Top Stories

Who should the USMNT start vs. Chile?

USMNT XI Honduras 2014

Photo by Robert Mayer/USA Today Sports


Jurgen Klinsmann has a number of his top-choice players available, but whether he starts them all for the first match of the new year is something he is likely considering plenty.

The U.S. Men’s National Team is set to open a busy 2015 schedule on Wednesday, taking on Chile in a friendly that will see the Americans make a rare appearance in South America. Klinsmann trimmed his January camp roster to 23 players over the weekend and the head coach has several of his MLS-based marquee regulars available, but his stated goal of identifying younger and unproven talent this year could be a factor when he tries to settle on a lineup.

Klinsmann could be tempted to give test runs to up-and-comers like Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes to see if they sink or swim, but he might also want to rely on more of his experienced mainstays in a tough environment like Chile given that the Gold Cup is fast approaching.

Here is who SBI thinks will take the field against the Chileans on Wednesday:

football formations

Some thoughts:

With the U.S. having reportedly experimented with a three-man back line in the lead-up to this game, it would not be strange to see Klinsmann test out the new tactical wrinkle to gauge how effective it can be. If that’s the case, expect three center backs to see the field. Matt Besler is a virtual lock and the Jermaine-Jones-at-centerback experiment should continue, leaving one spot available. That could go to Shane O’Neill, Steve Birnbaum or Matt Hedges, but we think O’Neill is the youngster that gets the nod given that he has had prior exposure to Klinsmann’s setup.

With one less defender on the field, the midfield should have an added body. The center of the park is an area in which the U.S. has a wealth of options, so Michael Bradley and Mix Diskerud continuing the partnership they began in the fall seems plausible. Bradley would be deployed in front of Diskerud in this case, as Klinsmann has said and shown he prefers to see the Toronto FC star further up the field. Klinsmann then may be tempted to throw a youngster into the fray, and the blossoming Trapp seems like a perfect candidate after his strong 2014 season with the Columbus Crew.

The absence of fullbacks will, however, makes it likely that Klinsmann relies on speedy outside midfielders capable of transitioning back on defense in a sort of wingback role. The athletic and returning Brek Shea would be a natural fit on the left, and the late call-up of DeAndre Yedlin — who played on the right side during the World Cup — would indicate that he is also in store for a start.

It seems all but a guarantee that captain Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore man their usual spots up top, with Dempsey dropping a little deeper to create and Altidore staying high and awaiting service from the flanks.


Do you think this will be the lineup we see on Wednesday? Would you rather start someone else or use a different formation? Think Klinsmann should go with mostly mainstays or should he test out some of the more unproven players?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Can our U17 team just play instead? They are more exciting to watch, and I hate pretty much everything about these guys coming back to the MLS

  2. why so funny, im not saying start them, 3 of them already caps and im sure gedion.will get his as soon as he is eligible. Flores might be awhile away. The younger generation is by far more technically advanced and thats what we will need to compete with south American countries

  3. Not sold on Nguyen or Bradley anymore. Dont think either will be around much longer, to much young talent coming through like emerson, gedion, joe corona, junior flores and even rubio rubin plays attacking mid sometimes with his club. This summer we should let these kids get some time in the gold cup so they will be ready for copa, confed, and 2018

  4. I hope Zardes starts up top instead of Jozy. I hope Nguyen and Trapp start instead of Bradley. I don’t care to see Shea ever again. I wish there were more left-sided options on this roster.

  5. Seeing as this formation is going to lead to this game being an EXPERIMENT, I see a drinking game in my near future. I believe that the old Marine Corps motivational training tool of breaking bad habits by using negative reinforcement group therapy. Every time a mistake is made by one of the following guys, as shot is earned.
    Beer for Bradley — One shot of Bell’s Two Hearted IPA for every Bradley back-pass.
    Beer for Brek — One shot of Sam Adam’s Winter Lager for evry time Brek gets beat down the wing by his man.
    Bourbon for J.Jone & Mix — One shot of Blanton’s original single barrell for every foul committed by or to them. These fouls’s may not necessarily be “mistakes”, but I HAVE to make sure I find a way to drink the damn good bourbon.
    Bottom’s up, Cheers, Slante’, Prost, and drink-up dammit!

