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Who should the USMNT start vs. Haiti?

photo by Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports


Playing two games in four days is always a challenge, especially when you are preparing to make a deep run in a month-long tournament.

Thankfully for Jurgen Klinsmann, he has a roster full of options to choose from.

Fresh off a hard-fought 2-1 win over a stubborn Honduras side on Tuesday, the U.S. Men’s National Team will continue its CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense on Friday. The Americans are set to take on Haiti in their second Group A match at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, but are in need of much improvement after looking second best for prolonged periods against the Hondurans.

The U.S. has the luxury, however, of already having one foot in the door for the next round of the competition after picking up three points in its opener. As such, Klinsmann can and seems likely to make a number of changes to his lineup against a Haitian team that is physically but not technically gifted.

Taking that approach vs. Haiti, which stunned Panama with a 1-1 tie on Tuesday, makes sense given the short turnaround the Americans face. It would also allow for reserve players to have a chance to state their case for more Gold Cup minutes.

Who will we see starting for the U.S. on Friday? Here is the lineup SBI thinks could take the field:

USMNT Projected XI vs. Haiti

Some thoughts:

There are five changes to the squad that started against Honduras, as Aron Johannsson, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, Greg Garza, and Brad Evans all make their way into the lineup.

Clint Dempsey has done a great job of scoring goals since returning to competitive action a week ago – he has netted three times in two games – but he’s an older player now at 32 years old and could be better served taking a breather in this one.

In Dempsey’s place in this starting unit would be Johannsson, who is hungry to make his case for more minutes. Chris Wondolowski is another option to start, but Johannsson seems a better fit to partner with Jozy Altidore – who is trying to round out into form himself – after spending time with him at AZ Alkmaar.

In the midfield, two changes seem probable. Jurgen Klinsmann said recently that Alejandro Bedoya needed to work up his fitness, and this match against the Haitians provides a perfect opportunity for the versatile midfielder to do just that on the right flank in place of DeAndre Yedlin.

The other alteration Klinsmann could make is inserting Mix Diskerud in the more withdrawn midfield spot. Diskerud would not be asked to play the position like Kyle Beckerman does, but would be charged with breaking up attacks, helping keep the ball, and linking up with captain Michael Bradley and promising youngster Gyasi Zardes in the midfield.

Klinsmann has shown a propensity to pair John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado together more often than not in recent months regardless of their performances, so the two tweaks in defense are more likely to come at the outside back spots. Right back Timmy Chandler makes way for Brad Evans against Haiti just like he did in the second half of the victory over the Hondurans, and Greg Garza slots in at left back for Fabian Johnson.

In goal, Nick Rimando might be worth a look. Klinsmann, however, will probably be more keen on keeping incumbent Brad Guzan out there so as to get him in a better rhythm.


What do you think about this lineup? Should Klinsmann make more changes to the lineup or is five already too many? Who would you start if you were the USMNT coach?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. They definitely will not start Jermaine Jones and Charlie Davies. Also not starting will be Landon Donovan, Stuart Holden, Josh Gatt, Marc Pelosi, Joe Gyau, and Kamani Hill

    Those are just my projections though.

  2. Jozy Dempsey
    Zardes MB Yedlin
    FJ Brooks Ream Evans

    Klinsi likes D to be able to handle the ball and will give ream a chance (hasn’t won back to back player of year honors for nothing even if it is with Bolton) he’s better than Alvarado IMO and klinsi still isn’t convinced with gonzo chandeler is a waste and yedlin/Evans work much better together

  3. yes, i could see resting him after 6 pts. another advantage there is that panama should be a tougher opponent for the understudy. if that’s mix, he should do well.

    the key is to have the rest come well before MB starts tailing in his performance.

  4. am i the only one who thinks bradley should stand down for this one?

    1. though MB is smart and tough and will always want to rally, he is definitely human and not immune from overwork. he looked stale and ordinary in the world cup. if JK is going to rest him, this is a good time.

    2. if we don’t start playing a bradley understudy in meaningful games like this one, eventually we are going to get caught with pants down. bradley WILL get injured a some point. what then?

    3. the usmnt is good enough to beat haiti without MB.

    my 2 cents…

    • I guess I agree that I would like to see Bradley out at some point, but maybe next game after 6 points are secure and it is right in the middle of the tournament? I also see a legit argument for playing him all tournament if winning is as large a goal as they say it is.

      FWIW, as long as he is playing in this attacking mid role, I think Mix is already there as an understudy (Bedoya too) who can play there if needed.

