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With Altidore out, who will Klinsmann turn to at forward?



Jozy Altidore’s latest hamstring injury comes at a terrible time for the U.S. Men’s National Team, what with a pair of high-profile friendlies on the horizon. As bad as the timing is, it could actually wind up working out well for U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

As tough as it will be to once again be without his full-strength starting lineup, Klinsmann will now have a chance to give some other forwards serious looks against top competition when the U.S. plays Netherlands and Germany next month.

In my latest feature, I laid out why Altidore’s injury presents a golden opportunity for Aron Johannsson to shine. If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s because we saw a similar one at last year’s World Cup. Only then Johannsson was also injured and unable to show what he could really do in Brazil.

Give my story a read, and then cast your vote and share your thoughts on who you would like to see Klinsmann give the starting forward nod to for the upcoming matches against Netherlands and Germany after the jump:

[polldaddy poll=8881594]

Who did you vote for? Think Klinsmann should trot out a 4-4-2 diamond against the Dutch and Germans, or see a 4-2-3-1 working with one of the forwards listed above? Interested in seeing the Clint Dempsey as lone striker experiment again, or did you see enough of it in Brazil not to want it again?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. My favorite player is Wondolowski. Other than that Johannsson would be a great choice. I would like to see Charlie Davis instead of Agudelo. I would rank Jordan Morris above Agudelo, as well. Zardes hasn’t scored enough for my liking. He clearly needs someone to supply him the ball. I am not sure there is anyone who would do that.

  2. Gyasi Zardes and Aron Johannsson. It’s about time we play 2 up top. The next step in our Futbol evolution should be to maintain possession, by and in, the penalty box. Put speed and skill in the midfield behind them and start counting the goals.

    • SoccerBob

      The single striker evolved as a response to a variety of things.

      A lack of more than one striker who was worth anything is one good reason. Finding two who can play together well enough to justify it is another.

      Playing with two strikers often means you are outnumbered in midfield particularly in the middle. Typically that means you lose the possession battle

      You could just have the one or both of the front two to drop back when needed.
      In that case at least one of those front two needs to be versatile.

      And if the player is capable of that, what difference does it make if you list him as a striker or as a midfielder?

      Germany has a number of players like Goetze, Schurrle, and Muller who are comfortable and capable transitioning between striker and midfielder during a game when necessary.

      The question for the USMNT is who do they have more of:

      1. Good strikers who can transition between midfield and attack during a game
      2. Good midfielders who can transition between midfield and attack during the game.

  3. Huge MLS/NY/NJ Metrostars/NYRedBulls fan here and I’m hoping Giles Barnes gets a call up soon! He’s always fighting to make a mark on the pitch. Love his speed, strength and style of play. I’d prefer for Jozy and Giles to start up top together one day, but Giles make the perfect replacement too.

      • Barnes is english, yes. but so is Dom Dwyer but since Dwyer’s been here so long etc he can play for us as soon as 2017

      • DLOA,

        Has Barnes started the process for citizenship yet?

        Does he want to?

        Dwyer married Sydney Leroux so his citizenship process is a little bit sped up than it otherwise might be.

        If Barnes is single then marrying another USWNT’er would expedite his citizenship process, if that is what he wants to do.

      • Excuse my ignorance. Giles Barnes will never represent the USMNT, he has been capped by Jamaica. On that note, I look forward to seeing him play against the USMNT alongside Kemar Lawerence

  4. Having watched both Juan and Charlie Davies all season, I would pick Charlie in the middle over Juan. Charlie works very hard on defense and has an instinct for scoring. Unless he has been black balled for life by US Soccer, he deserves a shot at the NATs again.

    I like Juan too but not as a target forward

  5. I wish Terrence Boyd was healthy. I would love to see Boyd and Aron Johannsson be our starting two forwards up top on a regular basis.

    • +1.
      When he plays for the Nats, it seems like Altidore is too busy whining and throwing up his hands. It gets annoying. Let’s give some other forwards a chance.

      • Dempsey is worse than Jozy at “whining and throwing up his hands”.

        Do you want to drop him too?


