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USMNT likely to make changes while trying to lock up quarterfinals berth vs. Haiti


photo by Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports


FOXBORO, Mass. — Style points may mean little to nothing in a tournament like the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but the U.S. Men’s National Team is craving drastic improvements as it attempts to secure early passage into the knockout rounds on Friday.

That progress will likely have to come from a reserve-filled lineup, though.

The U.S. continues its Gold Cup title defense on Friday night, hosting Haiti in a Group A match at Gillette Stadium. Winning is top priority for the Americans given that three more points will assure them a spot in the quarterfinals, but they also want to be more convincing than they were in Tuesday’s narrow, if not generous, 2-1 win over Honduras.

Still, the showdown with the Haitians will mark the third of what the U.S. is expecting to be seven games in just over three weeks. With games coming at such a rapid rate, a rotation of players seems probable vs. Haiti due to the room for error that the tournament’s forgiving group stage allows, the need to keep legs fresh, and the ongoing battle for starting spots.

“A tournament you only win with an entire group and No. 23 is as important as No. 1,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Anything can happen, but also there’s a tricky situation, especially now in the Gold Cup, where you play every three days in the group games, which is a very short turnaround for every team.

“We think through that and we also still see a lot of competition going on in our own team, quite a lot of 50-50 situations on the table. You can discuss, as every soccer fan can discuss, that you want to see that guy or that guy play, and we have those discussions as well as coaches. We want to see them perform in training. We want to see them put a stamp on their own personal situation, especially when they get to play.”

On paper, Haiti seems like a pushover and the type of opponent that you can afford to rest some players against. History, however, might paint a different picture.

Haiti is one of two CONCACAF nations – Mexico being the other – that holds a winning record over the Americans. The Haitians are 6-5-5 all-time against the U.S., and were on the brink of coming out victorious again in the two teams’ most recent meeting in the 2009 Gold Cup before Stuart Holden scored a thunderous 92nd-minute goal to force a 2-2 draw.

Even so, Haiti has not beaten the U.S. since 1973, and the disparity in talent between the two countries is as clear to see as Gyasi Zardes’ blonde mohawk.

The Americans are not taking anything for granted, however. They know their recent performance in the victory vs. Honduras was subpar, and that combined with Haiti’s showing in the surprise 1-1 draw with Panama earlier this week could be a recipe for disaster if the U.S. does not show up fully focused.

“Haiti is always unpredictable,” said U.S. forward Jozy Altidore, who is of Haitian descent. “I’ve been watching them since I was young, with the games I went to until now. You never know what you’re going to get. A lot of that’s a good thing because sometimes they have players that can make something out of nothing that you’ve never seen before, so that’s something that you have to be aware of.”

What is also a bit unpredictable right now is what Klinsmann will do with his team. While changes seem to be in the offing, just how many he plans on making to his lineup is unknown. Seasoned veterans like Clint Dempsey and Kyle Beckerman stand a good chance of being rested, but the importance of the game could mean they earn the nod again while rotational players are swapped out.

One area where tweaks do not appear as likely is at centerback. Klinsmann has often paired budding prospects Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks together in the heart of the defense in recent months, and not even their shakiness against the Honduras seems enough to warrant a shakeup at the position.

“They’re young, and the only way to grow is playing,” said Klinsmann. “The way you get more experience is being on the field to get more experience.”

There will be attention paid to how the U.S. back line performs, but more of the spotlight will be placed on the attack. The Americans were far from at their best in terms of chance creation and keeping possession vs. Honduras, and they want to show that they are making strides in those departments as the Gold Cup gains momentum.

“We want to be on the ball the most,” said midfielder Mix Diskerud. “It’s not always going to be easy, but in a lot of these games, that’s what we’re hoping for. (Against Haiti), we want to create chances and have possession. We want to be that team.”

The Haitians’ physicality and athleticism could pose problems in that regard, but the more talented and experienced U.S. should still find a way, any way, to deliver the goods.

Yes, playing prettier and more effective soccer would be a welcome development for Klinsmann and his players. But, ultimately, it is finding a way to pick up another win and moving onto the next round that only matters.

“There’s absolutely no way we’re going to underestimate Haiti, not for one second,” said Klinsmann. “We’re going to take the same approach that we took Honduras and how Honduras played us. They were very, very aggressive, sometimes on the edge and sometimes over the edge. We are prepared for all 90 minutes.”


  1. Seventeen seven six

    I’m like “hey, what’s up, hello”
    you should know my name, call me Jozy Altidore
    I just wanna score and win the Copa Oro
    Show you how to kick a ball, but not with your toe
    Got 81 caps and scored 27 goal
    JK be like HAHAHAHAHAHA Lando
    USMNT, be the best on the globe
    MB is my boy, but he’s got no hair though
    started my career with the New York Metro
    scoring goals in Holland like my name was ArJo
    Couldn’t score in England, now I’m in Toronto
    Got a big contract, with a lot of zero
    In love with the money, call me Chucky Blaze yo

  2. ———————-Zardes—————-Dempsey————————-


    Fabian J.———–Brooks————Gonzalez————-Evans—-

    Maybe since Altidore can’t score but is strong and has good hold-up play, we can play him on the wing and play Zardes up top (striker to winger conversion, like Teal Bunbury for NE).

    • make this lineup into a 433 with bradley disk and bedoya in midfield and i wouldn’t say that’s a bad lineup.

      • the interesting thing with Klinsmann is that he is building the US into a “formationless” squad… you (DLO&A and Bizzy) use the same players but in some moments it could be a 4-3-3 and in some moments its a 4-4-2… I think he is really pushing that for the men’s team, and he thinks that is the thing that will take us to the next level… so I think you will see more “formational adjustments” just done automatically by the players going forward. regardless of the lineup he trots out for our consumption.