  5. Who should play? I’d go with…

    Altidore Johannsson
    Dempsey Bradley Diskerud
    Johnson Brooks Gonzales Yedlin

    I’d rather see Dempsey at left mid. You could replace either Altidore or Johannsson with Zardes up front. That would be ok. You could add Ream, that would probably work just as well. Zardes, however, lacks the technical ability to be in a diamond midfield. As soon as Zardes gets heavy pressure (same goes for Yedlin in the midfield) he can’t handle it. We need more skill in the midfield. That’s a major reason we looked to bad against Hondruas… couldn’t keep the ball, much less punish reckless pressure.

    I’m not keen on Zusi in the mid (too slow) or Bedoya (great work rate, but too little offense).

  6. I don’t see Evans starting, the one thing Haiti has going for it is a bit of speed, more likely that Chandler says there. Maybe the same for FJ at RB.

    I’m of the mind that Haiti will pack the defense in and Yedlin’s speed will not be so useful so Bedoya (or Mix) there to see if better short passing ability might be useful.

    Beckerman plays smart enough that he does not expend lots of energy running around, I think we might see him back. In any case if he needs rest, it is better to rest him (Dempsey or any other who may need rest) in the 3rd game so they are fresher for the elimination games.

    I suspect that in this game Wondo will have a better time of it than Altidore or AJ, but don’t think Klinsmann will start him.

    I do not think any player will be rested this game. The goal is to advance and that means the best team starts tonight. If players need rest, with 2 wins, the US can rest the whole starting 11 from the Honduras game in preparation for the elimination games.

  7. I would think we will see virtually same lineup as before. We win tonight and then starters get almost a week off as beating Panama is not necessary.

  8. A reasonable take:
    You need Altidore’s hold up play. Dempsey is nifty in hold up game, but he doesn’t stay on the ball long enough without going down. Sometimes it results in nice passing (Donovan used to be expert at running off Demps) but sometimes it results in a giveaway where you would rather just retain possession.
    That said, i can see leaving Altidore out here, I’m just not sure who to replace him with. Do w we maybe play a five man midfield? Dempsey has never been a great lone striker, but maybe with Mix and MB as AMs, and Beoya and Johnson running down the flanks enough offense can be generated.

    So here goes:
    ————————–Not Rimando—————————–

    As stated above, I need two dangerous threats to goal out wide to make the single-not hold up player work. Dempsey will have to do a lot of work, and is kind of a false 9 here. I think JK has been priming Dempsey for something else other than a striker role and maybe this is the ultimate plan.

    Mix and Bradley are two of (if not THE) top two offensive players on the squad so it would be really nice to have both out there at the same time. Neither of them should have so much defensive responsibility that they are hamstrung from contributing to attack.

    I don’t love Beckerman, but I don’t like Morales. Seems like the three players I prefer there (Williams, Kitchen, Cameron- not in that order) coach does not.

    I want Ream to play, but Brooks is fine too.

    • There is some merit to your thought process here- You essentially want to see if Deuce can be in a Messi type role pre-Suarez. Or how Roma played when MB was there.
      The pros are that would fit our pool of midfielders quite well, since we don’t have Donovan type guys on the outside, we just have wide midfielders, not fast attacking wingers.
      It would also fit guys like Zardes, Green, Woods, a few other youngsters coming up.
      But there’s 2 immediate cons that jump out at me-
      1, Deuce likes to come back and pick up the ball, but other teams know he’s not the quickest, they know he’s the only one with a record of scoring, and if they bang on him enough they can get in his head. People complain he goes down and then yells at the ref.. but when you look at replays, that guy gets battered
      2. The style you suggest it’s imperative your backline is so solid they read each other’s minds. Does Pirlo strike fear in opponents as a deep mid defensively? Ha, no way. But he’s got a brick wall behind him

      And by the way, JK does rate Williams and Cam as D mids. Stoke asked Cam be left off the Gold Cup and Williams is taking the off season to let his knee heal up properly

      • I agree with your criticisms actually, I am trying to get into JK’s head a bit as well though.

        On #1: He does lose his head at times. Absolutely, he would have to be a slightly different player, but I see him more of the way the Dutch used RvP. With Robben and Lens adding to the attack outside.Bradley and Mix in the Sneider and Strootman roles.Beckerman as DeJong, and I actually think the personel is not an all bad fit for that type of system. Obviously Bedoya will never havd Robben skillz, but Yedlin may yet. So there will be less coming back and holding up for Duece and more contributing to build up with Bradley and Mix then heading to the net to head or blast in passes.

        On #2: JK thinks they already can. Watching the last few matches the defenders are being encouraged to move around a lot more than they used to and often Beckermen, Zardes and Yedlin were all the way back or the CBs were swung out and Beckerman back in.

