Top Stories

Who should the USMNT start vs. Portugal?

USMNT Starting eleven

Photo by


MANAUS, Portugal — You would think that filling out a lineup would be fairly easy for Jurgen Klinsmann after his U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Ghana in its World Cup group opener, but the absence of Jozy Altidore and some other lingering injury concerns, could lead Klinsmann to make some tough decisions about his first-choice ll.

The big question heading into Sunday’s showdown with Portugal is just how will Klinsmann replace Altidore? Will he go with Chris Wondolowski, or Aron Johannsson, or will he pass on both and choose to deploy Clint Dempsey as a lone forward? I broke down the possibilities in this recent feature.

There are also questions in midfield, with Alejandro Bedoya and Graham Zusi both options to start for the same right wing position, unless Klinsmann chooses to start them both.

I discussed the various options Klinsmann has in my latest update from Sao Paulo for the Sony Ambassador project, which includes Wondolowski’s take on replacing Altidore.

So who will Klinsmann turn to? Here is the projected starting lineup we could see taking the field against Portugal on Sunday.








Some thoughts:

The only difference in this lineup from the Ghana lineup is Wondolowski replacing Altidore. Obviously Klinsmann could start Graham Zusi for Bedoya, or even John Brooks for Besler, depending on whether either Bedoya or Besler are still dealing with injury issues. Of course, Aron Johannsson could get the nod over Wondolowski, but we’ll give the Earthquakes striker the nod in this projection.

Now, Klinsmann could have a wild card and go with a midfield heavy lineup to try and control the game, which would mean not starting either Wondolowski or Johannson. This one seems a bit of a long shot, but one to consider:






With no true target striker option to turn to, Klinsmann can go with this lineup, with Dempsey operating as a non-traditional target forward. Bedoya and Zusi would be able to help the fullbacks deal with Portugal’s wingers and Jones and Bradley would partner with Beckerman to neutralize the Moutinho-Meireles tandem at the heart of Portugal’s midfield.

What do you think of our first lineup? Which of these would you like to see? Who are you hoping to see Klinsmann call on to start against Portugal?

Share your thoughts below.







  1. Considering that Portugal most likely will be protecting their inexperienced cb’s with midfielder that will float in front of them. I think having a single forward would be a mistake. So I say two forwards is a must. Also I would put Chandler as Rb & FJ at right mid. That way we have two fast experienced rb’s covering CR7. Plus we have our best dribbler going after their weak left back.
    Bedoya on the left helping out on Nani.
    Becks will have to be dropped & we will have to taske JJ to hover over our cb’s.

  2. Has anyone considered that Jones may be tilted to the right instead of the left in this game…
    I mean considering JKs history of throwing us at least one curveball per game…

  3. we will possess the ball a bit, but must be productive on the counter. for the counter to succeed you need speed on the wings where most of the pace will be and finishers up top. so I suggest




    D Beasley—-Cameron—Bessler—-Johnson

    Chandler and FJ on the right allows us to counter atleast and hopefully get some service into Wondo, Demps and MB90

  4. —————Dempsey—————



    Flexible formation, triangles JK prefers, and speed up/down the wings. I don’t think JK will play Bedoya on lw, hasn’t played there for club or country and he clearly favors Bedoya over Zusi.

    • This might work nicely. Nani is not the biggest player so Green might be able to physically match up with him on defense. We’ve seen him have plenty of speed up the wing and there should be plenty of space for him to take advantage of

  5. ——————-Dempsey———————-

  6. I would consider starting dempsey alone up front and putting in chandler to play midfield on whichever flank ronaldo is on. rest of the lineup is the same. If we get physical with ronnie and shut him out, portugal is in trouble. That crowded midfield for us can counter and hopefully hold the ball a bit, too

  7. I feel like we need some more width for this game. Nani and Ronaldo obviously need to be defended well, and behind them we should have acres of space seeing as neither one likes to track back. I think we need to move back to the 5 man midfield, at least for the first half. I like Brad Davis and Graham Zusi but I’m just not convinced that they have the pace and athleticism to get up and down the wings, and especially to get back and defend Nani and Ronaldo. Yedlin and Chandler are both exceptionally fast, have shown the ability to get up and down the wing, and are decent defenders when they track back. So this is what i would go with


    Then if needed later in the game Bedoya can come off for Wondo/Johannsson/Green and switch back to a 4-4-2. I worry about playing Zusi on the right wing because Zusi and Beckerman vs Ronaldo scares me because of their lack of pace. Having Chandler or Yedlin on the right to track back and help out would be huge, especially if FJ gets caught up the field. And the tandem of FJ with Yedlin/Chandler on the right wing would be menacing going forward because Ronaldo doesn’t like to defend and Contraou is out. Just my 2 cents.

