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A closer look at the USMNT depth chart: Central Midfielders

Michael Bradley

Photo by Michael Janosz/


It has been no secret this cycle that the U.S. Men’s National Team’s strength lies in the midfield, particularly in the central positions. Jurgen Klinsmann has a glut of talented players cable of manning the middle of the park, but how many of them earn places on the World Cup roster this summer will be a storyline that is followed very closely in the coming weeks.

The U.S. has a deep crop of central midfielders and the pool has only seemed to grow over the past year-and-a-half. Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey are all but guaranteed spots to Brazil, but they are essentially the only ones, leaving a number of spots up for grabs.

With the U.S. preferring the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 systems throughout World Cup qualifying and in the months leading up to the World Cup, there will be a need for Klinsmann to bring along a strong and deep group of central midfielders to give the Americans the systemic and personnel flexibility to deal with a World Cup group consisting of some extremely tough midfield units.

How many central midfielders Klinsmann should take to the World Cup is up for debate, but it is difficult to envision any scenario in which some talented and deserving players do not miss out on the tournament. From Maurice Edu to Kyle Beckerman to Mix Diskerud, not every player on the fringes will make the team and that makes these final few weeks of preparation utterly important for their World Cup hopes.

Here is a closer look at the central midfield options Klinsmann currently has to pick from:


There is no doubt about Bradley’s role going into Brazil. The U.S. linchpin will be starting the first match vs. Ghana and the ones that follow barring any unforeseen circumstances, and how he performs at the World Cup will be a big determining factor in how far the Americans can go. The 26-year-old Bradley has enjoyed a solid start at Toronto FC this season, erasing fears that some observers had about where his form would be after leaving AS Roma.


Not necessarily a central midfielder like the others listed on here, but Klinsmann has shown a preference to deploy Dempsey in the No. 10 role in the 4-2-3-1 formation. The 31-year-old Dempsey is off to a red-hot start with the Seattle Sounders, scoring goals in bunches and setting up teammates for others. A healthy Dempsey will be in Brazil, and will be a safe bet to start no matter the system Klinsmann employs.


Some might disagree, but Jones is another lock for Brazil. Klinsmann constantly refers to the 32-year-old veteran as part of the nucleus that currently makes up the U.S., and Jones is doing himself no harm by seeing consistent minutes with Turkish powerhouse Besiktas. Jones provides some aggressiveness and bite, things that will be needed against the talented attacking teams the Americans will face in the Group Stage. He is also hungry to play in what will likely be his only World Cup, so there is added incentive for him to show how good he can be following some uneven performance for the U.S. in recent years.


The Real Salt Lake midfielder has really kicked his game into another gear over the past year. Beckerman, 32, continues to be a driving force to Real Salt Lake’s consistent success and he also showed just how valuable he can be to the U.S. midfield – he allows Bradley to roam forward a bit more than any of the other options – in the recent 2-2 draw with Mexico. His tidiness is effective and his status as a “pure giver” make him a Klinsmann favorite and lock to make the World Cup team.


The 28-year-old Edu has really come on strong with the Philadelphia Union this season, reviving his chances of playing in a second consecutive World Cup. Just as beneficial to Edu’s quest of making it to this summer’s tournament is his versatility. He has shown he can play centerback in a pinch if needed, and that could warrant a place on the final roster.


Diskerud showed in 2013 that he can make an impact at the international level, but his start to the season with Rosenborg BK has hurt his standing a bit. Diskerud has gotten the nod in just one of the club’s four games at the beginning of the new Tippeligaen campaign, and that trend is likely to impact the 23-year-old midfielder’s form if it continues. Diskerud’s passing ability and touch make him an intriguing player, but he will probably have to prove there is not much rust to his game when the U.S. begins its camp next month in order to punch his ticket to Brazil.


Another player who has enjoyed a good run of form in recent months, Williams has a strong case to be included in Klinsmann’s plans. The 25-year-old Williams has become a regular contributor for a Reading team that’s on the brink of trying to secure promotion to the English Premier League, and he has scored three goals since February to demonstrate that he is also capable of adding to the attack. Unfortunately for him, nagging knee issues have cost him playing time down the stretch and at this point he isn’t a lock to be invited to the pre-World Cup training camp, let alone be a part of the World Cup squad.


Four years after being one of the final cuts, Kljestan has seen his chances of playing in his first World Cup this summer severely hindered by inconsistent playing time at RSC Anderlecht. The 28-year-old Kljestan has not started in a match for the club in nearly a month, and has just two starts since Feb. 22. He does offer a different skillset than most of the other options in the pool, but earning an invite to next month’s camp seems far from guaranteed right now.


A year ago, Corona seemed like a good bet to make it to Brazil. Now, he is a darkhorse. Corona continues to see his role with Club Tijuana change from week to week, but his technical qualities and ability to play out wide should help his cause. Klinsmann has raved about Corona in the past, so there is still a chance the 23-year-old midfielder earns an invite to the May camp. It is far from a given though considering the competition in central midfield. He may have a better chance being called up as a wide midfield option.


Has improved his chances of making it to Brazil in recent weeks with some goal-scoring performances, but where he exactly fits in the U.S. setup is a big question. The 26-year-old veteran has been used mostly on the outside by Klinsmann, and has failed to deliver a real impactful performance. The fact that Torres did not receive a call-up to the friendly vs. Mexico earlier this month does not bode well for his chances, but he still could be called in to the U.S. camp if he continues to find the back of the net with regularity.


What do you think of the USMNT’s current pool of forwards? Which players do you think will be taken to Brazil? Who should start at the World Cup? Why?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Joe Corona and Gringo Torres both need to be brought into the May camp for assessment. Both have a lot to offer and, I think, are better choices for Brazil than Mix Diskerud, who apparently has not been playing regularly in Norway. And I don’t see Julian Green being gifted a ticket to Brazil ahead of Corona or Torres (or Mix) or Bedoya or about a dozen others.