      • And for what it is worth, I meant Evans at RB, Davis should be on the Cosmos or something right now, not the USMNT

      • Not criticisms, just pros and cons. As you’re speaking of the Dutch, they played the 5-3-2 in Brazil, and I wish JK had taken a look at it more than one game. I believe it suits our current personnel. We’ve got CBs who can pass the ball now, we have wingbacks, we have forwards that all play better with a partner, and we don’t have speedy attacking wingers.
        We have guys with versatility like Cam, Jones, and it frees up MB to roam.
        Problem is, nobody except Ream plays it

    • The lineup you propose is a very defensive one, which is fitting if we are playing a superior team or playing an equivalent team on the road. We are playing an inferior opponent at home in a game we need to win. This situation cries out for two strikers and an attacking lineup.

  9. I see no logic in ALtidore, Alvarado, or Chandler playing. They;re all terrible. Alvarado could get better, ok, Chandler is very odd, and ALtidore… I don’t understand anyone who supports a team they want to win having him in their lineup. He may be the worst striker I have ever seen. I am new to us and national team, but from what I saw of Altidore in europe and lately for the us, i’ sure my niece is a better footballer than him.

    • Watch a video of the US vs. Serbia about a year ago and see why Klinsmann sticks with Altidore. Or look at US vs. Nigeria right before the World Cup Altidore was outstanding against those two quality opponents. Wayne Rooney, England’s best striker, once went 18 months between goals for his national team. There are some in Argentina who are even complaining about Messi’s play for the Argentine national team. I’m not saying Altidore is in their class, but he produces about as well for the US national team as those two international stars do for their national teams.

      • Gary Page, the statement “Wayne Rooney, England’s best striker, once went 18 months between goals for his national team”… true, Also Torres was red hot for Athletico Madrid, then Liverpool and lost form in Chelsea for a long period……But none of these players went 2 whole seasons (42 appearances) between goals (well you can’t really say between if you have only one goal to your name). If you can’t accomplish fine tuning your game in 2 whole seasons with Sunderland you think you can do it with a game or two with the national team when you hit a drought? nope
        ……….Maybe, since he can’t score but has good hold up play, he should be playing on the wing and Zardes up top

      • “Maybe, since he can’t score but has good hold up play, he should be playing on the wing and Zardes up top”

        I’ve long believed Jozy at LW with Dempsey (AJ or Zardes) in the middle and a speedy crosser (Yedlin, Gyau?) at RW would be ideal. Jozy played LW a lot for NYRB when he was 16 etc, it was almost as if he transformed into a lone striker once going to europe.

        we may disagree over rating the player but at least we seem to agree on where he should play.

  10. YAH Boy! IT game tyme, 4-0 USA!


  11. I think JK goes for lineup continuity and speed to keep up with Haiti, so I doubt we’ll see 5 changes. I expect this:

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

    Less of a need for a true #6, so Mix gives Beckerman a rest. AJ gives Deuce a rest, and Bedoya comes in to help with possession that we were NOT good with against Honduras. Only 3 new starters.

    • Alvarado out and Antigoal out. How you gonna leave out Dempsey when he scored two goals and reward Lazydore with a start ahead of him. However, Klinsmann is such a dumbtard he may just do it. Gonzo for Alvarado, he’s cap tied already.

  12. I have a feeling we will see Omar as CB along with Brooks. Haiti has speed, so he may stick with Fabian at left back and maybe put Yedlin at RB with Bedoya at right wing. I think the other changes in the article–AJ for Demps and Mixx for Beckerman will also be made.

  13. Anyone but Chandler. Why did we ever give him the time of day after the games he played being called up to USMNT. So many others could’ve proven themselves in the mean time

  14. Altidore must start and play another 60min or so. He needs to find a rhythm. This is not a matter of “who is a better pairing up top” to be honest because it’s Haiti. Let’s see if we can get him in a rhythm these next couple games. We don’t have another hold-up striker on this roster.

    I’m calling it that Tim Ream starts!

    • If Altidore needs to find his rhythm, we are in trouble. He shouldn’t play just because his family is from Haiti. The game needs to be won. If he doesn’t have his rhythm by now we are in trouble. The rhythm starts in the defense. It starts with the goalie kicking the ball to his own team. The team then needs to look around to see where the ball needs to go. I was really surprised how inattentive the receiving players were in the Honduras game. That goes for Zardes and also Yedlin. Every player has to be awake enough to expect the ball to come to him whoever that is. It shouldn’t be as predictable as some players expected it to be.

