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USMNT Daily Update: Who should Klinsmann start vs. Costa Rica?

USA Starting 11


In 11 days Jurgen Klinsmann will settle on 11 players to help deliver the U.S. Men’s National Team its first points of the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. It will take much more than three points to qualify, but the three points on the line in Colorado next week  are as important as any the U.S. has played for in four years.

With a trip to Estadio Azteca looming on March 26th, the U.S. team knows that anything short of a victory against Costa Rica on March 22nd would put the Americans in serious trouble, and staring at the possibility of zero or one point from the first three matches in the HEX.

The recent rash of injuries will make the task of beating Costa Rica more daunting, but Jurgen Klinsmann’s encouraging news about some of the players who had been injured recently suddenly has U.S. fans feeling better about their prospects.

With Brad Guzan set to replace Tim Howard, and with Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson expected back in time for the match, the U.S. team should still be strong enough to take three to four points from the upcoming matches.

Just what will the starting lineup look like? Here is one projection of the lineup we could see take on Costa Rica on March 22nd.:




Some thoughts:

You will notice that Danny Williams is missing, and there is no Maurice Edu to replace  him. If Klinsmann decides to put a defensive midfielder behind Jones and Bradley, then we think Edu gets the call, but with the attack needing to generate more punch, I can see Klinsmann going away from his central midfield preference and going with Jones and Bradley together centrally. I can certainly see him returning to an Edu-Jones-Bradley triangle for the Mexico qualifier, but facing a Costa Rica side with a beatable defense, you have to think Klinsmann will to an attack-minded unit.

The same back four that started vs. Honduras starts again, and they should fare much better this time around. Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler struggled with the sultry heat in Honduras, but should find it much easier going in what could be chilly conditions in Colorado. They won’t exactly have a pushover in Costa Rica. The ‘Ticos’ boast some dangerous wing options, but with Chandler on good form lately in Germany, and Johnson being a very good defender when on his game, the U.S. defense could neutralize Costa Rica’s flank threat.

Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez make too much sense at this point given Carlos Bocanegra’s worsening situation at Racing Santander (he hasn’t played in quite some time). They will face a tough tandem in Alvaro Saborio and Bryan Ruiz, but it should help them both to be familiar with Saborio’s game.

Brek Shea gets the nod here, though Graham Zusi was considered. Shea isn’t getting 90 minutes for Stoke yet, but he is getting some minutes and his speed and left foot making him the perfect fit on the left. However, if fitness is a concern for Klinsmann, and if Shea doesn’t look capable of coping with the altitude as a starter, then Zusi can definitely get the nod.

Jozy Altidore gets the start up top, and while this formation looks like a 4-2-3-1 here, it can definitely play like a 4-3-3 with Shea and Gomez pressing forward. Whether Shea or Zusi, Altidore will need some service from the left flank to help stretch the Costa Rica defense.

Might Klinsmann actually not start Altidore? In theory he could go with a Shea-Dempsey-Gomez trio in front of an Edu-Jones-Bradley central combination, but it is just very difficult to envision Altidore being left on the bench considering the form he’s enjoying (and yes, I know, Klinsmann has done it before, but still).


What do you think of this projected starting lineup? What changes would you make to it? Think this squad can beat Costa Rica?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I don’t see Shea starting. His form has not been good enough. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brad Davis over there though. Or even Chris Pontius. Expect all three to get the callup so he can look at them and make a decision. Or he may punt and put F. Johnson or Dempsey at LW if their form/health are still in question. Here is my guess:

    Altidore Gomez

    Dempsey Jones Bradley Zusi

    F. Johnson Gonzo Cameron Chandler

  2. The one thing that no one in these comments has mentioned (at least that I’ve seen) is the lack of leadership we have on the field. I think that we missed Bocanegra in Honduras, not necessarily because of his quality, but because of his leadership. Timmy Chandler would have benefited from an experience CB next to him. Howard is an experienced goalkeeper, but (speaking as a player) it’s different when your leadership comes from a field player. I was hoping that Bradley would step into that role (and he still might) but we lacked that emotional leader on the pitch that is going to get the players around him focused and motivated, especially when things aren’t going as planned. Watching us versus Honduras, I felt like there was no emotion in the players which bugs the living crap out of me. All I wanted to see was someone put in a hard tackle and get a yellow card to show that we at least cared or were at least fighting for everything (we got no yellow cards in the Honduras game). Players have bad games, and I can understand that and accept that (to some degree). However, I cannot accept a player not fighting 100% for every ball for 90 minutes.