      • Totally disagree. I’ve talked to and read other soccer fans commenting that Altidore is a whiner as well. Dempsey was not even a part of the discussion.

      • Johnny,

        If you look for it you’ll see it. You seem to be focusing only on Jozy.

        Like most of you I’ve seen just about every game I can for some time now and much as I love Clint I don’t think Jozy can teach him anything about petulant whiny behavior on field, though that is probably mostly for the benefit of the refs.

    • barely… literally. 4 points above the line. the win vs everton and draw vs lifeless arsenal today was what kept them in the epl. both those games they could have easily lost. they have less wins than 3 of the 4 relegation battling teams. they, i believe, tied a record for draws in a season (17).

      bottom line, you can like/hate a player all you want but don’t act like they’ve been miles better since Jozy’s subtraction from the team (or since Defoe’s arrival for that matter)

      • Right, by backing into safety through a goalless draw. You are aware that Sunderland barely used Jozy this season, and still finished second to last in goals and wins. Must have been his fault.

        Meanwhile, since leaving Sunderland, “Antigol” has scored “gols” regularly for Toronto and the US.

        But dont let facts get in the way of your Altidore bias.

      • I am guessing you meant that for El Comadante and not the comment you actually replied to

    • agreed. He is not in the picture for 2018, or even qualifying. I think there are guys that can be just as productive and gain experience for the 2018 cycle.

    • Morris is in good form? Are you speaking of Stanford spring games? Because he’s only played twice for any US team in the past few months. Yes, he was good, but two competitive matches in a few months is not something to judge “form” off of.

  6. Johannsson and Agudelo are the clear choices for most potential and ready to take it to the next level with the national team but I really like what I have seen from Zardes.

    I would be thrilled if Davies gets a second chance too. wouldn’t be surprised to see a young guy, like Morris, Thompson, Rubin or Jamieson, jump into the mix and deliver in the group stage games.

    just glad we are expanding our pool, watching Dempsey carry the attack (and Wondo trying) in the last few games of the WC was not fun..

    • Zardes is terrible, do people watch his galaxys games? He has aweful first touch and shouldn’t be called up again.

      • Still think Zardes is a starter in 2018. He just needs to continue to adjust to speeds of play that are faster than MLS. My guess is he will. Remember, just a couple years ago he was a college player.

        Speaking of college players, Morris is promising but probably not ready for these friendlies or Gold Cup. The only attacker on the list I would say is below him is Wondo, and there’s a few not on the list who should still be above Morris.

        I’d take AJ, Agudelo and Zardes. In two friendlies all three can get good minutes.

  7. Wait because Jozy scored more for AZ he’s better than Johannsson, and because many of you seem to not like Jozy you pick Agudelo. But Agudelo only scored a goal every 4.6 games in Holland while Johannsson scores every 2 games. And Aron has scored 3 goals in 10 games for the Nats while Agudelo 3 in 19 caps. If you are going to try to use logic to justify your pick at least have your facts correct this isn’t fox news.

    • Johnnyrazor
      What are you talking about? We “seem to not like Jozy” so we pick Agudelo??? And what are we waiting for?
      Please go back to NPR, troll.

    • jraz,

      I’d pick Agudelo over Altidore right now because Juan can run and Jozy can’t .

      Pulled hamstrings have that effect on players.

      It also makes it hard for Jozy to kick a ball properly.

  8. Agudelo and Johansonn have the most experience and technical skills.
    Both have the poacher’s instinct, the “kavorka,” i.e. the nose for goal that is unteachable.
    Agudelo is maturing and settling into his role at NE, he has very good technical skills and a beautiful first touch. His early success went to his head and he was a spoiled a party animal with a poor training attitude. Someone straightened him out. It shows.
    Johansonn seems to have gotten over his injury bug and is starting to fire on all cylinders again.
    They are the obvious first choices.