  8. Sucks Diskerud doesn’t appear to be a real contender for a starting spot. I like him in a “midfield heavy” lineup with Dempsey, Bradley, Jones, Beckerman, and either Zusi or Bedoya.

    By the way, has anyone gotten the emails about the free fantasy games that Stuart Holden and Taylor Twellman are hosting on Draft Street? The contest is Pick’em style, involving just the teams playing tomorrow, with 8 tiers of players (ex: Tier 1: Clint Dempsey, Ronaldo, OR Eden Hazard). You just have to pick one player from each tier before the games kick off tomorrow.. pretty cool and an easy shot at some cash prizes.

    Here’s the link if anyone wants to check it out:

  9. Does no one else think we might start the way we finished against Ghana?

    Klinsmann is rarely afraid to ride the hot hand (or head, as the case may be for Brooks) and Bessler struggled a little. Bessler gives a great CB sub option if Brooks struggles. If there is a sub from this, I think it will be Wondo in for Johannsson, who look tired.

  10. Can’t believe I haven’t seen anyone talking about this lineup:


    The attack mostly comes down the US right flank here. Diskerud on the left as a 10 can make the finesse passes that can get the ball to Johansson and Dempsey on the ground. No one else on the USA roster is better suited to make Johansson successful than MIX

  11. ————-Dempsey————–

    Playing a 4-3-2-1.
    With Johnson moving forward we are going to need Beckerman to pickup Ronaldo if the Portuguese counter attack starts.

  12. Can’t we just use some of these new Nike clones I’ve been seeing advertised in this world cup? I would use a Zlatan clone as our target striker.

  13. The only change I might make to this is to replace Beckerman with Green who would play on left wing and put Jones back in Beckerman’s slot

  14. ——–Dempsey————Wondolowski——–






    • This is a good lineup. I confess to being Bedoya’s biggest fan this side of his mother, but I think Zusi’s superior ball-striking > Bedoya’s superior work rate in this case.

      Wondo over Bacon, for sure.

      I’m not a big fan of Chandler, so a Beasley, with Jones in support, would be my choice there.

  15. ————-Dempsey————–

    • I think this game is the reason Davis and Yedlin are in the 23, so both get the start. Besler and Bedoya sit to allow those little nagging injuries to heal.

      If the game goes well we can take off Dempsey, Bradley, and Jones to give them some rest. If the game goes poorly, we can take off one or two midfielders and put in Johannsson, Green, or Wondolowski (on standby to replace Clint if he pulls up with an injury).

      • US would have to be up 3+ goals for Jones or Bradley to come off. I don’t see it happening.

        Get win here, then rest Thursday.

    • If we are going to sit in as deep again we might actually need that speed on the break. Seems a little crazy but I wouldn’t be so shocked. I mean we must have brought him for some reason.

      • He’s for Germany…or the next round. If we get out of this group I’m salivating at our opponents.

  16. ——— Dempsey —— Agudelo ———
    —————— Donovan ——————-
    — Davis —————————- Zusi —
    ——————- Bradley ——————–
    — DEF —– DEF —— DEF —– DEF —


    —— Dempsey ——– Johannson —-
    —————- Donovan ——————
    — Bedoya ————————- Zusi —
    —————- Bradley ——————–
    —– DEF — DEF — DEF — DEF —–

  17. Just in case don’t we want Germany to beat Ghana by at least a couple goals? I think that would increas our changes of getting out of the group right?

  18. Has Mikkel consistently showed well when he’s started for the NT? His best performances for the NT have come as a substitute, from my memory. I think we are at our best when we have Mix and/or Aron subbed on after half.

