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Who should the USMNT start vs. Costa Rica?


Photo by Kirby Lee/ USA Today Sports


In the aftermath of Saturday’s CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico, the U.S. Men’s National Team faces an immediate return to action, for better of worse.

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will face some tough lineup decisions Tuesday as the USMNT takes on Costa Rica just three days after Saturday’s 120-minute defeat to Mexico. In the USMNT’s last friendly game before the start of World Cup qualifying, Tuesday’s clash will represent a chance for several players to make an impression ahead of another slate of meaningful games.

Bill Hamid, Mix Diskerud, Lee Nguyen, Brek Shea and Andrew Wooten have been added to the squad while eight players from Saturday’s roster have departed for their respective clubs. Now boasting a new-look squad, Klinsmann will have one final opportunity to mix and match, while also being tasked with balancing tired legs after an extra time marathon.

Which players will we see Klinsmann start and how will he line them up? Here’s the starting XI SBI think the USMNT will use against Costa Rica on Tuesday:

USA XI vs. Costa Rica

Some thoughts:

Starting with the goalkeeper position, Klinsmann has repeatedly reiterated his commitment to Brad Guzan as the team’s No.1 and Saturday’s performance did little to impact Guzan’s standing. The USMNT goalkeeper was left out to dry on the first two Mexico finishes, while Paul Aguilar’s strike was one that could have been stopped by few goalkeepers in the world. Generally blameless for the goals he surrendered, Guzan’s status as starter should be safe for now, as starting Tim Howard so quickly after Saturday’s defeat would surely sound many alarms on a potential goalkeeper controversy.

The players in front of Guzan will all but certainly change going into Tuesday, though. DaMarcus Beasley’s departure opens up a hole at left back, and Brek Shea looks to be the natural fit. Klinsmann has long seen Shea as a potential solution at left back and the Orlando City star certainly deserves a look Tuesday night. On the other end, Fabian Johnson remains Klinsmann’s first choice, although his starting spot depends on tired legs after playing 111 minutes. If he doesn’t start, Michael Orozco and Brad Evans will be in contention as replacement options.

Orozco and Evans could also figure into the centerback competition, but Klinsmann will likely opt to go with a different duo. Ventura Alvarado has always been viewed highly by Klinsmann, who will likely give him a chance to redeem himself after a frustrating Gold Cup. Alongside him, Klinsmann could opt to go with Tim Ream or Geoff Cameron, the latter of which will certainly not be available for a full 90 after playing 120 hard minutes Saturday evening. With that being said, Ream will likely be competing with Orozco for centerback minutes.

The defensive midfield position seems to be all set for Danny Williams following Kyle Beckerman’s departure. On his right, DeAndre Yedlin could use some additional games in the midfield ahead of November’s World Cup qualifiers, while Gyasi Zardes figures to be a key part of qualifying from his left midfield spot, even after playing 78 minutes Saturday.

Following Michael Bradley’s departure, questions do arise over who should lead the midfield unit from a more attacking position. Lee Nguyen is an option after being added to the roster, but Klinsmann hasn’t exactly given the New England Revolution midfielder moments to shine in the past. Mix Diskerud could also plug in anywhere in the central midfield, while Alejandro Bedoya is an option to be placed in a more attacking midfield role after missing the Mexico clash due to illness.

At the forward position, Bobby Wood should be penciled in for a start after scoring yet another big goal on Saturday. The 22-year-old forward has really come into his own in 2015 after initially struggling in his first several call-ups. Wood should see time Tuesday as he competes for further looks throughout World Cup qualifying.

If Wood is to factor into the coming qualifying round, Klinsmann may want to get a look at how he pairs up with Jozy Altidore. The Toronto FC forward went 98 minutes Saturday and shouldn’t be expected to play more than a half. However, getting a look at how he and Wood play off of each other will certainly be beneficial.

Other than Altidore, the U.S. has slightly slim pickings at the forward position with Clint Dempsey’s departure and Aron Johannsson’s injury issues. Andrew Wooten, who has scored six goals in 10 games in the 2. Bundesliga, could earn a well-deserved first cap as the only other recognized striker on the U.S. roster. Other than Wooten, Zardes remains an emergency option, although Klinsmann is unlikely to take his focus off the left midfield position.