  9. Altidore off the roster is not a big impact on the USMNT. When it comes to him and Bradley they are struggling in TFC to make a commanding impact against MLS defenders. Agudelo or Johannsson with Dempsey up top will be a good combination against any opponent. The issue here should be who has the skills to play ATTACKING MIDFIELDER for the Red, White and Blue, to give effective serve to the duo up top…….that’s the piece that is still missing

    • Who exactly IS commanding MLS defenders? Dempsey? Because he leads the league with only two more goals than Jozy in 40 more minutes…

      • Wondo has more goals than Altidore, so lets not go by goals. Dempsey (leader in goals, second in assists) is on another level when compared to Altidore and is a player worthy of a $6,000,000 price tag. Feilhaber (leader in assists), Charlie Davis, Teal Bunbury, Lee Nyugen, Kitchen are making a huge impact on their respective teams (NE lost because Davis and Bunbury were not in the starting line-up and made an immediate impact leading to a goal right when they came on in the second half)… yes some are making a commanding impact and their teams are nowhere without them (and some make way less than 2 mil a year).

      • You don’t pick a player for the USMNT because he is making a big impact on his team.

        You pick him because you think he will make a big impact on the USMNT.

      • Please, skip the money card! The price tag is not what makes a player great. And as far as that goes I would like to see Wondolowski or Jordan Morris any day in favor of Jozy Altidore when he has hamstring issues. Get him well and he’ll be good, but until then, I’ll take Charlie Davis.

  10. I think Will Bruin should be on the list. Has just as many goals as Charlie. And no matter how much I respect Jordan Morris’ abilities, a pro player scoring goals in the country’s top league should be called up before him

      • would rather you explain than trust you. I’m sure I dont see him as much as you do but every time I watched him in college or with the Dynamo he scores goals and is a pain for the opposing teams defenders.

      • Bruin is slow, inconsistent, poor finisher and doesn’t show up to big games. In other words, it is very easy for a team to take him out of the game. He doesn’t take defenders on, rarely shoots from range… Doesn’t play well with his back to the goal (holding posesión). And inconsistent! He Will be replaced in the summer.

    • Bruin and Morris are two very different types of forwards so there is that.

      “And no matter how much I respect Jordan Morris’ abilities, a pro player scoring goals in the country’s top league should be called up before him”

      Why? Is that a rule somewhere?

      The only thing that matters in this instance is would Morris, who has been much more involved with the current senior national team that Will Bruin ever has, contribute more to the team that Bruin would.

      I don’t care if Morris is working as a full time bouncer at a strip joint and only plays ball with Hat Trick Rick on weekends with Wells Fargo FC. If Morris shows up at a Nats camp and outplays Bruin, assuming Bruin even gets an invite, then he should play ahead of him.

      Right now I’d say Morris is ahead of Bruin on the USMNT depth chart.

      • “I don’t care if Morris is working as a full time bouncer at a strip joint and only plays ball with Hat Trick Rick on weekends with Wells Fargo FC. If Morris shows up at a Nats camp and outplays Bruin, assuming Bruin even gets an invite, then he should play ahead of him.”

        otherwise known as the Freddy Adu Principle.

      • Nate Dollars,

        C’mon, while he might be a valued customer no one is going to hire Freddy as a bouncer.

      • “Why? Is that a rule somewhere?

        The only thing that matters in this instance is would Morris, who has been much more involved with the current senior national team that Will Bruin ever has, contribute more to the team that Bruin would.

        I don’t care if Morris is working as a full time bouncer at a strip joint and only plays ball with Hat Trick Rick on weekends with Wells Fargo FC. If Morris shows up at a Nats camp and outplays Bruin, assuming Bruin even gets an invite, then he should play ahead of him.

        Right now I’d say Morris is ahead of Bruin on the USMNT depth chart.”

        Why? because it makes sense. Klinsmann and US coaches talk about current form and call players up based upon that (this article is about that is it not?) all the time. How do you assess Morris’ current form at any given time when he plays in college where a majority of the players he’s up against will never play professional soccer? Bruin is scoring goals against senior internationals. I don’t know what Nate Dollars meant bringing up Freddy Adu but he is the perfect example as to why your thinking is flawed. Freddy always played well for the senior team; are you saying he should be called in based upon that? Freddy likely still has college eligibility maybe he should play college then to get a call up.