  19. I don’t know why Ives belives JK will stick with a diamond, with minimal width, when Portugal’s strength is on the wings? Makes no sense.

  20. ——————Dempsey———————-

    Can also switch Deuce with Mixx an slot in AJ or Wondo up top

    Pros: Mixx can create goals, Dempsey Bradley and Mixx can rotate freely, closes down any space between back two lines by adding a third ‘defensive’ midfielder

    Cons: Narrow, Johnson will have space but weary of CR7, Jones limited(?), natural tendency to sit in??

  21. To me it seems a much stronger option to go with a lone striker and five midfielders when we have Ronaldo facing us and playing essentially for a draw unless Ghana surprises today.
    Chandler-Besler-Cameron-F Johnson

    Seems like the best combination of lots of defensive ability and good possibilities on set pieces with service from Alejandro and Graham. GO USA!!!!!!!!

  22. If the U.S doesn’t mind having a 90 plus percent chance to lose the game and hope for luck then, by all means, play the above posted line-ups. Play the same formation, you know, with a target forward.

    But if the U.S wants to try to win, like Mexico and Costa Rica are doing for example, then we need to go to something like a false 9

    • Fast Eddie, you would like Green as the false 9 against Portugal, correct (at least that’s what I remember from your previous posts)? That’s what you would consider “trying to win”?

    • A false 9 would look like this:


  23. ——————Wondolowski———————-

    They’ll switch between a 4-2-3-1 (start), 4-4-2 (defense), 4-3-2-1/3-4-4 (attack)

    • I think if he starts, Wondo will find a way to get at least a couple of good to.great scoring chances. He always seems to be able to do that. Has to finish one, though, no missing sitters on this stage.

      • Agreed, Wondo is good for at least a couple of clean looks. Aron has score his goals for the NT when he is subbed on in the second half.

    • I think Wondo is a better option up top. His motor will go all game. Bring AJ in when portugal are wash out in the end of the game. Dempsey playing up top often looks frustrated. I think he is much better in a with drawn attacking forward or in the midfield behind the forward. That being said, I don’t like leaving Beckerman on the bench in this set up. I think the trio of him, jones and bradley is a solid midfield and should be used again to clog up portugal’s possession in the MF.

  24. Bold prediction: Tied game. Late second half. The Mix master enters the proceedings. 85th minute, initiates a clever give and go with Dempsey in the box. Diskerud slots it in past a sliding Portuguese keeper. 2-1, go go USA.

  25. i like the 2nd one better….

    main subs; johannson; diskerud either green or chandler depending on the situation.

  26. ——————-Dempsey———————-

      • except the FJ and Cameron part. Cameron is a really solid CB. He just happened to play RB for club. i think CB is really his best position

      • This. Or even put Chandler on the right wing and keep the same back 4, since they finally seem to be getting some consistency together. But I think we need a right winger with pace and athleticism like Chandler or even Yedlin. Zusi is classy on the ball but he doesn’t have the pace to get back on Ronaldo

    • I like the lineup… I think the first two words of the article should say Manaus, Brazil as opposed to ‘Manaus, Portugal’..,

    • my prediction:




      Beasley—-Besler———Cameron——-Fabian J


      which will functionally look more like:




      Beasley—-Besler———Cameron——-Fabian J


      • in the second arrangement, Bradley should be positioned more centrally, but other than that I think that will be more or less how we will often look during the game.

    • My only quibble with this lineup is the Cameron/Johnson element. I’d rather see Cameron on the bench (especially with his propensity for defensive errors), Johnson at RB and Zusi in RM. I think that Zusi’s demonstrated ability with set pieces, not just in the Ghana game but all through qualifying, makes him a critical element in the U.S. attack.

    • Johnson at fullback but this.

      Ives is drunk with this stupid diamond putting Jones as a RM. Sorry but he sits with Beckerman as a CDM

    • Interesting line-up. I see what you are trying to do……midfield heavy lineup like Ives…but I would still be afraid of Cameron vs Ronaldo. More comfortable with Fabian vs Ronaldo due to Johnson’s speed.


Leave a Comment