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Who should the USMNT start vs. the Netherlands?

USMNT Lineup vs Mexico (Getty)


Jurgen Klinsmann will have some tough decisions to make.

If the U.S. Men’s National Team coach had his full squad available, he wouldn’t have nearly as many positions to figure out and new faces to consider. But with almost a starting lineup’s worth of key players missing from the current U.S. camp in Europe, Klinsmann will have to decide which players will be ready for a baptism by fire against the Netherlands and Germany.

The first of those tough tests comes on Friday in Amsterdam, and the Dutch will be fielding a strong lineup sure to make things difficult for whatever patchwork squad Klinsmann settles on.

So what formation and lineup will we see against a Dutch? Here is a look at the setup we could see Klinsmann deploy against the Netherlands:

Projected USMNT vs Netherlands

Some thoughts:

With Jozy Altidore sidelined, Klinsmann turns to Aron Johannsson as his target forward, and while Johannsson isn’t a pure target striker, he does have experience in the role, having played it extensively for AZ Alkmaar.

The absence of Alejandro Bedoya frees up a wing spot which Klinsmann could fill with Gyasi Zardes or possible DeAndre Yedlin, who has played in midfield before, most notably at the World Cup. I happen to think we’re more likely to see Yedlin start on the wing than at fullback.

Deploying Bradley as an attacking midfielder, with Kyle Beckerman and Danny Williams behind him, may not yield chances in bunches, but that trio should be able to hold its own against a Dutch side that won’t have as imposing a central midfield as we’ve grown accustomed to them having.

The centerback position is an important one for these upcoming friendlies and this match will offer John Brooks a great chance to showcase his quality against top forwards. The Dutch have called in Robin van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, so the U.S. central defenders will have their hands full. Michael Orozco gets the nod over Ventura Alvarado here, but the margin is slim. Klinsmann could definitely give Alvarado the start in Amsterdam before turning to the more experienced Orozco when the U.S. faces Germany next week.

The fullbacks won’t have it easy against the Dutch either, not with newly-signed Manchester United winger Memphis Depay called in. Capable of playing on either wing, Depay will be a terror, which could tempt Klinsmann to start Fabian Johnson at right back and Tim Chandler at left back. I don’t see that happening because of Klinsmann’s desire to give Brek Shea reps at left back, and because he needs Johnson in midfield even though he thinks he’s better suited as a right back.

So what lineup would I trot out against the Dutch? Here is the lineup I would deploy:

Recommended USMNT vs. Netherlands

Some thoughts on this group:

Germany is the tougher challenge and I can see Klinsmann choosing to start Orozco and Beckerman against Germany, which would give Morales and Alvarado a chance against the Dutch. Juan Agudelo steps in, and playing wide wouldn’t be a stretch for Agudelo, who has played a similar role for the New England Revolution. I know Zardes has seen minutes there for the U.S. in recent months, but Agudelo has been in better form lately and has earned a look.

What do you think of our projected lineup? Do you prefer that lineup or the recommended lineup with Agudelo in it? What formation would you deploy against the Dutch?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I love all the Brek hate still to this day…. scores in 2 of last 3 us appearances and he sucks… performs well for OCFC at LB and LM and he sucks…. needs to care about his career and get minutes people say, he does and come back to MLS and he sucks… Makes no sense….

    Even in his sub-par performances, the possibilites he brings and the talent he could produce is still evident, yet he sucks….?? I guess the majority of USMNT followers are watching different games on the pitch then Jurgen and Myself are… Thank God… Becase we need Brek for the Gold CUp and will hugely need him for WC 2018….. get on board now people and wuit with the pointless hate, he’s not going anywhere (barring injury)!!!!!!!!

    And to say LM is is worst position which i saw mentioned in like 10 of these comments is ourageous…. LB isnt even his worst position and has been playing that for only a few months now…. IS is unbelievable on the LM/LW areas with his pace, skill, touch, and delivery. Although the delivery is not always overly accurate, he still constantly creates chances and more time than not is accurate and the finishing of his teammates is actually what is lacking…. Hell the lad has even played RM/RW and a ST appearance while on loan in the Championship, and played CB at FC Dallas…. We need more players like him….. i.e Fabian Johnsons, Yedlins, etc, that can play multiple positions…..

    THe Hate amazes me….