      • “He shouldn’t play just because his family is from Haiti”. Why would that ever be a consideration..?
        I’m talking about finding his rhythm game to game, gaining confidence, building up his fitness again (big picture stuff) so that by the time we get further along, we have a confident, strong striker ready to perform against the likes of Mexico and Costa Rica (or a physical Honduras again!)

        I somewhat agree with your comment about the lack of attentiveness although it had nothing to do with my statement.

  15. Agree with Byrdman, the last group stage game with knockout advancement secured will be the game to rest the older/injured players. My lineup changes would be Garza on at LB, pushing FJ to left mid, pushing Zardes up top for Altidore. Yedlin out, Mix in (unless Bedoya is 100%, then him).

  16. If the Usmnt wins friday and honduras beats panama, then USMNT wins the group. They can rest anyone they want in final group game. I dont think we see wholesale changes. Probably a couple. Just my feeling of JK’s thinking.

  17. For this one, in order to give a few guys rest I’d like to see:


    No way Altidore sits against Haiti, the game means too much to him.

    • Why do we have to take Dempsey out when he scored two goals and reward Lazydore with yet another opportunity?

      • if you could take your personal bias out of it maybe you would see that resting your older star striker vs the weakest team in the group isn’t that outlandish… I”m not arguing that its the best/worst move, just stating the occurrence of the option is pretty normal.

  18. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yarbrough either start this game or come on as a halftime sub if we have a lead just so he will be cap-tied.

  19. This might be the worst projected lineup I’ve seen anywhere. They have to win. Jurgen said he wants the defense to get more minutes together. Fabians out best player. Jurgent wants Dempsey to lead gold cup in scoring. No way they change half their lineup. Maybe 1-2 changes. Not 5

    • I’m with you. I expect we’ll load up the starters against Haiti, secure advancing, and then let people rest and others get their shot against Panama.

      We don’t want to go into that Panama game needing a result – those guys always seem to give us trouble. Less up here than down there, but still squandering the chance to put away doubt against Haiti is bad hoodoo.

  20. Altidore AJ

    Zardes Bedoya
    FJ Chandler
    Omar Alvarado

    I like having Mix above Bradley. They both appear to be more comfortable and dangers in these spots.

  21. —————————-Zardes————————–Dempsey—————————–

    ———Fabian J—————Bedoya—————–Bradley————Yedlin———–


    —————————————–Brad Evans————————————————-

    Zardes up top with Dempsey, Bedoya orchestrating the midfield with Bradley, no Jozy Altidore, Fabian Johnson on the wing, 4-4-2 formation……..

    • I love the idea of Fabian in the midfield and Zardes up top with Dempsey. Add Bedoya and I think we’ll see a whole lot more possession and fluidity. I’m still not 100% set on Yedlin on the wing, although he was dangerous with his speed. Call me a weirdo but I’d slot Yedlin to RB add Mix to the midfield (Bedoya on the right), and switch out Alvarado for Gonzalez.

    • Not bad, not bad… no defensive mid is a bit of a gamble there. But an interesting shake up that could do well. I like your thinking in that. If it was a friendly I’d say why not, but tight now I think it would be too risky.

    • This. I like the idea of Bradley working with Bedoya in the middle but Mix or Beckerman is more likely with Bedoya at LM. Evans deserves a shot at gk too, jk

      Wouldn’t mind seeing Zardes-Wondo up top, rest the others and those two just seem fitting vs this oppenent

    • Bradley needs to be in the middle. ince the midfield needs to have really fast wings, Zardes should be there. I would like to see Wondo start.

  22. I was skeptical, but Gyasi Zardes has won me with his play. Fast and resourceful, just needs to fine tune his first touch, not that he has the worst first touch.

    • I was skeptical as well, but he has a very good work ethic and he hustles. His first touch isn’t very good for a professional player, but that can be developed. His hustle and work rate, along with his solid play, is worth the tradeoff. I honestly would have liked to see him at some point up top with Dempsey for the hell of it, to see how things would pan out but it may be too late now. I can see how Klinsmann likes him as a winger, he can put a lot of work in — and some defensive work — on the flank when we have AJ and Jozy ahead of him. He also seems eager to keep learning and doing what’s expected of him, which is always great for a team.

      • I don’t know if it’s so much that JK likes him as a winger (especially in that diamond formation) that he values his raw speed and tenacity and wants him on the field somewhere. Plus JK knows that Zardes needs games at this level.