  6. if bradley plays deep, he’s still going to want to want to get foward to get looks on goal, which means he’ll be running all over hell’ half acre. a high mileage and tired bradley isn’t good for the nats. so i agree with klinsi on this one. better to involve him in the attack and lighten up his defensive load.

  7. the 5 in the back scares me due to the lack of a real lwb option on the team. Shea really? I think theres a better chance serna starts there. I do however want to see the 5-3-2 with our A squad. For this one id stick with the 4-2-3-1

  8. Coaches seem to want to push Bradley forward. Perhaps it is something the see in training. In games, he continually drops back to help defend and plays safe. Most of the time, for the USA, unfortunately, his help in defending is needed and in the WC, it was in no small part his showing deep for teammates to relieve pressure that the allowed the US some breathing room.

    Many of Bradley’s backward and square passes are the result of recently winning the ball, I wish he would have better ideas of how to start the attack quickly from freshly winning possession. He seems to prefer to hold the ball and start the attack in a more measured way that too often lets the opposing defense off the hook.

  9. given the news the team has been playing in a 3-5-2, and with Jones all but confirming at least one game will see this formation, i think this is about right. i’d like to see us do a 4-4-2 in the game we don’t use the 3-5-2 though.

    and like many others, i’d rather see Mix and Bradley deeper with Lee at the top of the midfield in that 3-5-2. i do think SBI’s projection is most likely though.

  10. Not a bad lineup, but I’d put Nguyen at CAM and drop Trapp to the bench to pull Bradley back to a No. 8. And the more I think about it, JK moving Jones to CB, if it pans out, will basically make Jones play in the more disciplined way everyone had been clamoring for him to play in the run-up to WC14: as a No. 6.

    But then he played out of his mind in Brazil as a left-sided No. 8 and we all forgot about how much his roaming frustrated us….

  11. well this should be interesting.. SBI’s lineup looks kinda off but id say its the most realistic; thats where we are these days.

    fwiw, Chile usually plays a 3 cb – 2 wing formation too.

    id go with:

    – Nguyen > Mix just needs time at the int’l level
    – Zardes more inform and plays better D than Shea, throw Trapp out there if you want not his natural position but i could see it working.
    – Kitchen and Hedges; time to incorporate two of the better uncapped pure defenders in the pool. Two of them would allow Besler and Jones more freedom to pass and create from the back while defending.

    • glad someone pointed that out. i feel a lot of CONCACAF teams play some version of a 352/532 and perhaps that is why JK is using it now; for variety and to tailor formation to opponents formations. conversely, european teams play a 442 or 433 so we usually match that when playing those teams. just a thought.

      • yup, Mexico and Costa Rica both implement that kind of system (although pretty overall different). I can’t think of any other SA teams that do.

        some European teams do too; Holland for one, wouldn’t be surprised if Italy makes that move with Conte. I read that England’s U21’s were.

        if you have the personnel, three solid cb’s and two attacking wings, it can be very effective both as a bunker formation (see Costa Rica) or a wild attack formation (see Holand, Juve, etc). i see our pool as rather conducive to this.

      • pretty sure colombia was 3-5-2 in the cup, and italy’s been that way for a while.

        the formation has definitely become the next big thing, which is why i’m kind of leery of klinsmann trying it, since i thought he and ussf were committing to the 4-3-3 (which was en vogue 4 years ago) from youth to senior level.

  12. 3-5-2? Interesting, I thought that only working in FIFA 2014… I’d go with






    • I like this except Shea. IDK why JK brought him into camp but he is not a starter at all. I really want JK to give Lee a major look and in the center. He is way better than Bradley at creating offense and Bradley is good at DM. Thats what we need. Mix… we’ve seen you plenty. Nothing new to learn there

  13. Am I missing something here…..
    The last time we saw any of these guys in a competitive game, Lee Nguyen was playing better than anyone on this roster, except for possibly Jermaine Jones.
    I’d be very very interested to see a 3-5-2, I think if we had our full A squad I’d still make the same statement as I think our current pool would support it well.
    In fact, Quozzel even predicted this last year….

