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USMNT Daily Update: Who should Klinsmann start vs. Belgium? (Updated)

Geoff Cameron

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CLEVELAND- While we went through our traditional exercise of trying to project the U.S. Men’s National Team lineup for Wednesday’s friendly vs. Belgium just a week ago, the myriad of changes in the camp has shaken things up enough to justify another look at the lineup Klinsmann could field against the Belgians.

One player we projected to start vs. Belgium was Maurice Edu, who has been forced out of camp with an injury. That has opened the door for Sacha Kljestan to earn his first USMNT start in almost two years.

There are also some fresh question marks about the defense, with both Geoff Cameron and Jurgen Klinsmann making recent statements suggesting Cameron’s most likely national team position is still centerback. If Cameron doesn’t start at right back, it will mean at least one surprise in the lineup that faces Belgium.

So what lineup could we see against Belgium? Here is our latest crack at the team that could take the field on Wednesday night:


———Jozy Altidore—————–Clint Dempsey———

Herculez Gomez———————————Graham Zusi

—————Sacha Kljestan——-Jermaine Jones———–

DaMarcus Beasley——————————Geoff Cameron

———-Clarence Goodson———–Omar Gonzalez——–

—————————-Tim Howard————————-


Here are some thoughts on the squad:

(UPDATED)- Based on the USMNT’s training session on Tuesday, the above lineup looks like a good bet to be the lineup we see against Belgium.)

If Klinsmann is determined to get some players fit heading into the June qualifiers, he needs his first-choice players on the field as much as possible. That means Altidore starting and it means keeping his first-choice defense together. The right back spot has been hit hard by the absences of Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler, and if Klinsmann still wants Cameron at centerback, that leaves even fewer options at right back. It could mean a chance for Parkhurst to start, but for now Cameron still seems like a good bet to be the right back.

Klinsmann’s decision to start Kljestan is an interesting one considering it marks the first time he has actually started Klinsmann since becoming U.S. head coach. It was as recently as the March qualifier against Mexico that Kljestan wasn’t even asked to warm up for that match. The absences of Edu, Jose Torres and Michael Bradley have given Kljestan a great chance to state his case that he deserves to be higher on the depth chart.

The Matt Besler-Omar Gonzalez centerback tandem did very well against Mexico, but Gonzalez has had his ups and downs in MLS play in the months since. If Klinsmann is concerned about that you can understand why he’d want to have Cameron as his centerback anchor. Cameron is a more experienced option than Gonzalez or Besler, but seems like a better partnership fit with Besler.

(UPDATE– The tandem of Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez worked together at centerback on Tuesday night and if they start vs. Belgium it will be their first start since teaming up in the Snow Game, the national team’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying win vs. Costa Rica.)

This lineup leaves Eddie Johnson out of the equation, and considering he just started on Sunday night for Seattle in MLS play, you could see Klinsmann preferring to use him as a sub on Wednesday and potentially as a starting option vs. Germany on Sunday.


What do you think of this projected lineup? Which change or changes would you make to it?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I thought AZ wasn’t releasing Jozy til the last possible day meaning he wouldn’t be available for this match, did they release him early?


    the goalkeeper goes on the bottom. never on the top. why? because then the defender, midfielders and forwards you list above him will be in the right position. (i.e. the right midfielder will be on the right side, the left back will be on the left side etc…) when you put the keeper on the top it flips your whole line-up around and makes it strange to understand. got it??

  3. love Sasha finally getting a start at his natural position, hopefully he shows the benefits of having a more creative guy in the middle.

  4. For what its worth, I’m glad we have these 2 friendlies before this 3 game stretch. If you think about it this should be the best use of prep time we’ve seen yet in the JK era… considering the 60 or so players that have been called at one point or another and ever changing neurotic lineups… Especially since we can’t overlook the fact that we have 7 guys carrying yellow

    • Honestly anything that leaves parkhurst on the bench is ok with me, considering the rest of the roster selections

  5. ———Howard———–

    This is the absolute best we could hope for but it’s definitely not gonna happen.

  6. Thought the backline in training today was:


    Which seems a bit more plausible as the starting back 4 against Belgium.

  7. I thought I read somewhere that Hazard was not going to play in this game? They have plenty of other options to trouble the US, but he is a handful.
    On another note, count me among those who eventually want to see Fabian on the wing, with someone else at left back. It might hurt our defense a little, but at some point the Nats need to score goals. And I’m all for Klestjan getting the run out, but I also have never been impressed. Is he really a better option than Torres Corona, even Bedoya, who has been playing centrally a lot? Ditto Holden, (IF healthy). Still, he deserves a shot at it.

  8. I want to see Cameron and Besler at CB for two reasons. Besler is a natural lefty and an organizer, the other two are not. I think he has an inside track on one of the slots at CB… Cameron and Omar compete for the other slot. I think Cameron is ahead of Omar because his overall game is better. That said, I wouldn’t put too much emphasis evaluating the CBs in the two friendlies…both games are going to brutal sorting out all the loose ends.

  9. well, if you are going to test it, do it in a friendly. but come qualifiers, unless parkhurst does amazing, cameron should be there at RB. either way, i think Ives is right and this is the lineup we see.

  10. I think we’ll see this vs. Belgium:


  11. Whoever our left back is, they will have their hands full. The last time we played Belgium, Chandler had a solid game and locked down Hazard. I don’t think things go the same this time around. Personally, I’m most interested in how the MF functions in transition and covers the CBs. They will have a stout challenge. I expect that we will be on our heels for much of the game.