What do you think of this lineup? Is there a player who is not listed here that you think will/should be? What type of formation would you choose against Costa Rica?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Altidore should NEVER play on National team again. Why do you guys (sportswriters) keep bringing up his name. The guy sucks totally. A worthless striker. Get him off the team!!!

  2. ———–——Wood——————–
    Shea–—Ream–-Cameron —–Yedlin

  3. Seriously need to think about the buzz kill caused by the recent failures. All the American Outlaws Teddy Golsevelt feel good can go away just as quick. Fire Sunil. Fire Klinsi.

  4. Does anyone really care at this point. The National Team program is a disaster and US Soccer is sitting there aloof to the situation as if we all don’t matter. Not only does FIFA stink but US Soccer is starting to smell also.

    Our Mens program has clearly regressed under Klinsmann despite having the largest pool of players in its history. Klinsmann may have been a great player but he is no coach. It’s becoming very, very clear why he was shown the door in Germany.

    • I care. The sheer volume of comments suggests lots of people care. So if you don’t, why are you here?

      These last 3 months of results have been bad. Nobody questions that. Thing is, lots of people here are thinking about solutions and making positive suggestions about how to move forward. Some of these suggestions involve replacing the coach, and that’s fine– partuclarly when the poster has a name in mind and an idea about why this works better given our resources.

      All you are doing is yelling “fire everybody” and complaining the “stench” of our organization to FIFA for some reason which you don’t bother supporting.

      If you don’t care, why not just leave and let the adults talk about it?

    • While we didn’t play well in the GC, it was really Panama that gave us the most trouble. People don’t want to look at it objectively, but we had 10 shots on goal vs. 3 for Jamaica, controlled the play for most of the game and they got both of their goals on very unusual plays, one really a fluke. We tied Panama in group, then tied them in the 3rd place game and lost on PK’s. That’s hardly catastrophic. We were only 2 minutes from going to PK’s vs. Mexico, hardly a terrible loss. Compare this to other, more storied teams. In the last World Cup we did better than Spain, Italy, England and, of course, Portugal, all teams in the top 10. Spain was one of the best teams of all time just a few years ago, but couldn’t make it out of their group. You can reasonably argue that all those teams have better players than the US. We have done better than England over the last 2 World Cups. In 2006 the French team basically imploded and mutinied. And people here are running around in panic because we lost some close games (2-1, PK’s, 3-2 in the last 2 minutes of overtime). Both Honduras and Costa Rica in CONCACAF have much more to worry about and Costa Rica just made the quarters in 2014. Argentina just lost the first two games in qualifying in COMENBOL (one to Ecuador in Argentina, a real shocker) and Holland has been in free fall and seems to be in danger of not making the Euro’s. The US problems seem minor in comparison.

      • Gary, with all due respect, that was not a fluke. It was a heady play that ended up in a goal. And if we cannot overcome flukes as you say then we don’t deserve to win. The GC was an absolute disaster. We were outshot and out-possessed by a considerable margin in group play and Jamaica out-smarted us, out-coached us, etc. We were never REALLY dangerous in the Jamaica game. Shoot, we were never really dangerous throughout the tournament. Goals are goals and Jamaica had more goals than the US at the end of the game…..they beat us fair and square. And who cares about the other teams you mention…really! Completely irrelevant. Our possession and distribution sux in a bad way. And as for the Mexico game, we chased and chased while the Mexicans played fluid, smart football. We were flat out gassed while the Mexicans had plenty in reserve to play an additional 30 minutes. The scoreline was extremely flattering and was not indicative of how the game played out. It could have easily been 4-2 or worse. The 3rd place game against Panama was even worse. Neither team wanted to be there but the Panamanians pulled it out and we didn’t. No one will ever argue that the US is better than Panama, but we sure didn’t look like it. Your optimism is great but time to be a realist. All in all, I’d say the past few months has been an unmitigated catastrophe! You seem to be a very knowledgable about our national team and I assume you’ve followed them for a long time…maybe longer than a lot of the other posters here. I mention that because I’ve been a diehard since before the ’94 WC, win or lose. But this team seems much different in a multitude of ways, and not good ones. The sky isn’t falling but something’s gotta give because this hole we’re digging ourselves into seems to be getting a bit deeper

  5. Scrap the diamond, they need five in the midfield to help keep possession. 3-5-2, 4-5-1, 4-1-4-1 whatever it is they need five in midfield and some true wingers to help the lone striker. Wooten has been playing on the wing for his club this season except for I think 3 games so I would like to see him out there. Shea isn’t a bad choice on the left. Put yedlin at rb and keep him there.