    But if that’s the case, I’d be shocked if Nguyen wasn’t starting in front of Bradley and Mix… unless he picked up an injury I haven’t heard about

    As far as Brick Berk Shea on the left side…. Well…. I dunno what to say….

    • Sure however Shea’s probably had just as many positive moments in a US shirt as Bedoya has. Not that it’s saying much but it’s just what we have to work with at the moment.

      • @Jack, your not being serious are you??? Can’t be, Shea has never and probably will never be at the level of Bedoya, on AB’s worst day at that, so please stop it!

      • I can write the review of nearly every single performance from Bedoya. “A solid defensive effort but never really found his way to bring much into the attack”.

        I’m not praising Shea just pointing out we don’t have a ton of talent to work with. Bedoya’s fine but he never leaves a mark on a match. He was nearly invisible the entire World Cup.

      • Bedoya is a work horse 2 way player. Sometimes you need those guys to do things like let Fabian Johnson overlap. He doesnt need to be perfect for every set up.

        The “always play the best player” system is what gets teams like England into trouble.
        We need to play Bedoya for the same reason they should have played boring Michael Carrick instead of Gerrard or Lampard. 4 Premier league titles and a champs league win were not enough for Carrick. We dont need to be that just because bedoya is boring.

    • yeah, i’d really like to see nguyen take the attmid role for this game, just to see what he can do.

      so staying with the 3-5-2: considering fabian (who’s basically ambidextrous) wasn’t called up, who would you put on the left?

      • Nate… How good is your left foot… mine sux
        But I’d probably say you or me before I’d say Berk….

        Dude, I have no idea but I would like to see them try playing the 3-5-2 for a while. They get 6 subs so I’m sure by the time the game ends we’ll see a 1-2-1-3-2-1-1 with a sweeper stopper and 6 holding mids???

    • Fabian Johnson and John Brooks aside, this is the A squad.

      If the team is completely dependent on Brooks (who didn’t really start at the WC) and Johnson (who is a bench player at his club) in order to be competitive then we are in worse shape than I thought.

      JK has had almost four years to shape the team tactically and mentally. The rumored switch to a 3-5-2 reeks of desperation since the pool cannot support this formation.

  14. I’d like to see Nguyen in there instead of Mix, and then switch him and Bradley. The rest looks fine considering who is available.

  15. My biggest key to this game is the return of good Bradley. If he looks more like late 2014 bradley than early 2014 bradley, we are not going anywhere any time soon.

    • Well Bradley said he isn’t good enough to play an advanced midfield position in MLS, so if you don’t play there for club and you’ve admitted you can’t, then i think its safe to assume he’s not going to be a success on the international level. Good thing our coach understands this.

      • I think its because he was taking a lot of s**t from the media, and of course that plays a huge role on a persons mental state, but i think he really does feel like he shouldn’t be playing there.

        Hes never played there, besides with the Nats going back a year. He’s no spring chicken and probably can’t relearn his game at this stage of his career. Common sense ultimately tells me he can’t that leap foward when he feels he can’t play the position on the MLS level of competition.

      • “Hes never played there, besides with the Nats going back a year.”

        How long have you been watching Mikey?

        There are some you tube videos of him at Heerenveen. He scored sixteen Eredivisie goals and twenty in all competitions during the 2007–08 season. He was playing in the central midfield role of a 4-3-3. Now whether that was an designated as an attacking or a defensive midfield role I could not tell you.

        The point is Mikey is more than competent as an attacking midfielder.

        Obviously JK is trying to get that out of him and Mikey is resisting. We’ll see how that works out.

      • I remember watching them. He was their holding mid.

        Just because he scores goals by getting on the end of them doesn’t mean he played in an “advanced role”. He’s never played that position. There, nor at Monchegladbach, Aston Villa, Chievo, or Roma.