        There is also the issue of fairness. Some players heed the advice and direction of the powers that be of US Soccer (Klinsmann, Ramos, etc) and some don’t. Morris hasn’t followed US Soccer’s directions, opting to play high school soccer rather than US development academy soccer for three years, opting to stay in college rather than sign a homegrown contract, opting to stay in college rather than be drafted where he would likely get a generation adidas contract that would pay for him to finish college while going pro. Nor has Morris opted to try his luck in europa as you know Klinsmann would like. He’s free to do whatever he wants be he shouldn’t be rewarded for it, and I bet he didn’t expect to be. You have players sacrificing a lot – high school soccer, State Cup titles, a college education – in order to heed the advice of guys like Klinsmann. By rewarding Morris with caps you are applying different rules to different players. US Soccer and Klinsmann won’t ever get all the top players to follow their advice, play development academy soccer, or push themselves to the next level if they make exceptions for guys like Morris. Players should have to prove their dedication and their consistency at the highest level, period

      • Fairness?

        Your have got to be kidding. Talk to Parkhurst, Goodson, and Evans about fairness. It is very low in the order of priorities when it comes to team selection There is nothing fair about this

        If JK thought Bruin was a good fit for the USMNT he would have called him in by now. And that is not to say he won’t in the future but as best as I can tell, never mind Morris, there seem to be a number of other guys in line before Bruin.

      • My point on fairness is not related to just simple team selection. Obviously life isn’t fair and selection will never be fair as it relates to the selection of one team by one coach. My point is that US Soccer and Klinsmann have done a number of things that have drastically changed things for youth players in the US. by creating the US Soccer Development academy league as the lone top youth league, prohibiting high school soccer, prohibiting play in any other sanctioned competitions, and creating generation adidas contracts to encourage promising players to by pass college. By giving senior team caps to an amateur player who has basically said “screw all your rules” they are undermining their own work. More of the top players will say, I’m not giving all that up. Look at Jordan Morris. The result is the US Dev Academy league and its clubs won’t be able to attract all the best players. It is already happening and examples like Morris will make it worse.

      • High level sport is all about exceptionalism.

        Many great athletes were exceptional and unorthodox in some way. This does not invalidate whatever development systems were in place where they grew up. It just means that every player is different..

        While Jordan’s accomplishments to date are exceptional, his story hasn’t really even begun yet so why don’t you wait a minute before writing his epitaph?

        Landon was exceptional. I think of him as a savant. I can’t think of anyone who came through the same system he did ,at the same time, who achieved anywhere near what he did.

        Morris is not in the same category as Donovan but his success to date in no way invalidates the development systems you referred to.

      • Oh, sure. Let’s be fair and reward mediocrity, and then get our tails handed to us by teams who aren’t “fair.”
        Fairness….please. That is ruining America. “Everyone is equal.” “Here’s a trophy for participation.”
        Last time I checked no one won anything simply by showing up.
        Play the best players and let how many times someone shows up be damned.

    • I agree 100% that AJ should play with Agudelo since AJ is not a target forward, and to effectively use him, he needs to play with another forward.

      Right now Agudelo is that candidate since he has the individual skill and explosive quickness off that 1st step that other forwards don’t possess. Zardes is also a good choice to pair with AJ but I would start Agudelo since he’s more experienced.

      If you need someone to physically wear out the other team, then Gordon would be a useful choice to pair with AJ.

      Just say NO to Wondo.

    • so, no Dempsey? He’s in pretty good form this year. Though, I’m not sure who would partner best with him.
      Though, I actually like the Agudelo & Johannsson combo.

  11. I voted for Agudelo over AJ because I feel he has better one-on-one skills and hold up skills. AJ makes well timed runs and can score from distance from time to time, but once he gets next to a physical defender, he gets pushed off the ball relatively easy. Plus he’s completely disappeared in games recently (maybe due to fitness from his injuries).

    It really all depends on what JK roles out as a formation. I think Agudelo can be the lone striker with Dempsey behind him, but I think AJ needs a fellow striker up with him to make runs off of and to do any holding up.

    This poll is also being used to see how many trolls are on this site by seeing how many people vote for Wondo.

    • I am willing to be called a troll. I won’t do that because I am not a troll. I like Wondo. He has scored 100 goals and that is good enough for me. Zardes hasn’t scored recently. Charlie Davis has. For friendlies it’s good to try new players. But right now the friendlies are used to see who might be fit enough for the Gold Cup. That’s what counts.