  2. The real question that needs answering, neither asked nor answered in this article, is who are the two center mids and what are their roles if Bradley has to miss one or more games? We have plenty of answers for pairing with Bradley. But who distributes and ignites the attack if Bradley is out? I think Klinsmann has Jones doing that. But I would suggest that Beckerman is really the #2 behind Bradley. I don’t know how he would pair with Jones. If Jones won’t defer to Bradley to get forward, he sure as hell won’t defer to an MLS player.

    • Similar to when we had Reyna running things in the middle. If we don’t have him (either Reyna or Bradley) we are in deep doo-doo. Dempsey tried to play that role against Ukraine, maybe Donovan could try it, but we don’t have anyone else really comparable.

    • A. Bite your tongue… j/k
      B. Most likely depends on the opponent. Since most feel we will not win the possession battle in this group, my bet would be on a JJ Beckerman pairing to keep the game close until late if it were Portugal or Germany.. with a late sub depending if we needed a goal or playing for a point.
      C. If something tragic like him not being healthy for Ghana, or going down in that game, I’d say Edu and JJ. I think Ghana is faster but less disciplined and Edu could run with them
      D. Don’t ever.. ever… ask this again please….

    • Thats the mistake a lot of people make Klinsmann always goes the do what you are best at way. So if Bradley goes out you bring in the next best central midfielder and adjust by bringing in a guy like Williams and asking JJ to hold the fort and stay back instead of just dragging along a Beckerman. Thats my main issue with Beckerman he’s only an average DM at best and he isn’t versatile.

  3. —– —howard——–
    cam–besler—goodson?—–fab john

    Subs: Parkhurst, Brooks? Gonz, Beasley,
    Zusi, Bedoya, ArJo, Beckerman,
    Boyd, Johnson
    Guzan, Rimando
    Subject to change immediately after post.

  4. Jones and Mix aren’t even real Americans. They grew-up and played in FOREIGN lands. They shouldn’t have the right to represent USA. This just doesn’t sit well with me.

      • What don’t you understand? I want Americans that grew-up in this culture, this language, and play in OUR U.S. youth soccer. These 2 are just lucky to have citizenship just because of how are flawed citizenship process is designed.

      • I don’t understand how some chump can still imagine anyone gives a shi*t about hearing your wack @ass whine. You’d have to have been asleep for a thousand years not to have heard that. Almost like Rip Van… oh.. hhahahahaha….

    • According to Sarah Palin, I’m not a “real American” either because I live in liberal Seattle. We all have our definitions….

  5. well done article. like the descriptions and analysis of the players.

    Beckerman “giver”.
    Jones…could be his only WC cup…hungry.

  6. US Central MidField depth chart….

    ….(the ghosts of Reyna, Ramos and O’Brien)

    Jones, Beckerman, Edu, Williams, Mixx, Klestjan, Torres, Cameron

    • That highlights the question I have: since no one in our pool can replace Bradley, what does JK if/when he needs to come out? Or if/when the opposition’s game plan is to strangle the US by shutting Bradley out?

      The US needs to find a lineup that excludes Bradley but still manages to be functional (if not threatening). I think looking for a Bradley substitute is a lost cause.

      • Crap. That’s a good point. How have i not thought of it from the opponents angle yet? Their obvious scouting report is gonna say to suffocate Bradley. They’ll mark him with their best d mid to essentially neutralize each other. And I don’t think we can play through our wings better than our opponents.

        What different formations should we run if we don’t have him? (I’m imagining a McBride/DeRossi esque elbow to take him out of the match)

      • Well, the obvious solution is the one JK has been trying ever since he began: Play both JJ and MB as tag-team #8’s. That way when the defense tries to tight-mark Bradley out of the game, he just slyly drifts back while Jones pushes the attack, thereby catching the opposing D-mid way out of position. (Excuse the impossible comparison, but Xavi is great because of Iniesta and vice versa.)

        And this is exactly what so many of us (myself included) have been screaming at Jones for doing. We want him to “stay back so ‘the General’ can do his thing.” The teams in the WC will shut down our General, so we had better hope we have have Colonel Jones ready to push forward.

        And if not Jones, then who? Beckerman does not play that role—he’d be a Major at best. Mix? He’s good with the passing, but lacks the defense of Bradley, Jones, or Beckerman.

        None of this is a problem of course if we don’t need Bradley going forward; i.e., when we play defensively against Germany.

      • The other option, which we’ve barely seen from JK, is to go with a different formation. No more 4-2-3-1 that relies so heavily on Bradley playing the #8 role.

        Switch to a flat 4-4-2, or go with a 4-3-3, or a 4-1-2-2-1-1 (yeah, I’m just making stuff up now to reveal how desperate we may be!).

      • I personally think we could make a strong case for deploying a true 4-3-3, if it weren’t for one major issue.. We don’t have a central defense pair that is strong enough. I’d argue that we’d be more effective in the midfield and up top, with a lot of guys that are versatile. But our CBs are weak.
        Example: Is Pirlo a “destroyer” or a defensive standout at Juve? No, he’s a deep lying CM who controls the game and works better with space.
        Example: As awesome is Barca is, what happens when their CBs get exposed… Well we’ve seen what can happen the last few weeks. Take Pique out of the game and it’s been worse. You could even say the same thing about Bayern without Thiago when they went 4-3-3…
        I think we’d have more opportunity to get AJ involved, Deuce with more freedom, LD as well, and the issue of JJ getting caught out of position or not meshing with MB could all be addressed. Bedoya and Zusi are more than capable of playing outside mid in that formation…
        We’ve got good personnel for it… except for the CBs

        My two pennies…

      • Bac, excellent point. It really does come down to the centerbacks—our “spine” is a bit weak in the lumbar region.

        Okay, someone cheer me up: who are our promising young centerbacks?