      • OMRW

        “He’s never played that position”

        Never? Maybe on paper.

        Mikey may have been listed as a holding midfielder but now you are getting into semantics. There are nuances to “holding midfielder “ such as linking midfielder, box to box midfleider, defensive midfielder etc., etc..

        Obviously Mikey sees himself as a DDeRossi, type but he’s not that good. yet

        And the closest thing the USMNT has to DDR is Jones

        Mikey’s strengths have always been his constant motion allowing him to be wherever he could be most useful, his tactical awareness and understanding, his passing, and his shooting At his best he had the old Reyna “timekeeper role “ i.e . the ball always went to him and thus he controlled the tempo of the game.

        If you look at the formation in this article, Mikey is behind the two attackers and in front of Mix and Trapp. I see that as a variation of his old Reyna role relieving him of some of his old defensive responsibilities. And I would argue that Jones at centerback pushing up is going to take some of the responsibilities Mikey would have had in his preferred former role.

        If this does in fact happen then the answer to the question of whether and for how long Mikey and Jones will stay in their “new “ roles, will depend on whether and for how long this new formation succeeds.

  16. This lineup screams possession, but a lack of execution in the opponents half.

    The people who complained about Jozy’s lack of service form the wings at Sunderland will have to bear the same these upcoming matches if Brek Shea is going to be solely responsible on the the left and Yeldin on the right.

    It gets worse when you consider the fact that Mixx, Bradley and Trapp all love to sit right above the backline. Bradley will ultimately be responsible for getting into the final third consistently in the attacking phases and his unwillingness to play that part scares me.

  17. I like this formation. It could work after a while, but will probably have its growing pains with two inexperienced wingbacks.

    It can also transition to a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield with Jones sitting deep, and Bradley,Mix, and Trapp potentially rotating duties so long as none try to be the star. Dempsey dropping deep and adding a number in MF could trigger the shift to 3 in the back.

  18. “The athletic and returning Brek Shea…”

    Yes, he is athletic and returning. It would be nice if he could also play soccer (at the USMNT level).

  19. What is the ever loving obsession with shea? They love him so much, they are going to change positions for him.

    There is going to be some hilarious video of him getting absolutely toasted on defense if he plays there

    • Agree. Though he will probably go with the central midfield above since he likes Bradley more advanced and has given Diskerud so many minutes in the past. And then I can maybe see Nguyen coming on for Clint or Mix as a sub.

      I am not confident Klinsmann will play Nguyen the way he needs in order for him to thrive. I also don’t really like the three CB defense in general…

  20. LOLZ at Rimando. He’s always on his tippy toes in these pictures. Never seen any try harder to look like he’s 5’9 instead of 5’7 than Rimando.

    • Also, ever notice how small guys that are insecure about their height always try to get themselves in the back row instead of appropriately settling in the front row… and making big boi’s like Jozy crouch in the front.

      • Surely you’re not suggesting Rimando is insecure about his height. Of course you’re not because that would be ridiculous to assume. Unless you know him personally and he’s opened up to you about it.

  21. gotta say, i haven’t seen trapp play much at all. any (unbiased, unlike me) observers out there who can compare him to perry kitchen?

    • I’m not a Columbus or DC fan, but I have seen them both on multiple occasions. Trapp looks to have more potential, and even though he is still a bit raw manages to be one of the better defensive mids in MLS. Kitchen is very consistent and deserves a strong look with the national team, but I think at the end of the day his ceiling isn’t quite as high as Trapp’s is.