        It’s more a function of our pool of players.
        As much as the bleacher crowd loves to weigh in on how much better at player selection they are than our coaches, one unpleasant fact remains. We have TWO players who have proven they can score goals.
        The inherent issue (for which there is no obvious answer) is that Deuce and Jozy are the best choices… But Deuce is better with someone like Marteens who hustles his butt off, and Jozy isn’t that guy, but when Jozy is on he scores goals.

        This is like in Football- Who is the most popular player on almost every team?? The BACKUP QB.

        Wondo has proven himself in MLS, but not at a higher level.
        AJ is the guy everyone WANTS to be the next guy, but he was Jozys backup and Jozy destroyed that league and AJ isn’t there yet in a league where defending is optional.
        Boyd had one good season but looked overwhelmed at the Intl level.
        Zardes is exciting and has tremendous upside, but when Keane was out he produced diddly.

        So as much as the peanut gallery weighs in on why Morris, Wood, Rubin, Aguedelo etc. should be on the squad, until someone somewhere somehow starts putting the ball in the net more than a few times a season… ya gotta dance with who you got.

        I think this is why JK is stuck on this Diamond. We have two guys who are proven scorers, we have no dangerous wingers- just a group of hardworking outside mids…, and we’re loaded with defensive midfielders. Hence the obsession with MB playing higher.
        I think JK would love to go to a 4-3-3, but it doesn’t work with our pool.
        So Zardes is worth the risk and needs to play.

      • Pretty good analysis, IMO. Against weaker opponents we could play a 4-3-3 with Zardes up top. Also, Dempsey may only have one or two good years left and JK may be grooming Zardes to take over for Dempsey. Another possibility is that Zardes becomes the speed striker we hoped that Charlie Davies would become, or that Bradley thought Robbie Findley would be in 2010. Then you have a power guy in Altidore and Zardes to stretch defenses. In the meantime, you have to play Dempsey since he’s our best scorer.

  23. Alvarado started last game to cap tie him. I see Omar raplacing him. I don’t see Klinsman not putting Dempsey or FJ in the lineup.
    Jozy and Dempsey need to build chemistry – they haven’t been clicking. So Dempsey gets start instead of AJ. FJ at LM instead of Zardes.
    If they win tomorrow the last game is a wash and that’s when guys will get a rest.
    Just my thought.

    • Have Gonz and Brooks been paired together yet? I can’t recall an instance though I could be wrong.

      • You are wrong this time. Very last game before Gold Cup vs. Guatemala, they started together. Maybe you were being sarcastic to take a jab at Klinsmann’s fanboy club, but I digress.

      • Yes, they have been paired together. Specifically our Gold Cup warmup game against Guatemala.

      • I disagree with Klinsmann. Holding up is not always necessary. The only time it’s necessary is when you have a weak midfield. But since there are some very strong midfielders, there should not be as much need for Altidore’s hold-up qualities. If he is in that spot, he should at least once in a while not hold up but score instead. This hold-up stuff is too predictable..

  24. Is there any particular reason FJ is not in the starting lineup? I would rather have him on the left instead of Zardes with Garza at left back if we’re going to insert Garza into the starting lineup.

  25. My guess is he keeps the back four, Guzan and Dempsey together, and any substitutions are made in midfield. But I also think he wants to build some cohesiveness… so My guess is that there is a single change… and that change is beckerman. Keep in mind, he is still auditioning some of these guys (Yedlin for a loan, Zardes for anyone outside of MLS, Alvarado for anyone outside of Mexico, etc. and I actually think you see Morales before Mix b/c he needs to audition Morales)

    • The auditioning point is interesting. Do you think clubs are really watching the USMNT in CONCACAF group play? Maybe, but I’m not sure. I would think auditions would have been during recent friendlies, and a future (hopefully) finals.

    • I like your line-up, except that Morales won’t start in mine. Mix or Becky in; make the necessary adjustments.

    • I don’t think you need Morales if you have Mix. Although I prefer Mix as a CAM, he would end up playing behind Bradley for the most part. Thus, Morales isn’t really needed. So, if you take out Morales, Zardes will be on the left with FJ, while Bedoya is on the right with Yedlin, although I also don’t see that happening. Bedoya either takes over for Yedlin on the wing, or Bedoya sits while Yedlin plays the wing and Chandler plays RB. I don’t see JK making too many changes to the previous lineup, but I do prefer Gonzo for Alvarado.

      I’d say the likely change, if any, is Mix for Beckerman. Maybe AJ for Jozy due to Jozy’s affiliation with Haiti. We shall see.

    • That line-up looks a little better. But I would kind of like to see Wondolowski instead of Altidore next to Johannsson. I foresee problems in the defense with Diskerud in that spot. I think Diskerud needs to play higher up. If Diskerud plays, Bradley should play farther back.


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