  7. It still blows my mind how slept on Benny is. He’s one of the more talented players in our pool and he’s killing ish for SKC lately. I really hope he finds himself on the 23 man roster.

    • Agreeance. Guy’s got a sweet touch and looks real comfortable on the ball, which is still rare for the US player.

      however, i guess there’s something in Benny’s game that is not up to snuff…a number of coaches (here and overseas) and he’s never seemed to achieve his potential.

      • I’m a huge Benny apologist. That said, on the International Level:
        1) He doesn’t have the speed to play on the wing
        2) He doesn’t stay high enough up the field to support the lead striker, so isn’t great in the “#10” role.
        3) Doesn’t have the physicality to play as one of the two center mids
        4) Isn’t Pirlo (so you can’t really justify him as the “deep lying playmaker”
        5) No 1-4 also apply to Torres, who is even more lacking than Benny in all of these areas

        If we do use the 4-4-2 diamond, There’s potentially a role for him at the top of the diamond, or on the right (MB then play the DM spot), but this really wouldn’t be our best 11 imo.

  8. Is the 4-4-2 diamond not an option anymore? I mean have we seen that it will clearly not work? or is this group just not conducive to it?

    If I had a better idea of LD’s defensive workrate, I would just say put them in the diamond with MB up top, LD left pushing in toward the center; AB on the right; and JJ in the DM position. Zusi can sub in for either side (though preferred on the right). KB and Mo can replace both play DM, as can Danny.

    Or perhaps we didn’t like the 4-4-2?

    • I’ve always been a fan of the diamond generally although I’m not sure it works that well with the USMNT’s personnel. 4-2-3-1 seems to be the en vogue formation but I think the old fashioned 4-4-2 (not the diamond variety) works best with this squad.

      • Agreed. It was fun to watch the first half vs Mexico, but to deploy the diamond in Brazil you’d need two things, absolute trust in your back four, and opponents that wouldn’t break it down with ease… neither of which we have

      • Liverpool plays a diamond and have a very questionable back four.

        Of course, Bradley is not Gerrrard,and I’m not sure any of our midfielders and forwards compare to Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling Henderson or Coutinho.

      • Yeah, Liverpool’s strategy is, “go ahead and score; we’ll be over here scoring twice as much.”

        Prediction: next season they will field a keeperless squad in the first ever 0-1-2-8 formation.

  9. A bit off topic but Jozy Altidore has made worst EPL 11 list for the season: “possessing a shot conversion rate of 5.88 percent, while his pass accuracy of 67.2 percent sums up the quality of his hold-up play.”

    • Pfff, Roberto Soldado is a bigger bust. His team is actually competent and I think he has the same number of goals from open play.(1 goal the rest are pens) A $30 million bench player.

      • Its kinda sad that people arent debating whether jozy is better than a player but instead arguing why one player is much more bad than he is

      • Is it, really? He can easily just go back to the Dutch league, like Johannsson, or MLS, like Clint or Bradley and be hailed as a World Beater in 8 months time, so…

        Anyways, Van Wolfswinkel is a bigger bust.

      • I would be concerned if it was skysports or the Guardian. Goal is US centered and this makes a good headline

    • Does the stat take into consideration how far the next player is from Altidore when he tries that pass? Has anyone in the Prem played the season more on an island than he has?

  10. Whether the #10 is a forward, midfielder, trequaristsa, striker-playing-in-the-hole, or whatever, I think we all agree that it’s “the guy in the middle who’s going to line up behind Jozy”

    I think the only two players we have that can capably play the position (i.e. both play off the lead forward and get into the box, and also connect with the rest of the mid-field) are Dempsey and Donovan. Maybe Sacha or Mix as the depth here? Maybe Corona could develop here (but not for this cycle)? I think Bedoya plays here once in a while at the club level?

    I think the rest either don’t do enough in possession and are really forwards (for example AJ, EJ, Wondo, and so forth) and are really strikers in a traditional 4-4-2, or else don’t give us enough going to goal (Mix, Sacha, Benny, Torres).

    For the true center-mid roles (in the 4-2-3-1) I’d start Bradley and JJ, with Beckerman and Edu (over Williams) rounding out the 4 I’d take to Brazil. I just don’t see Mix being able to give enough defensively

    I think Dempsey starts as the #10, with Donovan sliding over from the wing if Dempsey isn’t on the field. I don’t think I’d trust anyone else in this spot.

  11. Some good observations here. My 2 cents:

    – agree that Mix isn’t our answer as a Deuce backup or a true box-to-box CM. He is a CAM, especially at the international level, but playing (sometimes) in Norway doesn’t cut it. We have better options in better leagues (Bedoya in Ligue 1, Zusi in MLS, Joe Corona in Liga MX, even LD)

    – as Bac said, I don’t remember us playing a 4-3-3. I remember it being basically a 4-5-1 with 5 holding mids :-)….. Right now, we have much more interesting prospects in a 4-3-3. Bedoya, Zusi, D Will, Edu and even Beckerman could all complement MB90 and JJ, all depending on MB90’s offensive involvement. The 2 forwards/1 striker options are also abundant in this formation. Lots of possibilities, including Jozy/EJ/Wondo/Boyd as potential center forward options, and LD, Johansson, Zusi, Bedoya as potential wing forward options. Would be interesting to see indeed… Maybe one of the friendlies we can see it.

      • I know its tough to compare leagues, but what makes you say that? Ive never really seen any Norwegian league games, so I am curious…

      • These comparisons between leagues that never face each other always remind me of questions like, “Who would win in a fight between Superman and the Incredible Hulk?” Any answer will be based on imagination.