  6. It would be nice to see something totally different
    No Altidore. Though he has a knack for scoring in games that all but don’t matter, we’ve had enough of him (Not even TFC want him back in their big game against NYRBs)
    No Guzan (Not that he’s been playing bad or anything).
    4-4-2 (flat or diamond) and 4-2-3-1 have fell short against Jamaica, Panama and now Mexico…it would be nice to see Klinsmann try something else, like a 3-5-2 with a real CAM.
    Shea and Yedlin should spread the field with speed on the flanks, and Zardes plays in his real position with an actual goal scorer by his side,


    • Great — perhaps the best of the German-Americans has ow gotten on JK’s bad side. I wonder if FJ will be permanently relegated to the Klinsmann dog house now.

      • During the first round of the qualifiers last time Klinsmann refused to call in Jozy because he thought he needed an attitude adjustment. He also didn’t call in Chandler for well over a year. Both have obviously resurfaced since then. So, no, he isn’t necessarily banished forever. Reading these posts you would think some people here don’t follow any other sports. This happens in both college and professional sports all the time. You bench guys who don’t put the team first. Sometimes guys are thrown off a team for violating team rules.

  7. I just read on twitter (G wahl) that JK had words with Fabian about the manner in which Fabian exited the game and wanted him to rethink his approach to us soccer???? wtf?

  8. I just wish he’s bring benny back into the fold and try him with bradley in the midfield…what a depressing weekend for US Soccer.

  9. —-Altidore—-Wood—-

    Howard for Guzan (45′)
    Wooten for Altidore (45′)
    Diskerud for Bedoya (60′)
    Nguyen for Wood (change to 4-2-3-1) (60′)
    Cameron for Alvarado (80′)
    Spector for Yedlin (80′)

    Johnson was smart to be used as a cover for right back, but we now have time to give Yedlin the experience to grow into the RB role. This can allow us to push Johnson up into a natural wide role.

    Allow Bedoya to be the CM who pushes up more, but we shouldnt try to extinguish William’s ability to move forward. Instead make him push up intelligently and have Bedoya sit back. Sub in Mix to take over Bedoya’s role at 60.

    As much as people hate Altidore lately, his struggles are well know. When starved up service, he sucks. When service is good, he *usually* steps up. Allowing him to work with Wood up top and Johnson/Zardes on the side should help. After the long game, subbing him off at half time is smart. Also want to give Wooten a chance to play in a 4-4-2 before shifting to a 4-2-3-1.

    Bring on Nguyen and let him play in his natural AM position instead of forcing him to play in a 4-4-2 and have Wooten tried as a lone striker. Plus, having two systems that work would be a smart tactical move.

  10. Put Freddy Adu just behind the strikers with two defensive mids. Don’t even pretend that he plays defense. Then watch him play 89 minutes of listless soccer and 1 minute of breathless soccer in which he gets a goal or an assist. Right now I think I could more than live with that… (joking but not really, well sort of, but kinda all the way for/against this)

  11. Should have called in some more new players.

    Using what we have:
    -Shea–Ream–Cameron (c)–Yedlin–

  12. Regardless of what has happened the past couple weeks, the fact remains that our player pool is not populated with top end talent. At this time we have good players and serviceable players. At this point it is time (past time) to thank the elder statesmen for their services, namely Rimando, Beckerman, Beasley, Wondo, Evans, Dempsey & Jones) and move forward with the options that we’ve got (Hamid, Yarbrough, S. Johnson, Williams, Moralas, Morris, Shea, etc…). Take the remainder of the 2014 WC Squad and identify 2 potential alternates/replacements for each that will be under the age of 30 at the 2018 WC. Than each camp going forward call in at least 1 of each alternate in order to evaluate them and for them to gain experience with the team.
    There will be growing pains as all these players mature and grow into the International Game, but it is the only way to prepare for Hex and the world cup in 2018.