    • I agree about Shea. 2-3 years ago if his one weapon failed him, he was lost. He has learned other options, but I think he needs to polish them a bit more. Defensively he has gained some concentration and seems to choose his forward runs to be more risk averse when playing in the back. I think his first touch could still use some work, but whose wouldn’t?

  2. Many of the players on this roster do not adjust to the different styles that are played in the various leagues (the exception is Aron Johannsson). I would hope they can win. But I cannot see that these two friendlies are a good prearation orthe Gold Cup.

  3. Chandler at RB offers absolutely nothing. Lazy player with zero pace. Yedlin much better option. Kid did really well at RB in Tottenham’s recent friendlies.

  4. ok lets try this again:

    —————————Diskerud ——————————
    ——- Johnson _______________ Bradley ——
    ————————– Williams —————————-
    —— Shea____ Brooks ——— Alvarado ——– Yedlin
    ————————— Guzan ——————————

  5. How about:

    Agudelo——— Johannsson—
    —————————Diskerud ——————————
    ——- Johnson —– Bradley ——
    ————————– Williams —————————-
    —— Shea Brooks ——— Alvarado ——– Yedlin
    ————————— Guzan ——————————

  6. Lol… we’re gonna get WORKED. SMH. Wish we had a coach that would call in his best players and not his favorites. Too much to ask in the world of our USMNT.

  7. —————– Aron ——————
    Fabian ——- Bradley —— Agudelo
    ———– Mix —– Morales ———-
    Shea —- Orozco —- JAB —- Yedlin
    —————- Guzan —————–

  8. This is funny but yesterday i decided to watch a univision soccer show for the first time and they were talking about the Mexican team playing in their friendlies and player selections. they were whining the whole time about why this “b” team it makes no sense and why Ochoa sits out during the friendlies and yet be the number one keeper? also why has the coach called in all this new players and has played 2 different line ups in the last two games? i couldn’t stop thinking how much has klinsman’s tactics has the Mexican coach liked. i mean Mexican coaches I’ve seen in the past rarely use a b team at all because of the pressure from the fans and the media. and here is the Mexican coach doing this and these TV host freaking out, and i’m thinking how much dividends it has paid to our team USA, the pool is deep, amazing talent is being found that fit almost any tactics. people just need to give coaches time and patience to see out their visions. sure we lose a lot of friendlies but in games that have counted the team has delivered and thats without proper time to fully accomplish his vision. i cant wait until these friendlies this weekend i think we are going to surprise.

    • Just Saying,

      Please do not compliment US soccer. You need to whine and demean it. It is the techique that makes you appear to be the expert, smarter and more qualified than the uneducated.

      If you throw in jokes about marginal national team players, that is a HUGE bonus to your soccer intelligence quota. Search for Freddie Adu on this site if you still don’t understand.

    • This is a good spot to put in what I was planning on posting. I don’t care if the US goes with either formation given in this article. Having followed US soccer for a long time, I am just happy that we can be missing 6 or 7 WC starters (Altidore, Dempsey, Cameron, Bedoya, Gonzalez, Zusi, Howard) and yet field such a competitive team.people can complain as much as they want, but we have a lot more good players than ever.

  9. First – Shea. JK will most likely start him in both occasions. This is the make-or-break session for Shea back there. He’s been holding his own against B squad CONCACAF folks. If he does well against more skilled competition, expect his role cemented for Gold Cup and if he does well there, then that’s his job to lose heading into WC18. If Shea doesn’t do well, then you’ll likely see Johnson back there bombing his way forward. With most likely someone with a high work rate in front of him who will be able to defend (i.e. Yedlin or Bedoya).

    Second, Chandler will likely be there – if he continues to have his attitude in the right place going forward at RB. Yedlin, internationally, is the time of Winger you want in the midfielder: High energy, can send in accurate crosses, can defend when the guy behind him comes up.

    Third, as I’ve said in other posts: Zardes is the RW of the future. Book it.

    If everything stays status qou, we’ll probably see this for Gold Cup:

    GK: Guzan/ Rimando
    D: Chandler/ Johnson (RB), Brooks/ Omar (CB1), Brooks/ Alvarado (CB2), Shea/ Yedlin (LB)
    CMD: Beckerman/ Williams/ Kitchen
    CAM: Bradley/ Mix
    RW: Zardes/ Johnson/ Yedlin
    LW: Bedoya/ Yedlin
    F: Jozy, Aguedelo, AJ, Morris, Dempsey

    • “He’s been holding his own against B squad CONCACAF folks. If he does well against more skilled competition, … ”

      BTW- so far in the past 6 months he’s scored vs Chile and Switzerland. 2 strong teams and not in the CONCACAF…

    • They are not moving Yedlin to left, unless he has changed drastically since playing for the Sounders.