      • Funny comparison, but I do see the relevance to comparing the level of league. Apparently JK does too.. IE, Ale Bedoya in France

        Not to mention, league competitiveness and $$ go hand-in-hand. Best players in best leagues. Coincidence? No

      • That was like 7 years ago when Feilhaber sat on the bench somewhere in Scandinavia. And sure, Goodson came back (better $$). Put it this way, would any Scandinavian league have attracted players like Titi Henry, Jermaine Defoe, Michael Bradley, Robbie Keane, Marco Di Vaio, etc?

      • Chad barrett, and charlie davies became benchwarmers when they were there and that was all after the world cup. And no they would not go to scandinavia because scandinavia did not want to drop the cash. The only reason those big foreign names come is because of the cash

      • Chad Barrett? Hhhmmmm, not exactly Brian McBride, is he? 😉

        And CD, I think we all, unfortunately, know why he isn’t at his best now.. He did quite well at Hammarby before his accident. Had a decent time at DC United, but after didn’t get off the bench anywhere, Randers and now NE.

      • Chad barret dosent have to be mcbride, he was an mls regular. Also jaime alas got like 2 appearances in 2 years in norway and then played like 6 games in a couple months on loan with quakes

  12. I like what Klinsmann did his cycle with the amount of competition he created the 30 man squad is even hard to predict much less the 23. From the Central Midfielders:

    WC 23 – Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones

    I know there are a lot of Kyle Beckerman fans on SBI but to be honest he was never able to beat anyone out for PT early in the cycle and didn’t start shining till that Sponsor banquet we call the Gold Cup. The only reason I consider him an asset is because he plays in MLS and he’s going to be used to all the traveling and the heat we are going to be playing in during the WC. Same goes for Jose Torres and Joe Corona.

    Our CB situation will tell us if Maurice Edu has a chance. From Watching Danny Williams in England recently theres almost no way he’s not getting on that plane to Brazil. Reading looked hopeless during those games he missed due to injury and the English game seems to have taken him to that next level Klinsmann is always talking about. As for Mix Diskerud he’s probably the best passer out of the top 3 but he better play his heart out in those warm games or its back to Norway.

    Sacha Kljesten has talent but he just doesn’t fit this group.

  13. I like what Klinsmann did his cycle with the amount of competition he created the 30 man squad is even hard to predict much less the 23. From the Central Midfielders:

    WC 23 – Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones

    I know there are a lot of fans on SBI but to be honest he was never able to beat anyone out for PT early in the cycle and didn’t start shining till that Sponsor banquet we call the Gold Cup. The only reason I consider him an asset is because he plays in MLS and he’s going to be used to all the traveling and the heat we are going to be playing in during the WC. Same goes for and .

    Our CB situation will tell us if has a chance. From Watching in England recently theres almost no way he’s not getting on that plane to Brazil. Reading looked hopeless during those games he missed due to injury and the English game seems to have taken him to that next level Klinsmann is always talking about. As for he’s probably the best passer out of the top 3 but he better play his heart out in those warm games or its back to Norway.

    has talent but he just doesn’t fit this group.

    • You left out some name but I know who you are talking about. Mix vs Williams.

      Have you seen Williams play its really hard to see championship games? I will say that you can just look at Reading’s record and see that when they have a bad run its because Williams is out. The Championship is a solid tough league.(Top 10 world Wide although its hard to rate Asian leagues.)

      I think he needs a call in just to look at him.

    • If you just did what I think you did, this is maybe the best post ever. The one below it is an utter disappointment by comparison.

      Templates. Genius.

  14. MB and JJ are absolutely the starters, IMO. but the battle for the depth spots is going to be fascinating to watch as well. i cannot wait for the May camp to start and to get reports on how everyone looks. and to see who makes the 30.

    • bryan: would you go with depth that provides backup or that provides options?

      For example, if we assume that JK plays his favored 4-2-3-1, we can pretty well predict that the 5 midfielders are: LD, Deuce, Zusi, with JJ and MB behind.

      In the backup model, I see Beckerman as the obvious pick. Taking Beckerman doesn’t preclude taking Edu as well—in fact, maybe it’s more a race between Edu and Williams than between Edu and Beckerman. (I’m not going to let you say Torres because we both know JK sees him as a winger.)

      Bedoya is the obvious backup to Zusi/LD, but do you bring one more as well? Corona?

      But who could fill Dempsey’s role? Mix is the only one I see, but he’s more a playmaker than a goalscorer. In which case, I’d be tempted to switch to a 4-4-2 if Clint ever leaves the field. Or play Aron as the #10 (which might effectively turn into a 4-4-2.)

      In the options model, I’m thinking of Klinsmann going for diversity: a completely different style against each Group Stage opponent. Then it’s no longer a question of “Who would best replace X?” and more a question of “Who brings something totally different from X?”

      Put another way, who would you start in midfield if you wanted to control the game against Ghana (or at least trade punches), choke the midfield and counterattack against Portugal, and survive against Germany?

      • i think JK could probably find a way to have a hybrid game plan when building this roster. we have enough players with versatility to come up with a roster that will not only provide depth but also allows us to change up formations.

        i agree with the midfield you listed, although i could easily see Bedoya at RM over Zusi. that’ll depend on camp, but it wouldn’t be a total surprise. but, i’ll stick with your lineup.

        with Bedoya, you have a guy who can play RM, LM, or CM. he not only gives you a bench option and a like-for-like sub, but you could throw him in and change the formation, if needed. if we move to a 4-4-2, him, Mix, and Corona can all play that attacking mid position if Dempsey is up top and Bradley plays deeper. in a 4-3-3, he could play wide or as one of the “3” mids. he’s played RW and “CAM” for Nantes pretty much all season, so he’s capable.