    • With two people up front thee should be one player in the center. With four midfielders the two in the middle constantly trip over each other or drift to where they shouldn’t be. Bradley needs to be in the middle and another player should be behind him rather than on his side. That preferred player would be Beckerman.

  3. “Haiti is one of two CONCACAF nations – Mexico being the other – that holds a winning record over the Americans. The Haitians are 6-5-5 all-time against the U.S.”

    WTF, That sentence blew my mind.

      • Never underestimate Haiti. They are the best of the rest in CONCACAF, imo. They had a lot of creative players in the 2013 Gold Cup….they really impressed me, then. Drawing Panama on Tuesday should be yet another sign this team should not be overlooked.

    • We are 13-6-13 (W-D-L) with Costa Rica, but they have the edge on goals scored 38-34. I only hope we can play them and leave them behind this Gold Cup. As for Mexico, we are 18-14-32 with 75-132 negative goals record, This is a loooooong way to catch up and I don’t think I’ll see us overturn this deficit in my lifetime, but I hope I am wrong.

      • “I don’t think I’ll see us overturn this deficit in my lifetime,”

        So what?

        You can whine about that record and wallow in the deficit. It is irrelevant.

        What matters is whether the US outscores Mexico and Costa Rica whenever they play them going forward from this day. Anything else is a waste of time.

  4. Zardes ——– Jozy ————- AJ
    ————— Bradley ————–
    ———- Mix —- Morales ———
    Fabian — JAB — Alvarado — Evans
    ————— Guzan —————-

      • jozy’s the best passer of the 3, he should be in the middle. also, don’t think he’d even last 45 out on the wing.

      • he was a LW for NYRB early in his career and did well there. his added mass may have decreased his winger ability but i think he would do well there. jmho 🙂 also, i would say passing would be considered a strength in a winger.

      • Jozy would not be good at any kind of wing position. He is too slow. Three men up front is another problem. The attack should have only two players. It’s bad enough when Altidore doesn’t budge from his forward position because he lacks endurance. The people playing on either wing (midfield included) need to be fast. If Jozy does only hold-up work, he is not likely to score. As a striker he should score at least once in a while. That’s why he is there.

      • He scores once every 3 games. That is a very good strike rate. Why is that so hard for people to understand?

  5. The starters tonight will be the 11 that JK thinks can win the game. If the US wins, they will advance with at least 2nd place in the group no matter what happens vs Panama or in the Honduras v Panama game.

    Players who need rest will get it during the Panama game.

    Will any starters from Tuesday not start tonight, maybe Yedlin or Beckerman, if only to get a longer look at Bedoya and Mix without hurting the chances of a win. The other players will get their chance next week.

  6. Win tonight and the US has 6 points
    This puts them in an almost unassailable position, especially if Panama loses or draws with Honduras. Then the Panama game would be almost meaningless and a good time to bring in the subs.

    Lose or draw and it gets sketchy.
    I think JK has to go for the win tonight .

  7. ————Jozy ————AJ ————–
    Zardes —————————-Bedoya
    FJ ——-Brooks —— Alvarado –Yedlin
    ——————– Guzan ——————-

    Continuity with just 3 new starters from the Honduras game, but still speedy at the outside mid and fullback spots to keep up with Haiti. I don’t know Bedoya’s status, but if he can’t go, push Mix up to the right shuttler spot and bring Beckerman or Morales into the no. 6 role.

    • And for those ready to jump on me because I left Deuce out: when NEED his scoring later in the tournament and he’s going to need a rest at some point. The Haiti match is probably the best time for this.

      • Please no Mix. He is simply not good enough. Hopefully this GC will expose him (although MLS is already doing that) for the mediocre player he is.

      • I dunno @Atx_Colin. I know he can be inconsistent, but I like Mix’s game. And if the likes of Mexico and Germany have not exposed him as mediocre, I doubt Haiti or Panama will.

      • I would say he was mediocre in both those games. I realize he shows moments of good vision and creativity but they are few and far between.

      • The guy that was the best player on the pitch against Czech Republic’s A team? The guy that scored a brilliant goal against Germany? The guy that performs at a consistently high level for the USMNT? That guy isn’t good enough?

      • Ha, he is definition on inconsistent. And yes, prepare for an underwhelming performance tonight from Mix against Haiti.

    • or you could switch bradley and mix so they’re in their best positions, but obviously that won’t happen. :

      • Bradley is better at Mix’s job than Mix. As soon as US fans start realizing this they will stop complaining about Bradley playing up top. It is where he makes the US better. Don’t blame Klinssman, blame Mix and the other “attacking mids” who aren’t as good at the position as Bradley who is still better than them, even tho he is playing out of position.

      • so you think mix is better than bradley at the bottom of the diamond? you’re probably the only one.

        all i was saying was that they’d be better switched in that formation. but yay bradley! right?

      • Bradley is better then Mix in both CM positions. Mix has no business in a cdm role (or a cam role in my opinion) he provides very little in way of a defensive presence and turns the ball over far to often.

      • my point was that, if you’re going to have mix and bradley in the 2 center mid positions, mix should be further up the field than bradley. i really don’t see how this is controversial in any way.

      • Not feelin’ the love for Mix on the USMNT. From my observation he is a turnover machine as Atx_Colin pointed out and he seems to lack any kind of upper body strength. I’ve seen him get pushed off the ball by guys who appear to be doing nothing other than breathing on him. Perhaps it is time for Mix to hit the weight room and develop a little upper body strength to fight off physical challenges.

      • Mikey is the US’ best box to box midfielder.

        He has the freedom to go where he is most needed so that is what he has been doing and it seems to be working.

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