers for the national team in a role that is badly needed on the national team, was the difference in his 45 minute runout vs. Canada, has proven to be a supersub for this team, and yet can’t sniff the field behind Williams and Torres and Zusi and others who have proven what?

      • I love Benny but he has consistently underachieved his whole career.

        JK is hardly the first or only manager to remain lukewarm about Benny.
        If he decides he wants to play then he’s fine if mostly unfit.

        If he’s not sure he wants to play he is like a Kardashian, looking good doing nothing of any importance.

        Besides he is best positioned a little deeper than just behind the strikers. In my mind, if he plays, the player he should replace is Mikey.

      • Benny represents in the red, white and blue well and always has when in the kit. that’s the team we’re discussing. on your point about deciding to play, he’s done nothing but show up and rep for the Nats, so based on that he has earned it

      • Then follow his Nats career more closely
        This is a guy who has gotten more mileage out of his 2007 Gold Cup Final golazo than anyone could have imagined. In 2007 when Benny first came on he and Mikey were going to be the USMNT central midfield pair for the next 8 years.

        That’s what I thought.

        Then he basically went from a full time starter to being subbed at half time, to coming on at half time.
        This was because if you left him on longer he just disappeared. Or maybe he got tired. Or maybe the other guys just figured him out.

        Regardless BB started bringing him on as a super sub and he did well with that in the World Cup.

        Then after the World Cup his club situation just deterioriated

        And if you watched him under JK in that Venezuela game after Camp Cupcake, he spent more time arguing with the ref than playing. Just pathetic.

        So no he hasn’t always played well for the Nats. I’ve seen several games where he just basically held his own.

        He looked good for 45 minutes against Canada. But that was Canada so I think it’s appropriate to see how he starts out with SKC. I don’t trust him with anything beyond a half.

  34. Two players of Bradley and Jones’ age, experience, and intelligence should be able to know when one can attack and one needs to sit. It takes a little time to form a relationship between two players, but they have been playing together for the better part of 3 years now I believe. Its time to take the training wheels off the midfield and let them play. Our attacking play has been inconsistent at the best of times under Klinsmann, and I’m not sure our defense has really improved despite the players he has been playing. We don’t attack with any purpose, don’t get necessary numbers forward, struggle in possession, and the list goes on and on. An extra attacking player is badly needed.

    • yeah, this is what i’m frustrated with…jones/bradley aren’t youth players, and they’re not new to the int’l scene. they should be able to discern when to make their runs and when to defend, right? how have they made it so far without learning that yet (apparently)?

    • Let’s face it: Jones is best suited to be a 6, but he sees himself more as a box to box guy. So he goes on his out of control runs forward (that almost never work). And Klinsmann lets him get away with it time and again, because he’s Jermaine Jones. Hell he might make Jones the captain over Bradley for these games… Sorry but the job of a coach is to get players to do the job he needs them to do, not let them do the job they want to do.

      • No, he’s not. He’s actually underrated by US fans. But he is misused. Blame both him (for wanting to play a different role than the one he is best suited for) and Klinsmann (for letting him do it), but he can still be useful to this team.

      • It’s takes two to tango, Bobb, and everything you have just accused Jones of could just as easily be applied to MB. And, actually, at the current time Jones is in better offensive form than MB. And why shouldn’t Jones be named caption over MB. Jones is a leader on the Schalke team and is evolving into a leader in Bundesliga Fussball, always being interviewed by the German press for his perspectives.

    • Gaucho,

      “should be able to know when one can attack and one needs to sit. ”

      That is what they said about Lampard and Gerrard and those two never quite figured it out for England.

      Before he went to Italy, Mikey was too undisciplined to be trusted to try this sort of thing, or maybe he just didn’t trust the other US midfielders. Maybe serving as De Rossi and Tooti’s sidekick has helped him with his discipline.

      Regardless, hopefully he and Jones have had enough time together to make it work.

      • Yes, its a bit of an oversimplification to say one just has to sit when the other goes forward. and VUALA! All our problems are solved. One of the major point I was trying to make is the addition of a #6 behind the 2 hasn’t enhanced our play at all. If anything, it seems to be handcuffing our play. It is time to try a different, slightly more attacking, approach. Jones and Bradley are more than capable of handling the defensive duties while a more advanced player can aid in the attack.