      • Not really. Outside of the January Camp where they invited a number of U-23 players (all released back to their clubs before the matches) they have only brought in Alvarado, Wood, and Zardes as new players over the past 12 months. They have been riding the coat-tales of Dempsey, Jones, and Beckerman (using them whenever they were available). They’ve continued to bring in Rimando & Wondo as depth options instead of getting younger options a chance to train with what is to be the core of the team.
        Most of the players they’ve brought in that weren’t part of the 2014 WC team were retreads (Spector, Orozco, Gordon, Davis, Corona, Ream, and Evans).

  13. When will we accept that we do not have a quality forward under the age of 35?, and no ability to hold onto the ball. Get some speed and enthusiasm up top. Time to shake things up. What do we have to lose?


    • What do we have to lose? How about WC qualifying? This isn’t the time to throw caution to the wind. Wooten and Wood both have potential.

    • If Morris wasn’t playing Canada in the U-23 game, he would be the best option for striker. I think we should give more chances to Wood. He does well as a late match sub, but can he do well if he starts? Let’s find out.

  14. First of all the diamond midfield has to go. We need two box to box CM’s and flank players. I would like to see:

    Wooten Altidore
    Zardes Nguyen Mix Yedlin
    Shea Cameron Alvarado FJ

    Take the shackles off and LET THEM PLAY…”openly”

    • We didn’t get beat the other night a better attacking team. We got beat by a better defensive team. All of our problems in the midfield was because of Mexico’s defensive pressure. Maybe we should focus on making improvements in defense phase?

    • Come on, there’s “let them play” and then there’s fielding a pathetically defensive line-up. You need more of a happy medium here.

  15. Why is Orozco even being considered? He wasn’t good enough to go to Brazil, he wasn’t good enough to play in the big game on Saturday and he’ll be 32 for the next World Cup so I doubt he will get any better than he is right now. I don’t see any upside to bringing him in anymore.

    • Actually, I think Orozco has, for the most part, performed well when given the chance. With Cameron out, I would rather see Orozco at CB before Alvarado.

      • I agree, but to the larger point if Jurgen doesn’t rate the guy highly enough to play in the big game now, why would he view him as an option going forward?

  16. The only people starting should be USSF crones starting to get a clue. Klinsmann cannot be allowed to take this team through qualifying. IMO, there would be a significant chance we would not qualify for WC ’18.

    • I was waiting for someone to come right out and say it. Others have hinted around the point, but I think you are the first to flatly state that point.

      So, question to anyone interested – how much worse are our chances of qualifying if JK remains?

      • I believe if he stays things get worse. It seems he has already lost the locker room to some extent. I think the some players are sick of him, his over training and under coaching style.

        Once you lose the locker room, things go down hill really, really fast.

  17. Oh, I dunno — let’s “shake things up” again and get guys “out of their comfort zones” and encourage “real competition for starting spots” so that the whole squad will “work harder for results”.

    Or something like that.

  18. FJ in midfield has to happen and stay that way. Fullback situation is certainly murky , but I think we have to just deal with it and see what happens. If we can’t develop speedy, overlapping-friendly, yet defensively responsible fullbacks, so be it. I think we will have enough quality CBs to deploy at FB if need be that can be positionally strong and good on the ball to compensate for lack of speed (Peru isn’t a top team but hard to say ream and Cameron didn’t take care of biz at FB that game). But it’s going to be essential to find a way for FJ to be in midfield.

    • Pretty much disagree as fully as possible. You build from the back – even when putting together rosters. FJ is the best corner we’ve ever had, and behind him the depth chart lacks depth.

  19. If the team wins, then Klinsy will say that this result shows that they are ready for qualifying.

    If the team loses, Klinsy will say that this result was about finding new players and they are ready for qualifying.

    It’s klinsy’s world, we just live in it.

  20. ——–Jozy—-Wood———

    Put players on the field that will go forward, if we give up some goals, who cares

      • Bedoya is a central midfielder, a shuttler type. Not a winger. Everyone is a winger to Jurgen, so where he plays for us doesn’t mean much.