    • I follow MLS very closely. I’m neutral though so no bias. Having watched more Trapp than Kitchen, I can say more about his game, obviously. But overall I think Trapp is more technical, has a better passing range and composure on the ball. I think he has a better soccer IQ than Kitchen, but to be fair to him he is a smart holding mid, one of the more intelligent destroyers in MLS. And that’s another key difference. I feel comfortable calling Kitchen a “destroyer,” but somehow that moniker doesn’t suit Trapp at all. He can get stuck in and isn’t necessarily averse to being physical, but at 5’8, 145 pounds (?) it’s definitely not his strong suit. I will be interested to see if Trapp can compete at the international level. He might be too small for a No. 6. In that way, he reminds of Gringo Torres, who was at his best playing a deep-lying defensive role for his club teams but was always miscast as a playmaker or winger with the Nats. Long story short, I think Kitchen has the physical qualities that Trapp lacks but without as much upside.

      • I am a big DCU fan, and your description of Kitchen is pretty solid, but not the whole picture. This past season saw his offensive numbers go up. With a solid defense behind him (not the 2013 DCU dumpsterfire), he can be more than a destroyer, and he showed that in 2014.
        And if the line-up above is accurate, I worry about a Mix-Trapp combo in front of a 3 man back line. Both are slight and could get muscled in important spaces. I’d like to see Mix at the top of the triangle with MikeB and Kitchen behind. Would provide more solid cover for a 3 man back line and let Mix attack more.

      • The brevity with which I discussed Kitchen’s qualities does not do him justice as a player. I just didn’t want to write a novel, so I kept it short. But he has the potential to be a very good No. 6, with box-to-box capabilities you’d like to see. His distribution is good and underrated. He’s a versatile and dynamic player. I have to wonder if maybe he is being used as a center back in this camp. He was listed as a defender in the official roster, and he could slot into that libero role in a three-man backline.

      • My thoughts on Kitchen are similar to my thoughts on Sean Johnson because I can’t stop thinking about the failed attempt to qualify for the Olympics. Granted that there was plenty of blame to go around, not just on the defense and goalkeeping. It’s hard to forget and forgive Johnson’s howler though.

        May all these players live in soccer purgatory until they somehow redeem themselves:

        GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United; Annandale, Va.), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire; Lilburn, Ga.)
        DEFENDERS (6): Perry Kitchen (D.C. United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes; Durham, N.C.), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo; Huber Heights, Ohio), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact; Lancaster, Pa.), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union; Boston, Mass.)
        MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union; Potomac, Md.), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Mix Diskerud (Gent; Oslo, Norway), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz; Richardson, Texas), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy; Naperville, Ill.)
        FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; Barnegat, N.J.), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund; Berlin, Germany), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City; Prior Lake, Minn.), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim: Silver Spring, Md.), Brek Shea (FC Dallas; Bryan, Texas), Tony Taylor (Estoril Praia, Jacksonville, Fla.)

      • what exactly did Gyau do to deserve your purgatory? get injured??…..


    • If Chile were bringing their “A” team I would agree, but their team will also be entirely domestic based players so we should be on a level playing field.

      • depends on which players they’re fielding: much like what bielsa did in the run-up to 2010, and what herrera did with mexico in the play-in game against new zealand, it looks like they’re bringing a lot of players from a couple of teams (including cdu catolica and u de chile–very good teams), where the team chemistry can often make up for the lack of starpower.

      • Dan, but the USA ¨domestic¨team has 5-6 players that participated on actuall WC games, were as CHILE will have, tops one player that played some spot minutes. Chile won´t have any players with the experiance that bradley, dempsey, jones, besler or even altidore has, except maybe rojas.

  22. I like that lineup. Although I would reverse Bradley and Diskerud. I think Bradley is better when he sits a little bit deeper and gives us a chance to see if Mix can be a playmaker.

    • I don’t think anyone on this board would disagree about that, but Klinsmann has it set in his mind that Bradley is the attacking mid on this team for some reason.

      • I think Bradley is better when he sits a little bit deeper
        I don’t think anyone on this board would disagree about that

        I’m someone who would disagree.

        To clarify, I understand the value of Bradley in the midfield and don’t discredit why people prefer him playing deep. I also acknowledge he’s “lost the plot” a few too many times while playing in an advance role in the build up to the World Cup and within the World Cup. However, as intelligent as he is, he’s far too conservative for my liking while playing deep. In fact, I recall someone calling him “Backpass Bradley” and, unfortunately, that’s all too common. Too close to the vest, too negative and it doesn’t always lead to “safe plays” as he routinely puts other midfielders or defenders in a precarious situation with pressure from a needless back pass.