  35. I’m still much more concerned with the fact that our backline can’t stop anybody before I am going to worry about getting forward more aggressively.

    • The backline is going to be shaky regardless, so it’s time to stop playing a #6 and start playing with another attacker to provide more goal scoring oppportunities.

      The best team looked offensivley was against Slovenia in November 2011 when the squad played with two strikers and Dempsey as the CAM.


      • True. And those same people don’t realize that their keyboard’s caps lock function can be turned off.

    • I agree our defense doesn’t instill a great deal of confidence, but against Honduras that was just as much a problem with our midfield. We didn’t close players down quick enough. Maybe it was due to fatigue. Jones and Williams were gassed pretty early out there. We also could not keep possession. That put a lot of pressure on us defensively, and the now famous 3 man miscue ensued….

  36. I don’t think I consider Bradley or Jones defensive minded any longer. Keano is now remembered as a defensive midfielder, but in reality, he wasn’t. He was a two-way midfielder who could tackle. Keano, Bradley, and Jones are just capable of digging in and making tackles which convinces people they are defensive. Makelele was your traditional DM, sit in front of the defense and break up attacks – which is what Williams does best. Jones used to be a DM, but he has evolved at the club level.

    My problem with playing Bradley and Jones together is that they’re the same type of player. Klinsi has yet to find a central midfield balance. Much like Keano needed a Scholes or Veron, Jones and Bradley need a Torres or Corona or Mix.

    I’d rather we see a:


    Why Corona? He’s play at a high level, and unlike Torres or Sascha, Corona hasn’t been given multiple opportunities. Let the faster, younger guy show how hungry he is. Jones and Bradley can alternate going forward and covering one another.

    When will Klinsi reveal the roster?

    • Yes, Jones and MB are playing better offensively now. But they also are still very good defenders. Our version of Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso., both of whom are great defenders who also can move up and attack.

      I agree with you I would love to see Corona given a chance. But not behind MB and Jones-rather ahead of them.


      Clint—–Joe Corona——-Zusi



  37. Honestly, I believe that with our current personnel, fluidity should come out of well-defined primary roles. Jones should be our #6/DM, with Dempsey higher up the pitch as either a #10/CAM or withdrawn striker and Bradley as the primary box-to-box CMF (#8?). I’m not saying that we don’t see Jones once or twice marauding forward, but in general, his “home” should be lying deep. Without the default roles, no one knows what they’re improving out of, no one can be held accountable when assignments get missed, so one know what to cover. If memory serves Jones hasn’t really been a true #6 under Klinsmann, but my understanding is that’s what he does for Shalke and he’s one of the best in Europe at it. Why reinvent the wheel here?

      • thank you. and i’m not saying that he can’t ever have a look at goal or have a run forward, I’m just saying that the other 10 guys on the field need to know who #6 is. so that when the guy tasked with being 6 is not doing the 6 thing someone else can pick that up until 6 comes come. there’s no time to guess. It should be Jones.

      • He has in the past but his role has changed in recent seasons. Not saying he can’t play the 6. He can. And has. And will in the future at some point probably. My only point is that his regular club role is slightly different.

    • I agree with basically everything you are saying PD. But at the current time, I think Jones is better offensively than MB, as seen in Jones’s exceptional counter-attack goal against Galatasaray in Istanbul in the Champions League. If Klinsmann plays them both, I would rather seem them both in back with true attackers up ahead. But if Klinsmann feels he has to have one of them as an attacker, Jones is the man at the current time. His form is exceptional right now.

  38. If Bradley and Jones can’t do a defensive job between the two of them, one of them must sit.

    The third midfielder doesn’t need to be a #10. I would’ve suggested Torres play in the position he wants , passing from behind JJ and MB, but he hasn’t exactly earned it.

      • Totally agree, weaksauce, that if Klinsmann’s formation demands that only Jones or MB can start, then there is no question in my mind that Jones should be starting and MB on the bench as a super sub. Contrary to the views of a few of the posters on this board, there is no rule guarantees MB a starting slot. That said, if MB and Jones could get over whatever problems they have had in the past working together and develop some chemistry, then I could see Klinsmann starting both of them. But I am not sure they will ever be able to be paired together effectively.

      • No player ont his team should be guaranteed a starting spot, that said if MB is not starting who else do we have that can fill his role on the squad? We don’t have alot of experencied players ready to be thrown in to high stakes World Cup Qualifying matches.