        if that is the case, you could leave someone like Mix home who stopped getting minutes (although he appears to be back). if you leave Mix home, you could bring an extra #6 or #8 to provide back up and options. i tend to agree that Beckerman appears to have that #6 backup role locked down. so that leaves Edu v. Williams, like you said. with Edu, you have a capable #6 backup as well as an option for CB. with Williams, you have a guy who is another capable #6 but he has also shown for Reading that he can be a #8. so again, back up and option models can be utilized with either pick. to be honest, i think Beckerman gives you the least versatility out of the three. and no, i do NOT think Williams can or should play RM lol. i hope to never see that again…much like Torres at LM or LB. i don’t care if it’s a box midfield, both are better central.

        in short, i guess what i’m thinking is that JK has more than enough options to build a roster that allows him to do both. i certainly don’t think we should approach every game completely different, but there will obviously be the need to adjust tactics. having flexibility in the roster helps allow for that. i think this would be my 23, based on right now:

        GK: Howard, Guzan, Rimando
        D: Cameron, Beasley, FJ, Omar, Besler, Gooch (yup), Brooks (yup), Parkhurst
        M: Jones, Bradley, Williams, LD, Dempsey, Bedoya, Zusi, Corona
        S: Jozy, AJ, Boyd, EJ

        Goodson has looked pretty poor for SJ, so i honestly would leave him off. and i like him. but i understand most people might disagree given i have Gooch and Brooks going. but those 8 defenders give you multiple options to go with. but i do think Castillo still has a good shot to make it over someone like Parkhurst. not nearly as versatile, but can play LB, LM, or LW.

        for midfield, that’s right, i went with no Beckerman and added Corona instead. i’d rather have Williams than Beckerman and I see no need to bring both over someone like Mix or Corona. as for Edu, i wouldn’t be upset if he made it over Williams, but i’m sticking with Williams.

        for strikers, Wondo fans will not like those 4, but i think those 4 end up going.

      • and those 23, to your point, allow for both back up and option models:

        Cameron: RB, CDM, CB smooth passer
        Beasley: LB, LM, LW
        FJ: LB, LM, LW, RB
        Omar: CB, dominate in the air
        Besler: CB, smooth passer
        Gooch: CB, dominate in the air
        Brooks: CB, dominate in the air
        Parkhurst: LB, RB, CB smooth passer

        Jones: CDM, CM
        Bradley: CDM, CM
        Williams: CDM, CM
        LD: LM, RM, CAM, ST
        Dempsey: CAM, ST
        Bedoya: RM, LM, CAM
        Zusi: RM, CAM, LM
        Corona: CAM, RM, LM

        Jozy: ST
        AJ: ST, false 9
        Boyd: ST
        EJ: ST, LW

      • bryan: I really like this. I don’t like leaving Wondo or Beckerman out, but I also don’t like leaving EJ or Williams out. Maybe I wouldn’t bring both Brooks and Gooch. That would free up one more mid spot (although, why?). I’m not sold on Corona, but that might be because I haven’t seen him with the national team for too long.

        Also, this is gospel truth: “i think Beckerman gives you the least versatility out of the three. and no, i do NOT think Williams can or should play RM lol. i hope to never see that again…much like Torres at LM or LB.”

      • Beckerman and Wondo are essentially our B team guys. They aren’t fast enough for the international game proper. That GC man people start thinking they are international caliber guys. Remember Wondo played Ok against Belize and Cuba, Couldn’t score and struggled against Costa Rica and and Honduras and got benched in the final against Panama. His poor play and Gomez’s injury got EJ called in after the group stage. Here’s an example of Beckermans world class play against Belize

      • yeah, there are certainly arguments to be made for not bringing both Gooch and Brooks, but i just have a feeling that is going to happen.

        as for Corona, i have some bias. i am a Xolos fan and get to watch him every week. he’s been playing great since he came back form injury, got back to form, and started playing again. still not ideal in terms of PT, but i like that he can play in the middle or either wing.

      • ” i do NOT think Williams can or should play RM lol. i hope to never see that again…much like Torres at LM or LB.”

        The USMNT won those games.

      • GW! Come on man, not because of them! Thy are not meant for that postion. You know it. They are central mids. 6 or 8.

  15. I’m a little confused why there has been recent mention of our “preferred formations” as the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1.
    I know we’ve often started in the 4-2-3-1, and switched to a 4-4-2, (or more less a 4-4-1-1 with Deuce playing off the forward…)
    But I don’t recall playing a 3 man midfield, or having just one central midfielder, since Jurgen first took over

      • yeah, he was pretty regularly using 4-3-3 in that stretch that we weren’t doing too well. then switched to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1, and we’ve pretty much stuck with that ever since.

      • Exactly. Thank you. And this isn’t the only place I’ve read that comment recently, saw it on another board and heard it on one of the podcasts. When I hear our “experts” refer to a lineup we haven’t used in almost 2 years as one of our preferred formations I wonder how much depth is really going into their reporting.

    • We play a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 but it depends on who’s playing. If it’s Bedoya or Landon in the game they tend to play wide but When Zusi plays he pinches in a lot and doesn’t go forward as much so it looks like a 4-4-1-1. During the WC i’m pretty sure it’ll be an organized 4-2-3-1

    • here’s to people jumping to conclusions based on assumptions of playing style. I dont believe JJ has ever put the USMNT in a bad spot due to yellow cards. Let me know if I missed something.

      • I too am a Jones apologist, and I was happy to see him get through the hex without a suspension (it only takes 2 yellows). But I wouldn’t go so far as to say he doesn’t make me nervous. Not at all. The guy still holds the Schalke club record for red cards, and he picked up 7 yellows for the USMNT in one year alone in 2012. And when he fouls, he can be reckless.

        I hope he continues to exercise decent judgement as he has recentlyfor the USMNT, but I have to say it’s a valid concern. I don’t like the though of him sitting out there for 60+ minutes against a quality attack on a yellow.

      • usually the yellow card is the result of a stupid foul …in a stupid location. I’ve seen him make some silly challenges in silly places.

        last thing we need to give up free kicks to Germany in bad spots.

        it’s not so much the yellow card..and suspension…it’s the free kick that goes with it.