    • Hazard is a much better player today than he was then. He MAY be rather exhausted though. He also switches sides for Chelsea so he may wear out both the LB and the RB.

  12. Probable:
    Gomez; Dempsey; Zusi
    Kljestan; Jones
    Beasley; Besler; Gonzo; Cameron

    —— Holden————Kljestan

    I honestly think this best suits what we have talent wise. Beasley has been playing a withdrawn fwd and left for Puebla. Dempsey actually starts on the left for Tottenham then moves central, then moves out of the game. Jones, Kljestan, and Holden essentially can exchange with each other, because they play the same position for their respective clubs. I think Besler, Cameron, and Gonzo should not be allowed to get forward at all. But Besler has more mobility than Cameron and Gonzo and if left in a 2 v 1 situation would do well with Howard. But we are not going to get beat from outside crosses versus Belguim but guys coming Centrally, and I think us being Narrow towards the back, and having two hard workers like Beasley and Zusi on the wing who will help with defending could be good. I know this isn’t conventional soccer this line up, but from Klinnsman’s call ins conventional soccer went out the window.

      • They wouldn’t be backs, but just CB with Besler as a Sweeper. They would rely on Beasley and Zusi for width. Allowing Holden and Sacha to work with Dempsey in the middle of the back, and they are very good at interchanging to wide sides.

  13. Would prefer to see Cameron at RB and Gonzalez at CB. Would also rather see Holden over Klesjtan. Granted Holden may not be ready yet but Klesjtan will never be ready to play at this level.

  14. It’s going to come down to who plays LB the best from our options. I’ve never seen Besler play LB, and he does not play there regularly, Beasley… I have seen play LB & I don’t like what he brings, (except for emergency’s like now) he was couple of blown crosses from being tagged as the worst defender against Mexico.

    Lichai I think would have been a better option considering.

  15. Well at least we now know why he wasn’t calling Cherundolo up. This more than anything was making me question Klinsi’s sanity. Now I will just revert to the callups of Evans, Parkhurst, Shea and Williams as evidence of a possible mental illness, or at very least memory lapses. Does he even remember Russia? Does he read injury reports? Has he watched a Seattle game this season? Maybe now that the Bundesliga season is over we will get a little more and better research prior to these selections.

  16. What I wish the starting 11 would be for tomorrow:

    Beasley Gonzalez Besler Cameron
    Dempsey Jones Kljestan Zusi
    Altidore Boyd

  17. It’s one thing for Lichaj not to get called up at all for a team with slim fullback options but Klinnsmann would rather start a guy who gets no games for his club at RB, rather than play Besler at CB. Then he would play the Santos Laguna forward in midfield, while he has Dempsey and Beasley who feel right at home at the position. Ladies and Gentlemen, your USMNT Head Coach.

    • Could we please put the Lichaj thing to bed? He would not impact the game, and is no better or worse than Parkhurst/Cameron/whoever. Herc actually does play midfield for Santos and Dempsey will find his way forward and centrally regardless of where he starts. If you want to argue for Beasley at wide midfield, then I could be on board for that one.

  18. OR the big surpise might be trying out Besler at LB allowing Beasley to move to the wing:

    Parkhurst gonzo Cameron Beast-ler
    Zusi Klejstan Jones Beast-ley
    Jozy Dempsey

  19. Did u watch omar against vancouver? I mean really watch? His long balls and even his air game were just OFF…im a fan of his but i agree with Ives here

    • well, Omar needs more time to remedy that. but c’mon – Vancouver was 1 game. what about the Sporting KC game? NYRB? Seattle? Omar hasn’t been up and down – Ives is wrong and so are you. He’s been up.

  20. To me Omar should be starting as many games as possible to fully get him up to speed and ready for 2014. I’m assuming he will be one of the starting CB’s of course

  21. Has Omar really had that many ups and downs in the last two months? Seemed like mostly ups fro the games I saw. Some collapses in the Concacaf Champion’s League, but that was a team collapse.

    • I have to agree….the Center backs need to work in tandem…and with Besler having been actually having more of a down start to MLS than Omar….and him being injured and missing a couple of games not too long ago I don’t see how Omar gets benched ahead of Besler…..unless for some weird reason Cameron doesn’t link up well with Omar….and Besler does seem to pair up with him better in training I hope tho that Omar and Cameron get another shot after the hot temps and horrible TEAM Showing in Honduras

    • Besler certainly played great agaist Mexico, but i think people are getting way ahead of themselves to think he’s an automatic starter

    • Agreed. In the past month or two, Omar shut down Thierry Henry; also shutdown Zusi’s attack; and blanketed Seattle’s Eddie Johnson. Omar is on fire. he needs all the playing time he can get to get chemistry with other CBs

  22. Also quite interesting you pick Cameron with Besler and not Gonzalez. But that’s certainly a lot less crazy than starting Parkhurst at RB and forcing Klinsmann to make that CB decision in the first place.

      • Good point, and probably the most accurate one, although that doesn’t seem to be the basis for SBI’s projection.

      • Don’t worry. Gonzalez was could have pitched a tent and woke up 90 minutes later to an, “what’s that? Keene score again??.”

        I am sure he feels just like he barely broke a sweat against my Seattle Sounders. Should be ready to go tomorrow.

  23. “it marks the first time he has actually started Klinsmann since becoming U.S. head coach.”

    That would certainly help with our scoring woes, although I believe he’s cap-tied. 🙂


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