      • the problem is dempsey as a 10, the dude is slow and does not distribute the ball good. either play Dempsey as a striker or just sit him.

      • Gee which, kb. How can you expect to be taken seriously when you are suggesting that Klinsmann sit Jones, who is without a doubt our best midfielder at the current time.

      • I consider them on about the same level. Circumstances and opponents would dictate my opinion. Hopefully, though, they would play well together.

  39. Considering JK seems hellbent on playing Jones no matter the circumstances, ideally I’d like to see a diamond midfield of Jones deep, Bradley in front of him, and Dempsey + Zusi (or Donovan, when he returns) on the flanks. Jones does deserve to start atm–he’s on better form than Danny Williams, and I still have doubts about Kyle Beckerman from the 2012 qualifying matches.

    • One of the main points of the argument is that it would be silly to anchor one of them as the 6 in front of the back four. You miss out on Jones’ attacking qualities by doing that. Which he just displayed in this little competition called the Champion’s League.

      • yes, yes you can. the discussion is about having those two plus someone who ISN’T Edu, Williams, or Beckerman. Bradley and Jones will be in the starting XI.

      • That presumes that Bradley would not be able to drop back in more of a cover role if Jones pushed forward. Which we all know he can. Come on.

      • Dude. Yeah. That’s the point. If that’s the case then neither one of them is anchored as a number 6 and we’re all on the same page here.

  40. I don’t know any of the answers, but I’d be curious to see a 4-2-3-1 with Jones and Bradley providing the presence in central midfield. Many of the teams who are currently performing well in Europe (Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, et al) are using it to good effect.

    • We are def. getting Bradley and Jones sitting in the bucket. No doubt in my mind.

      This is my preference.

      • ————-Altidore





        ———Bradley —–corona/zusi



      • The funny thing is I agree with the guy. It’s just my caps lock button isn’t stuck.
        Gonzalez>Besler at this point.

      • yeah, the disadvantage of all caps is that lots of people (like me) will just not read a single word, no matter how astute.

      • I disagree with your assessment that Omar is “the best defender in MLS” and “the best American defender.”

        I disagree with your assertion that Omar is the best CB for the possession oriented system JK is attempting to create. Besler’s distribution, in my opinion exceeds that of Omar, and he plays a similar style with his club team.

        Moreover, I also fundamentally do not believe that it is beneficially to move players around from there starting positions. Omar is a good RCB. He is not as good as a LCB. Besler is currently the best LCB we have. He should start.

        Omar has 4 caps. Besler has 1. Hardly persuasive in support of the idea that he is a mainstay.

        and yes. Besler is relevant. Thank you and have a good day.

      • That’s fine, that is why I said “this is my preference.” Not, “this is my projection.” You would think I killed someone’s cat around here by suggesting that Besler may be a better choice at LCB. I guess we did not watch the same match against Honduras where our CB pairing looked disjointed and poor. All hail king Omar. Starting LCB for ManU, or was that Barca, or was that Bayern, oh yeah, it was none of them. Omar, Defender of the Year MLS 2011. Besler, Defender of the Year MLS, 2012. Don’t seem to be that different to me.

      • you killed a cat? lol jk..Omar passes pretty good and is dangerous on dead ball situations..he gets my vote

      • I agree regarding Omar.

        My preference for the back line:

        Johnson, Boca, Cameron, Chandler

        Not perfect, but this is the best we’ve got at the moment.

      • You’re right on most all of your points; I believe Besler will eventually be starting (hopefully with Gonzalez) but, while Besler may be better in a possession system, Gonzalez is still a better defender, in my opinion at least. That’s why I go with Gonzalez now. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but when Gonzalez and Cameron play together, I believe Cameron plays LCB (which I actually don’t think makes a big difference, but that’s just me.)

      • Agreed, you are correct. I just think that Cameron gets the nod over Omar at RCB.

        Look, if I had my way It would look more like this…..


        and then we would move Chandler up to RM. I think this is the least disruptive to our player pools club positions.

      • I like this back line, Steve, and would be more than happy to see Castillo at left back in place of Fabian. But rather than move Chandler up to RB I would rather move him to the bench or, better yet, not even call him up in the first place. And I think even if Boca is not playing at the club level currently, it might be wise to have his experience back there for the next two key matches.