    • I’d understand if people kept using cards as a knock against JJ if, for example, those cards hurt the team due to red cards or yellow card accumulation suspensions. That is not the case, however. Generally, JJ fouls with the intent to stop the opponent’s offensive momentum, and in that sense he fulfills the destroyer role perfectly, which is what Klinsy wants from him.

  16. I think there’s still some questions about Mix making the 23. Is he strong enough defensively to play in central midfield or is really only an option at attacking midfield? I see Donovan and Bedoya the more likely back ups to Dempsey. So is Mix a backup to Bradley if the US play a diamond? I’m just not sure how Klinsmann really plans to use him.

    • Given how often Klinsmann has explicitly criticized Diskerud for being weak on the ball, I’d guess he doesn’t use him at all.

    • I seee the same issue with Mix (and Sacha and Joe), are the offensive skills enough to make up for thier lack of defensive skills? I dont think they are. I would take Danny Williams over those options.

    • In his games for the USA, I thought Mix did very well when the opposition gave him some time and space, when the other team pressured him early and hard, he had trouble keeping the ball and failed to do anything positive. For me, Edu is a better choice since it is unlikely the US will not be under pressure for long stretches and I think Edu could handle that pressure better. F or me it is Bradley, Jones, Dempsey, Edu and Beckermann. (Beckermann seems to make Bradley a more effective player and that can matter.)

  17. Can Bradley just change the name on his jersey to “The General?” Like mentioned, as he goes, so does the USA.

  18. This is definitely our deepest position and one with the most talent. I don’t think it should be up for debate as to who should start, JJ and MB are our the best options hands down. KB is a solid back up and can fill in, in a pinch, and I believe Edu can also fill the same role. I believe JK should stick with the more defensive type of CM and leave Mix and Sacha home, I don’t see their skill set being effective against our group opponents. We need junk yard dogs in the middle of the park.

    • Im just not sure it is clear cut as you think. JJ doesn’t have the same defensive awareness as someone like Beckerman which means Bradley needs to stay back more. Bradley can be extremely dangerous going forward but if his partner doesn’t have position discipline it can be bad for the US.

      • I agree that his positioning and even passing completion may be off at times. Buts when he is on he covers soooo much ground and and has better range then KB. I do like the KB MB combo I just believe that with all the players playing up to thier potential JJ will provide thing KB never could. KB is the more consistent of the two but JJ can be more of a game changer.

      • Im not even a particularly big Beckerman fan, I just see that those two work extremely well together. Jones just seems to not be where he should be a decent amount of the time and it can be frustrating. Also I always cringe when he picks up and early yellow, he knows how to play on a yellow well but the danger is always there then.

      • Yea but this will actually be the first time ever that MB and JJ will be training together for an extended period of time, with 3 warm up games in there too.
        Don’t forget that most of Jones’ career at Shalke was spent as a deep lying middie, and between injuries and short prep time, they actually haven’t spent that much time together.
        I wouldn’t punt on JJ’s potential impact just yet

      • we’re going to need them all…pretty tough to play just 2 MFs in all 3 of those games and not lose something to wear and tear, and since it’s out deepest position I’m thinking Klinnsman will utilize that fact

      • Has JJ ever put the US in a bad spot due to yellow cards or silly fouls? Serious question, I cant recall him ever doing it. His reputation seems to preceed his actual play.

      • I can’t remember which game it was during qualifying a while back, he brought somebody down from behind on a counter, and I think he took some heat for it but he was covering a giveaway from someone else.
        But I get your point, there seems to be a difference in perception and reality

      • exactly, there may be one game where he messed up royally in that regard. 39 caps and if people can only remember one example, then he’s doing alright in my book.

        this is not me saying he has played consistently though. that is another story. he’s been very inconsistent which i think is the much bigger issue than this idea he will be a card machine and liability.

      • Bringing somebody down from behind on a counter is often the optimal defensive play.

        Unless you’re arguing aesthetics, in which case have at it.

      • I have thought this for a long time. His most reckless challenge tht i remember resulting ina card was vs. brazil, and that one had sent a very specific measaage. I just think Jk needs to be clear, its not. A dual pivot anymore. Is a cdm and attacking mid. Dempsey could play just under JA and offset in front of MB

      • Do you guys really think Jones and MB are not trying to do exactly what JK tells them to?

        Because if they can’t follow his direction over as long a period as you seem to imply then do you really think JK would refer to them as the spine of the team?

        If is out there just freelancing and doing what he wants then how long do you think JK would put up with it?

        JK is the guy who drops Donovan for looking bad in training for an exhibition game, remember?

        As for the yellow card stuff JJ knows how to play with a card better than anyone on that team

      • JJ proved to me he could handle it by not succumbing to the endless baiting from our CONCACAF buddies. He has handled that great

        @GW…of course they do what is asked, and they also play instinctually at times, like all other players. further, if the tactics are for JJ to push forward when MB is already up there, as you appear to suggest, then that raises other questions imo

      • GW, beachbum: Let’s see if we can rephrase this in terms that include all of the thoughtful views here.

        JK apparently wants JJ and MB to play as interchangeable #8/6’s—when one moves forward, the other drops back and vice versa. Thus, JK hasn’t benched JJ for pushing forward (thereby forcing MB to drop back) because JJ is doing exactly what has been asked of him.

        Well, almost exactly. See, the plan is for JJ and MB to communicate and coordinate. There have clearly been dozens of times they haven’t done that effectively enough, as evidenced by both of them being caught out of position or MB seeming to hold back to cover for JJ when MB looked to have a good opportunity to push forward. Which is unfortunate because MB is the better #8.

        And the errors are all JJ’s fault—except the ones that aren’t, because communication works two-ways. But we can’t put any blame on MB because…because…because we just can’t. (And we certainly can’t withhold blame and recognize that learning takes time.)