      Which brings up the reason Shea is at LB. The US needs one and he is trying to make it there. Maybe Beasley? Just get a promise to play another 4 years from him.

  10. I’ll go with SBI’s projected lineup. Agudelo is pretty much a must start for me. Also Beckerman and Danny Williams starting together is cringe.

    • I thought Danny Williams was showing substantial talent before he tore his ACL. Since then he’s been one of Reading’s best players and definitely earned his way back to the team. Guy is probably our starting holding mid for the foreseeable future.

      The weak point, IMHO, is Aron Johanssen as a target striker…and I still wish JK would just relent and put Michael Bradley either alongside Williams or on one side of the diamond and find a true #10. Bradley just does not have the wiggle and subtlety to be a #10. I’d also much prefer to see Juan Agudelo up top because he’s so technical and his first touch is so good…and when you lump the ball up top, when the ball goes to Agudelo, it sticks, and he’s got the skill to keep it and connect…whereup he then turns poacher. I think Agudelo has the strength and skill to be one of the best target guys in the world, personally.

      • I agree with you on Williams. He has been really good for Reading and his appearance for the U.S. a couple months ago was his best in a U.S. shirt (sorry, totally blanking on the opponent. Swiss maybe?). I definitely think he will claim a starting spot.

        I disagree with you on Bradley. I understand the desire to have a “true” #10, but until one emerges who can actually handle keeping possession and distributing against the speed and talent of top teams like Bradley has demonstrated, then he has to remain up top. The difference in our offensive pressure when he plays up top vs someone else is night and day. He might not make all the right passes or be as aggressive as we’d like a #10 to be, but he is the only one currently capable of playing that position with speed of thought and skill to control the ball and make plays.

      • Actually to clarify I like Williams and think he should be the starting #6 with Jones out. However, having both him and Beckerman in the lineup is to defensive to me. Williams has more offensive ability than Beckerman but I’d rather see someone like Morales get a shot there in front of Williams.

      • So between the three who would you like to see start?

        For me it’s Williams next to Morales

      • I’m sticking with Beckerman and Williams. They both are calm on the ball and can work their ways out of tough situations. Morales still seems too raw for me. Against these teams we will need steadying forces in front of the D and Williams and Beckerman provide that. It may not be a sexy pairing, but it is the most effective one we can field with this roster.

      • Williams and Morales for me. We already know what Beckerman brings to the table. Give the younger guys a shot.

        Also in the next year Morales is going to be a frequent call up now that his club has been promoted. I expect him to get plenty of chances to break into the 1st team.

  11. I don’t like the idea of putting AJ on an island by himself. In my opinion, none — not one — of the strikers in our pool play like a true 9. All have some hold-up ability and all play better with a second striker running off of them. Not to mention, MB plays much better when he has two strikers as targets. And we don’t really have any true wingers in the pool right now, either, except for maybe Yedlin and Shea (who both will spend as much or more time at outside back with their clubs). FJ and Bedoya, likely our best “wingers” right now both play better when they tuck inside as shuttlers. So I think starting tomorrow versus NED — and going forward — we should stick with a 4-4-2 diamond (normal starters in paren):

    —— Agudelo (Jozy) ——— Johannsson (Deuce)—
    ————————— Bradley ——————————
    ——- Morales (Jones) —– Diskerud (Bedoya) ——
    ————————– Williams —————————-
    Johnson —— Brooks ——— Alvarado ——– Yedlin
    ————————— Guzan ——————————

    Imagine if Zelalem goes on loan next year and then breaks in with Arsenal for two full seasons after that. That would mean that 3 years from now at WC18, he could step into the top of the diamond and Bradley can move back to a more true No. 6, backed up by young DMs like Trapp and Kitchen. Please, please, let this happen.

    Okay, now I’ve gone off on a huge tangent…

    • He’s 18, so this is about when English clubs start to loan out players. Millwall & Gillingham are both in the League 1 next year and I could see him breaking through fairly easily with either team

    • I would like to see an example of the US using the 4-5-1 against a good opponent and not feeling like the striker was on a island, surrounder by sharks.