  12. Didn’t Altidore pair with Davies to beat Spain? I like AJ but when he is paired with Altidore we have no pace.

    • Sadly, that was before the accident. What a huge loss that was — really had the speed & quickness to create. Would love to see him get a call up as a curtain call, but as a long term — not going to happen.

  13. We will see a Jordan Morris / Aron J combo.

    Agudelo will get a look he likely otherwise would not receive right now

  14. I haven’t seen much of Johannsson this year, but I would probably vote for Agudelo to fill Altidore’s slot. I like Johannsson and think he’s a possible starter by the time we get to 2018 (if not earlier), but I’d prefer to see him as a second striker in a 2-forward system (or maybe even on the right side of a 4-3-3), playing off someone whose a little more physical. I’m sure his injury affected him at the World Cup, but honestly, I think the more fundamental problem was that, while he’s very skillful and can score if he has/creates enough space, he couldn’t handle contact from Ghana’s more physical midfielders and defenders. Maybe that’s changed in the last few months, but given the style of play in the Eredivisie, I doubt it.

    Agudelo doesn’t quite fit the mold of a physical target scorer, but he is a little bit taller and bigger than Johannsson, and seems comfortable operating in front of goal. I’d probably plug him into Altidore’s slot, and use Johannsson as a second half substitute if either Agudelo or Dempsey starts to fade. Ultimately, as Dempsey ages, he’ll move to the bench or off the roster, which will in turn open up space for Johannsson to start either next to or underneath Altidore during the second half of this cycle. But I think plugging him into the starting line-up as an Altidore replacement before he’s ready to handle that level of physicality probably distorts our style of play a little too much and will lead to the same sort of problems we saw in Brazil.

    • *physical target striker. I know there’s no such thing as a “physical target scorer.” This site needs an edit button.

      • Petro4.. Zardes and Robbie K work similarly at the Gals…, as Gyasi has physicality,speed and can hold the ball, taking pressure off of RK, which is what enables most of RK’s (Gyasi also) scoring. Note how successful Zardes is when RK is also on the pitch? They work off of each other brilliantly and Galaxy is struggling without that pairing up top.. I think Aron J could work really well beside or above Zardes also. Those two can be a great tandem imho.

  15. I am not an Altidore hater. Let me repeat…I am NOT an Altidore hater.

    This said, I think we see Jozy less and less in the USMNT setup moving forward. Some think that he is our best forward and goal scoring threat, I wholeheartedly disagree with this opinion. Jozy is a physical presence, holds up the ball well, and can bring the midfield into the attack. He is not the forward of the future for the USMNT. His speed is average, touch inconsistent, and does not have the technical ability to outmaneuver opposing defenses at the highest level. I wish him well for the future, but think that we’ll see someone like Aron Johannson arise as the definitive starting forward in our lineup in the near future.

    • I’m not sure that I entirely agree with your assessment of Altidore (I think he’s faster, more agile, and better able to maneuver with the ball than you’re giving him credit for), but I think the more fundamental reason he stays in the USMNT set-up is that even if AJ is the “wave of the future” as far as style of play for our strikers goes, I think a technical player like him still needs a physical guy next to him to absorb attention and contact from defenses, thereby opening up space for him to operate.

      There are a couple of players other than Altidore who could potentially fill that role by 2018, with Agudelo being particularly promising because he’s actually pretty skilled with the ball in addition to being 6’1, 185 lbs. However, I’d still put my money on Altidore above the alternatives. He beats everyone on physical attributes, is a good passer for his size, and has a rocket of a right foot, which is what has gotten him so many goals at the international level. That’s precisely what you need in a forward who will create openings for more technical teammates to do their thing.

    • Joe,

      Altidore plays because he has 78 caps and 27 goals, a good goals per game average and because the offense is geared towards his style.

      None of the current contenders really play the same way he does.

    • Both JA and AJ played for the same team in Holland. AJ has not yet equaled JA’s goal scoring record. Nor has AJ played nearly as many international games. He still has to show he can perform at that higher level.