      • Lee N wasn’t good enough to play in Holland and Bedoya plays regularly in France, a better league. Either you are wrong or a number of coaches in Europe can’t judge talent and ability.

      • Nguyen couldn’t play for the dutch champions more than half a decade ago. It seems likely that he’s improved somewhat since then.

      • He went from Holland to Vietnam, then to MLS, did very little the first year, had a great second year, started slowly this year, now doing better. In effect he has had one very good year and a promising year (this one) in MLS. I don’t see that as meaning he is definitely a lot better than Bedoya who has played a lot of international games, including the World Cup. I would hope Lee is better, but it hardly means he’s way better than an established international team player, as the poster suggested.

  21. I’d go with a 4-2-3-1 with wood up top, Johnson – bedoya – zardes, then Williams and mix, and shea – ream – Alvarado – yedlin across the back. I’d approach the roster starting with Johnson in his best position and see how the roster shakes out afterwards.

  22. ——–Wooten—-Wood———

    • I see a several posters calling for Wooten. I don’t remember even seeing him play for the US before. Can somebody clue me into why you think he should be starting. Not arguing your inclusion, just want more information about the guy.

  23. We begin WCQ in a month on Nov. 13. Even though this is a friendly, in preparation, I think we should be starting a stronger centerback pairing, such as Besler – Cameron, rather than Alvarado – Ream.

    • So tired of trolls. No more this guy! No more that guy! But I don’t have a clue who else to start. Because if I offer names, everyone will provide examples of how they also flubbed their opportunities when Jozy was hurt or didn’t start.

    • Actually, this jb tends to agree with SBI that Jozy should get a shot with another striker not named Dempsey. There aren’t a whole lot of other striker options on this roster and this game is about as meaningless as they come.

      Not sure about the midfield… if Bedoya is fit, then I would rather him out wide and give Nguyen a real chance in the central midfield spot.

  24. Hard to really care much about this meaningless friendly after they pooped the bed over the weekend. I can’t believe how disappointing they are right now.

    • I agree. Wooten and Wood up top, Nguyen at CAM, move Bedoya to RM and Yedlin to RB. Johnson asked to be taken out of the Mexico game, I can’t imagine he will be starting this game.

      • judging from many comments I’m learning that most don’t realize the unspoken notion that if a player, especially a NTer, asks to come out of a game uninjured, then, to the coach, it says they aren’t taking their profession seriously enough and staying in top shape. NT coaches do not generally accept unfitness (see: fat Ronaldo with Brazil, fat Tevez with ARG, etc)

  25. Juergen Klinsmann at all ten upfield positions and Jonathan Klinsmann in goal. In Klinsmann we trust. He is the savior of the program and the new messiah.

      • Starting forward for Stad de Reims. He’s French, but was born in Washington D.C., and has expressed interest in representing the USMNT. Don’t know how good he is, etc.

    • Still with this garbage? Kid has played nine senior games in his life and we want to cap him now! Give me a break – we went this nonsense with Julian “4th division” Green and he hasn’t proven to be the savior some expected. In fact other than Jones and Johnson most passport Americans have proven to be no better than the guys we already have. If this guy is a true stud, he’ll be playing for France!

      At its root the dual national mania is a belief that Americans can’t play soccer so we need ringers to save us.

      • He’s 19, starts in French 1st Div, and has 3 goals in 9 games.

        All OP asked was “why hasn’t he been contacted”, which I think is a pretty fair question.

      • “At its root the dual national mania is a belief that Americans can’t play soccer so we need ringers to save us.”

        which isn’t any worse than your belief that, if given a choice, no one would want to play for the usa.

    • Who says they have not? Eligible for u23s and USMNT and is doing well in his first pro season.. Why not?!

      We need some friendlies on the schedule to bring in some new blood

    • Understand the sentiment, but still it comes across badly. I intend to back this team no matter how far it drops. Wherever you are, you can always begin building from there. Who knows – maybe even if JK keeps the team, he might figure out he’s got to stop screwing around and out-smarting himself. He’s a national team coach, not someone trying to come up with the soccer version of E=MC2.


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