      The projected wingers and Bradley are NOT going to solve that. Love em all, but dont believe it happens.

      Go with the 4-4-2 and if you want one forwards to play a little further back, cool.

  12. Hate Yedlin at midfield. He is not a midfielder he does not have the skill to maintain possession enough to play midfield. He has enough skill to deliver good crosses as an overlapping defender and the speed to be a nightmare to opposing defenders while the defender is initially occupied by the midfielder. Yedlin also has the speed to still be able to recovery defensively. I think he can be a world class RB don’t use him as a below average midfielder.

    • to me he’s like a Shea, useful as a fullback but also useful as a winger in a 433. playing either in the midfield at their worst position seems silly.

      • to me, they are both more useful coming off of the bench right now. Regardless of their position.

        They both seem to do better coming into a game as a spark in the 2nd half.

      • Kev, so Shea scoring in roughly the 5′ against Chile supports him coming of the bench?

    • Problem with Yedlin is that he gets distracted. The one time I saw him play for Tottenham he was out of position and the opposing team immediately took advantage and scored. Not a pretty sight.

  13. I’m still not sure what Zardes brings to the table at this point. I can see him starting but we can put in better options (Ives’ aguedelo suggestion is interesting).

    • Zardes scored a lot of goals last season(16 in 32 games) and 3 this year compared to Juan’s 4 this year and 3 in 14 games for Utrecht last season.

      Actual results would seem to favor Zardes over Agudelo (unless you think past performance is absolutely no indicator of future performance).

      Personally I’ve seen each of them play only once this year and was not overly impressed by what I saw from either so I would go with the one who scored the most last year.

      • But what about at the international level? What have you seen from Zardes there indicates he’s better then Agudelo, or Wood for that matter?

      • Dennis,

        “Personally I’ve seen each of them play only once this year and was not overly impressed by what I saw from either so I would go with the one who scored the most last year.”

        Why don’t you talk to both of them and see where they are at and then wait until you see how each of them looks in the practices before the game?

        That would seem to be a reasonable approach.

      • The things you suggest are what the coach gets to do, the rest of us are left with less complete information.

      • Zardes scores only when he has a Donovan or a Robbie Keane suplplying him with passes. Has he scored a goal for the Galaxy this year? Zardes is dependent on someone who knows his strengths.

      • err Birgit… Recommend that you at least watch Zardes play before such creative commentary. lol

  14. If the season is over in the European leagues why is US soccer scheduling this match on a Friday. How is the average American supposed to take time out of their schedules to watch these matches. Sneaking the occasional glance while at work is not the same as setting aside 2 hours and getting emotionally invested in this team.
    Ah the days of yore.

    • Considering that the game is in Amsterdam why are you assuming that they had much say in the matter besides accepting or not accepting the invitation. I would imagine that they didn’t want to play the same day as the CL finals

    • right? Saturday would be a mistake with the UCL final but Sunday midday is wide open! play it a couple hours before the WC games kick off. the actual FIFA break doesn’t start until Monday too.

  15. I feel like Zardes has peaked already on some fronts and if this is the case, I think he’s really mediocre for his qualities vs his drawbacks..

    His first touch is sorta bad and he isn’t the most technical player either. I just think that Juan Agudelo and Bobby Wood are better options for their ages.

    Agudelo has shown he can produce at this level. Bobby Wood, expect for his finishing, has shown that he can keep up with the pace of the international level and finished strongly in the second half of the season for Aue.

    • FYI, Zardes improved about 100% from his first year with the Galaxy to his second year. This is his third year. This year the Galaxy has had to adjust to no Donovan and Keane has been out injured most of the season. and they traded Sarvas, so their midfield has been pretty weak. Zardes paired up with Jamieson for a couple of games, then Jamieson went to the U-20 WC. Zardes last played with Moganto, a rookie, Alan Gordon, then Edson Buddle. He has played up top at times, on the wing at times. The Galaxy has been very unsettled, so I wouldn’t base any evaluation of Zardes on his performance so far with the Galaxy this year, even though he scored a goal in his last game.

      • So your excuse for Zardes is that he keeps getting paired up with a rotating cast of characters?

        Isn’t that a good description of the USMNT and international teams in general ?

      • Simply put, Gary is trying to say that the Galaxy midfield/forwards have not been good so far this year, so Zardes has received less quality service. Gary is right on this one. When Keane is back and Gerrard gets there, the Galaxy will be back to full strength, and you will see a jump in production from Zardes. least that’s what I am counting on.