    If we want to be successful in this Hex and beyond, we will need a player(s) to step up and lead this team. COME ON YOU YANKS!!

    • This is an excellent point. Both Cherundolo and Boca can provide the leadership, but one thing I would say is that Guzan is also noted for it. He has been praised recently for marshalling the youngsters at AV as their fortunes have started to improve.

    • Excellent post. Agree on Boca. This is I put Boca in my line-up above. And for the few people who are whining for MB to be named captain, he certainly did not make a convincing argument against Honduras to be awarded the armband. As for playing with no heart, that is puzzling. There could be several reasons for this and all of them point to Klinsmann.

  3. 4-1-3-2





  4. Bring in Cuevas, he has outstanding speed, close ball control, and unlike most of our current flank options, he plays with his head up and has a healthy soccer IQ. If Agudelo can be brought in for a look at 17 why not Cuevas at 18…

  5. I just dont understand we have more in form goal scorers than ever and we cant score at all on the national team. With Agudelo, Jozy, Gomez, Deuce, and Boyd. Bob Bradley had to deal with a 18 yr old Jozy, RObby Findley, and Eddison Buddle

    • bob,

      It’s the team that creates the goal scoring chances. The individual scorer finishes off those chances.

      You need both to be “o”n at the same time to score regularly.

      It’s like baseball. Sometimes you get good hitting, sometimes you get good pitching. It’s really great when you get both at the same time.

      Since 2006 the US has never really had an attacking strategy beyond getting the ball to Donovan on the counter and letting him figure it out.

      JK’s biggest problem is he has not had Donovan around to ease the transition while the team was figuring things out. Dempsey continues to score because he doesn’t really need a system, he is the ultimate garbageman.But the US need more.

  6. Put out all of the lineups you want, including the Saturday Night Live skit lineup that BIFF drew up.

    Thanks for the laugh BIFF.You are a classic!

    Gulati brought in JK who was supposed to come with a plan for developing players, making us a real soccer nation, etc.

    This is what he gets $6,000 PER DAY to do.

    Until Gulati goes (and he is in for life folks) we will not get any better so I suggest following baseball, march madness, NASCAR or root for another country.

    • Thanks for the compliment, Rivaldo. I think either of my line-ups would be a vast improvement over the recent line-ups Klinsmann has been fielding. I would interested what your ideal line-up would be. Surely if you are throwing out such criticisms about my line-ups you would have a better plan. Why don’t you share it, pal?

  7. Wow, if that’s the line up we take no points from this one too. That backline with about 25 caps between them will struggle even on US soil. This is international football and nothing in MLS or Germany has prepared them for what’s to come.

  8. —————–Altidore——————





    Subs: Edu, Castillo, Corona, Zusi, Agudelo, Boyd

  9. Can’t really argue with the players in Ives lineup, that part is pretty easy. I would love for the same lineup/players to play more of a traditional 4-4-2, with Dempsey as the second striker and Shea and Gomez playing wide consistently. It would put alot of pressure on Jones and Bradley to play both ways but think it could really play more to the strenghs of the current players.

    And btw, I think its ridiculous to hear all the woes of the team being laid at JK. Until the players accept responsibility and the challenge, and we accept we just dont have ANY world class talent, its not going to matter who the manager is. USMNT is in transition, both in style and in talent. Its going to be a bit of a bumpy ride but as far as the 2014 cycle we just have to see it through. If the worst happens and we dont qualify, then its time to reboot and try something else. In any other scenario, you have to give Klinnsman the benefit of the doubt.

  10. Ives you’ve done this a few times before, can you at some point list who you would start and who you think the fans want to start in addition to who you think Klinnsmann will start?

      • “…can you at some point list who you would start and who you think the fans would want to start in addition to who you think Klinsmann will start”(I think it was the wording that caused me to think that not my early age fall)…the name of the thread is “who should klins start” so I guess that covers Ives’ end, but asking him to post a lineup he think WE want to see? There are literally 100 posts of people putting “their” starting 11 up.