  16. I haven’t seen enough of Johannsson to vote for him. What I’ve seen in the minutes he’s played for the US haven’t been as impressive as what I’ve seen from Agudelo – which is why I would pick him.

    • AJ is a nice player, I believe the issue with him is that when he has played for the USMNT he hasn’t played in a natural position for him.
      He would pair nicely in a system with Altidore or a true #9 where AJ can attack from the wings, that isn’t the US system at the moment though.
      AJ and Dempsey as a front line wouldn’t work with AJ being forced to play in a position that doesn’t suit his skils and Dempsey having no one to play off of (like he does with Altidore). I understand that AJ is in the best form, but there has to be an element in the equation of where does he fit in the system.
      The natural choice to me is Agudelo. He can hold the ball up, but has the technical quality and movement to play off of Dempsey and Bradley. Davies theoretically can do the same with how he has adapted his game post-accident, but we have no idea how it will hold up on the international level (unless he’s called up for friendlies pre GC and shows well).
      Wondo is a nice MLS player, but always seems that the international game is a level to much for him. Plus for someone who is so prolific in MLS, he’s more known for his misses for the USMNT.
      I’d prefer to see Jordan Morris with youth squads and keep him off the hype train for the time being.
      Zardes hasn’t looked great w/o Keane in MLS. I like his strength and work rate for the US, but if we are talking a full squad, I’d much rather see players like Fabian Johnson and Brek Shea attacking from the wings, plus they do track back and support. Zardes for his potential hasn’t shown consistently for the USMNT like FJ and Shea.
      Just my two cents.

      • Good stuff.

        The short answer to the question above is simple. If we are going to play the same way/system we have been then it has to be Agudelo. None of the other options can play as a target striker. AJ will be lost/beatup/ineffective in that role.

        The other option is to change the formation/style, but if you do that you almost have to sit Dempsey. The Dempsey conundrum is that he is by far our most reliable and ruthless scorer, BUT he has to play as a second striker off a target forward because his defensive liabilities will kill the team if he plays midfield.

        So if we want Dempsey starting against the Dutch and Germans, which I think we do, then it has to be Agudelo playing the Altidore role.

  17. Uh-oh — Klinsmann, Altidore, and Wondolowski in the same discussion. If anyone mentions a certain retired Galaxy player, this site will spin out of control. Again.

  18. Aron Johannsson should be the obvious pick, unless you consider the fact that he shouldn’t even be considered as a replacement. He should be a starting striker for the national team. There are better players than Wondo, so he shouldn’t see any major playing time for the rest of his career. Davies has more confidence than I think he had before his accident which is awesome. I hope he continues to get back to his stellar skill. Agudelo is a good young guy, would like to see him score more and get back to europe. Zardes is promising and would love to see him go to europe. Jordan Morris I respect for continuing his education, shows a lot of maturity for an athlete who could easily sign a home grown deal with Seattle, but is choosing to set his future up for a life without soccer should that ever be the case.

    Please don’t make anything an argument, every post is opinionated and everyone is entitled to their opinions. These articles shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat to belittle others and misdirect anger and condescend people. If you have a strong opinion about a player, that’s what the poll is for.

      • It’s not just the speed. The best of Davies was about a lot more than just speed.

        Technically, Charlie is a better player than he was than during his star turn in BB’s teams. Better touch, smarter runs and movement, etc.

        But he doesn’t have that intimidating, overwhelming, very aggressive physical “presence”, that “Jermaine Jones beast mode”, that he used to have.

        He seems to have more of “it” back with the Revs than he did at DC United where he was really a pale shadow of himself but whether that is good enough for the USMNT I don’t know

    • If they are American and want to represent the US, I don’t care where they developed their game. We are a melting pot after all.

    • Great job, being a xenophobic jerk. Right, just like I am sure all of your ancestors, have been in the U.S.A for thousands and millions of years. And you have no ancestors that came from Europe or Africa, or any other foreign continent. SMH!

      • Haha, how did you get that from his comment? “SMH” is right. Don’t read into things that which is not there.

      • overreact a little? It was a cute joke. JK brings in a lot of players from those countries.

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