      • And when David Beckham was there Buddle was the leading scorer in MLS.

        It could be that Zardes is young enough to learn from Keane and Gerrard and become a better player, but it could also turn out that like with Donovan and Beckham’s Galaxy, there are two players who are clearly head and shoulders above anyone else and anyone who can slightly play at their speed will look great, like Mike Magee and Edson Buddle

      • Old, That may be possible. We need more time to see and then decide. But I definitely think Zardes is better than what Buddle was back then, I don’t know by how much though. It’s been a while since those years you are describing.

      • MLS vets Dan Gargan and Baggio Husidic are contributors for them, as are Old Europeans. Have things changed in MLS all that much really?

      • In his early 20’s Buddle scored 42 goals for the Crew in 106 games.

        A few seasons after that he scored 42 goals for LA in 87 games roughly 1 goal every two games..

        Buddle could score for someone other than LA .

        Zardes has 23 goals in 73 games for LA so far, about 1 goal every three games so he has some work to do to catch up to Buddle’s scoring rate..

      • A good thing is the word about Zardes from the last few call ups is he has a fantastic attitude and is a sponge to learn… Doing all the right things to build a career and not get caught up in his sophomore year… (lessons from EJ)

  16. I think central midfield will be a problem. That second lineup in particular looks like a gaping hole in the middle, and not just because of the way Ives arranged it. Maybe I’m not giving enough credit to Morales (who seems to disappear at times) or Williams, who I haven’t seen play in a long time. I worry that Bradley, if deployed where indicated above, will drop too deep if he sees the midfield struggling, then the lone striker gets isolated and we end up playing the game on our end the entire time. I would rather see Bradley in more of the #8 role and play another striker (Agudelo?) behind the holdup striker.

    • “I worry that Bradley, if deployed where indicated above, will drop too deep if he sees the midfield struggling, then the lone striker gets isolated and we end up playing the game on our end the entire time.”


  17. I’m excited to see the Brooks – Alvarado pairing. Think they could impress.

    Agudelo and Aron could be a good pairing if there’s a 442

    • I agree on both of your points, i was thinking the same thing. I want to see Alvarado in there and get tested for 90 mins. I have been impressed by him.

      We will see what side of Brooks shows up. If he is in form and head is right, he can be arguably our best CB. If not, it will be ugly. One way to find out!
      Nothing against Orozco. I think he is solid and deserves time in one of these games.

      That forward pairing would be good. Could do some damage in the Gold Cup.
      But working within Ives’ projected lineup(s), which are more likely, I would put Agudelo up top to hold up play and AJ on either “wings”. Agudelo’s hold up play has been impressive and he is much better suited to fill Jozy’s void.
      That will be at the expense of Zardes. Rightly so since Zardes has been cold lately and AJ looked like he was getting back to Ice Man mode at the end of the season.

      • Seeing Alvardo start with Brooks could be disastrous for us. Having a backline composed of nothing but relative youngsters and/or players adjusting to the team still or to their positions, wouldn’t be the smart thing to do. At least Orozco brings in some sense of familiarity and a veteran presence.

      • curious, were you not one of the people saying JK should start a consistent CB pair and let them get reps to gain chemistry?

      • I don’t think so.

        I do know that I’m always pushing for Orozco after his last brilliant game. He complements either Gonzalez or Brooks so well.

      • yea i like Orozco as well but I’d also like to settle on a young CB pair to build on for the next 8 years; JAB and VA both being 22 could be that pair. imagine the same CBs playing almost every game until they’re 30 for us, would be nice.

      • I see your logic and I’d be fine with this if Klinnsman wanted to go this route.

        I can see them growing together to become to the next Boca, Gooch tandem. I just don’t know if its necessary to start the process against arguably Europe’s two best teams, yet again it could be an experience that helps mold their partnership for the better.

      • exactly. i guess I’ve always assumed JK’s purpose was to be that catalyst that does those bold things to jumpstart the US.

      • Could be! Very true. But sink or swim?

        If tomorrow was a meaningful game, I would 100% agree with you.

  18. seems reasonable. both lineups look strong and unpredictable. i’m excited to see what they can do and doubt that either game will be embarrasing.

    • I think we should get spanked in at least one of the games. Probably the first.

      I like the second proposed lineup, expect I would place Orozco next to Brooks instead of Alvardo.


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