        We all want MB to pull the strings as a #8. Which is why no WC opponent will allow him to. Which is why we need JJ to tag-team the #8 role, forcing opponents to redirect, be indecisive, etc.

        JJ is not a great #8, but he’s a lot better than MB when MB is being shadowed by 1-2 D-mids tasked with nothing but shutting him out of the game.

      • I would say be careful, because he made quite a habit of it for Schalke, and with the Germans and Schalke teammate KP Boateng in our group, he may be a target.

        He has been been fairly sound for the USMNT other than the stretch in 2012 where we somehow picked up a bunch of yellows in 10 months, but this is a concern, particularly if he gets one early. His hard fould are… well.. . very hard.

        I think JK has found a way to manage this. I hope I’m right and we’re not just lucky.

      • he did have to serve a suspension in the quals before the hex due to card accumulation, but since we were playing teams like barbados or whatever, i wouldn’t say it really put us in a bad spot.

      • This has to stop people comparing Jones to Beckerman they aren’t in the same class at all. Ever since Beckerman played in the Gold Cup his hype machine went through the roof, I wonder what people would be saying If Jermaine had played in the tournament.

      • I said above I’m not a huge Beckerman fan at all I just get concerned that JJ’s positioning issues sometimes prevent us from getting the full impact of Bradley. If someone like Edu keeps playing well I’d actually be interested in seeing him play, he has played real well so far this year.

      • to be fair to JJ, he doesn’t really have positioning issues. Klinsmann has repeated that he feels JJ is a #8 and that him and Bradley play a dual #8 system for the US.

        until JK tells them to stop playing that system, it’s hard to blame JJ for playing as a #8. i think we all agree Klinsmann should tell JJ to stick to a #6 role like he did at Schalke for so many years and allow Bradley to be the #8. but until then, i’m not sure it’s completely fair to criticize JJ for being out of position.

      • Thats fair, from the last couple years of watching the US I just think they tend to play better with a true #6 in the lineup. If JJ wants to play that role then great, but with two CMs marauding forward against the likes of Portugal and Germany, it could be a very long day.

      • i agree. JK likes to say they will read each other and when one gets forward the other won’t. but we’ve all seen it’s hasn’t been that simple. hopefully they can work that out in camp.

      • JJ should have stayed with the Germans. We should put only real Americans on the field to represent the red, white and blue.

      • don’t start this nonsense, JJ clearly cares about the US team, I mean he just got a giant American flag tatoo.

      • So true. JJ at his best – and you have to assume he will be playing a his best, in everyone’s dream tourney, the World Cup – is in a very rare category of footballers. He’s an absolute horse that can boss a midfield. I haven’t seen an Besiktas games, but his form should show in camp.

      • Beckerman’s success has come against weaker or less athletic squads. The Mexico game was great for a half, but el Tri ran over the US in the second hlf for long stretches. And they were not full strength. My fear is his lack of pace and size/strength will be highlighted against the group we are in.

      • Absolutely, US fans are basing this Michael Bradley as #10 theme off one half of one game against a weakened CONCACAF team. The US will not be able to play in that style against the level of competition we will face. With a center of Beckerman, Besler and Gonzalez, thats a dangerous mix for getting caught out for pace.

      • What Beckermann does that Jones does not is play within himself. Jones makes some bad passes and turn-overs because he is trying to pull off plays that are a bit beyond his talent. If he had the self-discipline of Beclkermann who seems to seldom try anything cute or fancy, Jones would be much better.

    • Jones has one huge possitive in that he is an intimidating midfield presence. However he draws far too many yellows which in a tournament can kill you. His passing too be polite sucks. He gets caught out of position far too often leaving a gapping hole for counter attacks to easily take advantage of. To me the negatives would make me think long and hard about him being in the 23 and how and when to play him. I still think he will be in Brazil.

      • Problem is Beckerman is slower and vs a team like Ghana we need a guy with legs. Beckerman might be better against German as were are not going to be pushing out much and need to stay more compact.

        We need them both for different things.

      • Ya, He would be super up for it. The motivation in that game would be amazing. I’m just saying that player wise calm boring Beckerman style is better for that game.

      • Drawing yellows in a tournament doesn’t kill you. It suspends you for a later game. I don’t get why this would be a reason to not start someone.

        Why enforce the suspension voluntarily before he actually earns one?

      • You’re kidding about being in the 23, right? He’s the only player on the squad who can remotely put some trepidation into the heart of a world-class mid. When has Kyle Beckerman even been on the pitch against someone like Ronaldo with anything on the line?

        If I was ranking players in terms of importance to the US’s chances in Brazil, the first would be Bradley by a mile. Next would be Jones or Cameron.

    • Different role, different type of player. To some degree of course, every player is in competition for a roster spot, but Edu’s main competition comes from Beckerman, Williams, Cameron (his flexibility may mean fewer defensive mids are taken), and (maybe to a lesser extent) Sacha.

      Mix would probably be looked at as depth for Dempsey or an attacking sub when we need to press for a goal. He’s gotten a look or two in the box-to-box role, but Klinsmann seems to like him the way Benny was used in 2010. Point being, there is a perfectly legitimate reason Mix could make it over Edu. We have precious few players capable of creating in the attack.

      • Obviously he is a different type of player but with Portugal and Germany in our group we will not be controlling the possession and Mixx can’t play good enough defense to merit a spot. Mixx will be gobbled up by Ghana’s athletic midfield. Edu covers more ground, is much more versatile, and has world cup experience. Mixx has been awful this season and continues to show his limitations. If you want to debate about who to bring on as a late game sub as an attacking mid, Bedoya is a much better option

      • I don’t think there’s a competition between edu and mix.

        We will need strong defensive minded mids yes, but it does no good to carry 5 of them. It’s hard to imagine a scenario that would require us to have both edu AND beckerman on the bench. So those two are in fighting for the same spot.