        No offense, but I think you are being overly sensitive when people disagree with you. And those who were disagreeing were relatively mild. Have definitely seen (and experienced 🙂 much harsher disagreements.

      • You would think I elevated Besler over Giorgio Chellini or Nemanja Vidic. Some people take this board far too seriously.

      • Guess you missed the entire point of the article of not having Jones and Bradley next to each other

    • That is a fantasy if you think that the US has the players to accel in a 4-2-3-1. The teams you mentioned have quality players 1 through 11 and then have the reserves. The US has far too many weak links yet to expose the back four to any pressure and expect them to handle it for 90 minutes. Yet thinking with an open mind perhaps this would allow more posession for us and more pressure in the final 3rd which would hopefully take some of the pressure off the back.

      • Bedoya also stated that his comments weren’t related to an upcoming call-up. He said he was referring to past matches he’d played in.

        Doesn’t mean he won’t be there, but he did say he wasn’t alluding to anything in the future.

      • And Klinsmann STILL doesn’t understand the player pool. Sorry but Bedoya is just not good enough for the A team… What do people see in this guy? Sorry but just having a Latin-y name is not enough. Dude has never done anything to deserve a callup. Meanwhile guys who are just plain better (Feilhaber, Joe Corona) are on the fringe…

      • SBI: where Jozy scoring 30 goals in the Netherlands is meaningless but apparently Bedoya scoring twice back in Sweden (he was scoring goals in Sweden before the 2010 World Cup, what has changed? Isn’t he still at that same level?) means something.

      • huh? what are you talking about? who is talking about Jozy? i was simply responding to the guy who said Bedoya has done nothing. because Bedoya has been playing well. whether or not he deserves a call up, we all have our opinions.

        but again, i have no idea why you brought up Jozy. anyone saying Jozy shouldn’t be called up is wrong.

      • Oh, you mean the two minutes he was there while Rangers were in flux, desperately trying to hold on to talent so they could be sold after things went south.

        Yeah, totally see your point.

      • I would say Klinsmann considers Joe Corona to be closer to the A team than Bedoya (and so do I). He’s certainly called him in more often. I don’t think that Feilhaber has shown the consistent impact that Klinsmann has said he needs to, so I would be surprised if he gets called up for these games. But Klinsmann surprises me all the time with his call-ups, so it could happen.

        For these 2 games, I would expect Joe Corona to get called up, Bedoya to be on the fringe, and Feilhaber to be on the outside looking in.

    • Back during the Gold Cup, I was hoping Adu (not Edu) would play himself into that role. How many times will that kid make me look stupid?

      • same.

        actually, beyond logic and a sense of reality, i think it would be a perfect time for JK to call Adu to camp.

        He isn’t playing but it could A: keep him sharp. and B: Figure out what he could add to the team even as a sub. or C: if it breaks into inter-squad scrimmages with both sides playing a similar line up with a number 10 it would be interesting to see how he performs/ what he adds.

        I in no way expect this to happen but it would be interesting.

      • i honestly think the Gold Cup would be better for him. that squad is likely to have a lot of U-23 players.

      • IMHO, adu has gotten pretty hard done by recently. As reported by SBI, he created WAY more chances than his Union teammates managed to finish, he had a good season overall, but its kinda like a great quarterback whose receivers keep dropping the ball. At the end of the game hes going to be 4-15 for 54 yards despite personally playing quite well. Also in his last real USMNT performances during the last gold cup he played extremely well, especially in the final. Despite this, klinsy has never even given him a sniff. I still feel he could be great for us. he has always played well for usmnt, just look up his player ratings, they are usually pretty good.

    • Guzan

      Johnson. Boca. Cameron. Chandler

      Dempsey. Bradley. Beasley. Johnson

      Altidore. Gomez

      Must supply service in the box to Altidore

      • Two Johnsons? One must be Fabian and I’m assuming the other is Eddie. So you have Eddie Johnson as a wing mid. I’ve always thought of him as a more out and out striker than that.

    • Is there anyone else out there who is bewildered by Klinsman’s attachment to Jermaine Jones? I get that JK likes JJ’s tenacity and physical presence on the field, as well as his experience in Germany. But his turnover ratio is atrocious. Watch how often the ball lands on the other team’s feet after JJ touches it. Once you notice this tendency, he become unbearable to watch.


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