  11. Has Klinsmann ever lined up without a true #6? Given the turmoil at centerback, I’m not sure now is the time to start. . . .

  12. Playing to our strengths…






    —————Jermaine Jones———————–

  13. —-Altidore—-Gomez—-Dempsey—-







    FWD: Jozy, Gomez and Dempsey up top. Our three best finishers to attack and put in as many goals as possible. how they lineup at kickoff is not important as all three should interchange frequently. I would be surprised if Clint plays more than 70 min, only if we are still tied or behind, this would be the ideal time to bring on Shea and/or Boyd.

    MID: Zusi as the creator; free to move side to side, Bradley as the holder/attacker and Jones as the destroyer. Edu could fill in for Jones and Corona and/or Torres should see time for either Zusi or MB.

    DEF: same as before; need to build familiarity. the four of them + Jones need to keep Ruiz off the ball and Saborio out of open areas and they should be fine.

    should make for an entertaining and high scoring game with the USA favored.

  14. Here we go, you want offense i’ll give you offense:




    Johnson and Chandler running up the wings and Bradley as a true 6.

  15. ————–Herc————

    Clint—–Joe Corona——-Zusi



    • Ok I’ll bite. At this point most people who read SBI on a regular basis know you’re not a fan of Timmy Chandler, that you think Jozy needs to be benched until he produces from a substitute role and that you think Castillo has earned a shot over Fabian Johnson, so we don’t really need to rehash those points. However, what on earth did Michael Bradley do to get dropped from this line-up in favor of Jose Torres? Not that I dislike JFT by any means, but starting him over Bradley? I don’t see the logic there.

      • ha-ha. well, two fold. I think we need more Latino influence in the lineup and I think we need to shake things up after the dreadful Honduras performance. And if we stick to only two d-mids and Torres plays as a deep Number Six distributor, that leaves only one other slot and I think Jermaine Jones’s form right now is better then MIchael Bradley’s. In my mind, Jermaine Jones has to be on the field against Costa Rica and in Mexico City, and so do Clint and Herc.

        But I was sort of debating on the right wing slot. Although both Jones and MB are generally playing d-mid at the club level, both also are often joining in on the attack. so I almost think either one of them could play the right midfield position, allowing Torres to stay in in the lineup.

        So maybe something like this. But if either Jones or MB would play the right mid, I think Jones has been more impressive offensively with Schalke, like his great goal two weeks ago in the Champions League. Or JJ and MB could switch back and forth during the dame.


        Clint—–Joe Corona——-MB/Jones



  16. well, i agree with what most are saying. i do not think Shea should start this game either. i would start Gomez out left, move Dempsey out right, and insert Corona into the middle. i honestly do not think this would be a big sacrifice to our chances in this must-win game. certainly not any more than they would be with Shea starting. until Shea is playing regularly again, he’s a better option off the bench.

    i’m not a huge fan of putting Dempsey out wide, but he’s more than capable of playing there. and of course Gomez has been playing out wide for Santos and has done very well. but I think Corona could really help control possession and would work well with Bradley.

    assuming this is a 4-3-3, you would hope that Jones would be the #6 which would allow Bradley to play that “regista” role to help out Corona. Corona and Bradley, I think, could compliment each other very nicely. Bradley will control the build up coming from the defense and Jones, get the ball to Corona, and then be available to support Corona.

    and no, Boca should not start. hard to say, but it’s a reality now.

  17. I pose this, do we actually have a player on the roster with the skills and capabilities to play an attacking/creative mid field role. Dempsey has been used in the past but he is not that type of player. The Spurs tried playing him there and it was obvious he lacked the vision to spring other players or the creative touch to create something out of nothing. Don’t get me wrong, Deuce is a great player, just not a number 10. I would argue his most effective games have been when he was utilized as an outside midfielder( early years with USMNT and Fulham). Other options include MB90 (not his skill set) and Joe Corona (to green).

    I think JK should alter the formation not to include an advanced center mid, the 4-4-2 aint sexy but then neither are we, its pointless to try and manufacture that role out of a player not capable of delivering the goods.





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