        Can he play the defensive destroyer/distributor from deep well? No question he can. Is he capable when he’s challenged to play in an advanced role and in a situation where an “elite” pass to set-up Jozy, Clint is needed or finish a goal? No question he can. If…JK is set on having an attacking midfielder I simply have yet to see anyone else capable of consistently playing it well. Diskerud has shown well in limited/sub roles but has yet to flash consistently when starting.

        Let’s not forget, Altidore isn’t the only one who played extremely well and scored goals in Holland. Our boy Baby Bradley did, too. He’s capable.

      • “I simply have yet to see anyone else capable of consistently playing it well.”

        dempsey? granted, we probably wouldn’t be able to play 2 up top–but then, i’m not sure why we’re suddenly looking at a 3-5-2, when i thought ussf was all about the 4-3-3 now.

      • I don’t understand the change in formation either, to be honest. I’m not expecting anything positive from this showing.

      • It coulds be a matter of being tactically flexibility. We can control a game and the speed of play vs most Concacaf but not vs teams like Spain….

      • I think it’s just that the focus is always on doing well at the next World Cup. Since the next one’s still about 3 and a half years away, there’s time to experiment with ideas and personnel that you just can’t a couple years from now. There’s really nothing to lose here, so let’s just see what happens.

      • When Ryan Nelson was still coach of TFC, not only did he say he didn’t see “eye to eye” with Klinsmann over what they thought Michael’s best position was, but he said that Michael didn’t feel it was his best position.

        Anyone of his caliber who publicly state’s anything about where they “feel” they should be playing, usually means they don’t want to or feel they can’t fully confidently do the job.

        Alot of what happens this year at the club level will determine what will happen as far as his performances go with the Nats in the new year.

      • Mark,


        I guess that depends on who you think should manage the team, Mikey or JK.

        I don’t think you manage your team entirely based on what a player tells you he feels he feels most comfortable about.

        Of course you take Mikey’s views into account but there are other guys who can play that deep lying role as well or better than him and Mikey is more than capable of playing a little further up the field.

        Hopefully, Mikey will be happy to play wherever they need him and if he can’t do that, then he can always retire from the USMNT.

      • It’s more complicated than just Bradley high vs. Bradley deep. It also matters what the rest of the setup is. Bradley high with one forward (like at the World Cup) is a pretty bad idea, but Bradley high with both Dempsey and Altidore in front, and with attacking midfielders on the wings like Shea and Yedlin, is much more likely to be successful. And with Mix behind him, expect to see him and Mix trade places on occasion in the attack. Bradley’s going to naturally drop back sometimes, no matter how high he starts initially.

        When Bradley plays behind two strikers, he tallies an assist about 50% of the time. He delivered one of the best assists of the World Cup in the very brief time he was deployed like this (to Green against Belgium). I would bet on Bradley being pretty effective in SBI’s lineup above.

        (the three man backline, on the other hand… yikes)

      • i agree with parts of others’ comments but i’d say i agree most with yours. (especially the 3CBs, tho i can see it potentially working, perhaaaaaaps…..)

  23. I would say the U.S. has ‘a myriad of choices’ in midfield, but considering they are often overrun there against quality competition, I think ’embarrassment of riches’ is a bit of a stretch.

    • don’t let hours of video evidence to the contrary and several failed stops abroad fool you, deep down, underneath it all, Brek is a somewhat, maybe workable wing option when everyone else is hurt, hung over or is in the petty German coach’s doghouse

    • They are all mediocre players at best. Kinsman hasn’t developed jack since taking over the whole program. He’s misused the talent that Bruce and Bradley developed, marginalized many decent players, including our best ever, and has made the USMNT a complete joke of a team. We were feared in CONCACAF, I am afraid we lost that edge as demonstrated in the junior competitions.


Leave a Comment