        It’s very likely, though, that we’ll find ourselves trailing in a game where we must get a result. In that case, who would you rather insert, edu or mix?

      • The correct answer is neither, but in a pinch for a goal, I’ll take Edu. He seems to find a way to poach goals whether for the US, Rangers or even in MLS.

      • One call up due to a groin injury sandwiched by months of not making the bench at Stoke. I don’t dislike Edu, but Mix is the better choice.

      • I doubt you know enough about why Edu was frozen out at Stoke. His situation seems similar to MBtfc’s situation when he was at Villa.

        It’s not always about talent and if Edu is doing well now his time at Stoke is irrelevant.

        Mo is a more proven commodity, and a much tougher player mentally and physically,than Mix and offers the possibility of playing at CB. I like Mix but he may be a luxury the US cannot afford.

      • have begun to follow Philly this year just to watch Mo play. He’s been doing it for them too, impactful. we’ve got some nice options to choose from here, the competition should be fierce for the final midfield spot

      • Mixx is the Wondowloski of Midfielders. Plays above his natural talent against lower level teams. When talented defenders show up, he struggles. Edu has the pedigree to compete at the highest levels. I’ll take the better, more experienced, more versatile player every time.

    • Mixx feels like a bit of a luxury player who can only play 1 spot. He did okay when moved in central mid during the gold cup but attacking mid seems to be his solo position.

      • So you’d prefer we don’t even bring one attacking central midfielder? None of those other guys qualifies, including dempsey and bradley.

    • Roger that. Mix needs to grow some hair on his chest, do some work in the weight room, and just mature.

      He might make the plane to Brazil, but I worry about his boyishness.
      Mo Edu is far more seasoned, strong and ready to rumble.

      • +1000 I think Rick Derringer said it best…

        When it comes crashing down and it hurts inside
        You gotta take a stand it don’t help to hide
        If you hurt my friends, then you hurt my pride
        I gotta be a man
        I can’t let it slide

        I am a real American
        Fight for the rights of every man
        I am a real American
        Fight for what’s right
        Fight for your life

        Clear enough, Ravishing Rick Diskerud?

    • I would put Corona ahead of Mixx myself. Mixx has showed well in friendlies, but he hasn’t been playing enough lately and Corona has shown well during this MX season.

      • Also, Corona plays in a better league and played in the Copa Libertadores, which is a pretty high level of play.

      • the only problem is that Corona sucks… like really sucks. In the Gold Cup, against weak competition… benched. He was that awful.

  19. There is a guy installing cable in my basement right now who looks like Sacha Victorine. Anybody know what to do in this situation?

  20. Getting very excited about Bradley and Deuce getting together for one more round. I pray Sacha is out. Like the guy, but he just doen’t impact games at the international level.

    • yeah, and he continues to sit on the bench for his club. he went from a 90 minute player to “did not play” real quick.

    • I feel like Kljestache is one of those players who brings a lot to a team…if he’s in the right lineup. Playing with the USMNT, he always seemed like a Camaro in a Rally Race.

  21. The number 10 isn’t a midfielder. It’s a free range attacking playmaker that sits above the midfielders and behind the striker.

      • not really:

        “In English football, the term overlaps somewhat with attacking midfielder, but the two types of midfielders are not necessarily the same. Several playmakers operate in a more central midfield role, alternating between attacking and playing in the midfield.

        In Italian football, there are usually two main types of playmakers: the trequartista (playmaker in the central attacking midfield position) and the regista (deep-lying playmaker).

        The trequartista, usually wearing the jersey number 10, will sit in a free role between midfield and the forwards, either in the centre of the pitch or on the wings.”

        in short, it could be described both ways.

      • In Germany the number 10 is traditionally a playmaking midfielder. Forwards in Germany traditionally are 9 and 11, which explains why Klose wears #11.

        The number has a different role for different countries.

        Germany has a long tradition of playmaking midfielders wearing die Zehn. Netzer, Overath, Magath, Effenberg. None of them was ever seen as a forward.

        Apparently at the youth level Podolski also followed this tradition.

      • exactly, which is why i said, “in short, it could be described both ways.” probably should say, “many ways.”

        ask an someone from England, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, and Italy and you’ll get five different answers. but in the end, it’s certainly an attacking player.

      • bryan, don’t be an unprincipled contrarian, Wikipedia’s text is not in dispute but Jack’s use of “isn’t” is clearly wrong, so no need for the “not really” from you.

        In any case, as long as Dempsey is healthy we should all be happy, whether he wears 8, 23, 2, 10 or whatever.

      • i’m not disagreeing just to disagree. relax. he said:

        “It’s a free range attacking playmaker that sits above the midfielders and behind the striker.”

        you said:

        “Wikipedia disagrees with you, Jack.”

        I said:

        “not really”

        which is true. his definition is included as one example of describing a #10. so how am i being an “unprincipled contrarian?” sure, he’s also wrong to say it “isn’t” ever a midfielder, because it certainly is at times. but you didn’t specify to which you were replying.

        i don’t even like Jack Del, he’s an MLS hating tr011. but wiki didn’t completely disagree with his definition and you said it did. so i responded saying, “not really” and then went into detail, ending the post stating you could describe it either way.

    • For me, it’s a midfield position, held by the best playmakers centrally. The presence of a #10 usually means a #9 is playing ahead as a lone striker, unless it’s a diamond 4-4-2. Either way, if he’s not a striker, he’s a midfield player.

      • and lets not forget the trend of #10s pushing out wide now. Rosales, Morales, and Ferreira are good examples.

        i thought MLS had a good video series on this exact topic:




    • Nope. That is incorrect. I believe the Armchair Analyst had an awesome breakdown of this in his commentary on the history of formations.

    • This and the following arguments are totally superfluous. Who cares what it’s called, the issue is who gets called into the training came and who makes it to Brazil.


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