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Who should the USMNT start vs. Canada?

USMNT starting lineup vs. Iceland

Nearly a month’s worth of hard work resulted in the U.S. Men’s National Team picking up a win in the first of its 2016 winter camp friendlies, and now the Americans are aiming to wrap up things up with another victory against a familiar foe.

The U.S. will write the next chapter in its series vs. Canada on Friday, as the northern rival travels to StubHub Center in Carson, California, for the Americans’ second friendly of the year. Jurgen Klinsmann’s side is coming off a 3-2 triumph over Iceland at that same venue, but Sunday’s narrow win did not come without its hiccups.

Most notably, the defense struggled seemingly every time that Iceland got forward. Even veteran players made avoidable mistakes, and it came back to cost the U.S. more than once. The Americans have since lost a pair of starters from that game in Brad Evans and Michael Orozco, who have been sent back to their clubs, and that means that Klinsmann will have to go young or get creative to fill those holes in the lineup.

The U.S. attack, on the other hand, showed more promise by keeping possession for large stretches and dictating the tempo for much of the game, and Klinsmann will be hoping to see more of the same on Friday. Some changes could be in the offing, however, given how encouraging some of the substitutes looked vs. Iceland.

Who will Klinsmann trot out against the Canadians? Here is a lineup that we could see:





Some thoughts:

The departures of Brad Evans and Michael Orozco will likely force Jurgen Klinsman to have to lean on a pair of younger defenders against Canada. The one obvious candidate is centerback Steve Birnbaum, who had the game-tying assist and match-winning goal as a substitute against Iceland. Birnbaum could again play next to Matt Besler, and form a solid pairing up the heart of the back line.

As for right back, Matt Polster appears to be the favorite given the options available. Polster saw some time at that position with the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team last year, and giving him more experience there would come in handy in case he has to start there when the younger Americans take on Colombia in March’s Olympic qualifying playoff.

Another option Klinsmann may consider is swapping Kellyn Acosta from the left flank over to the right and handing Brandon Vincent his U.S. debut. Acosta’s solid showing at left fullback against Iceland and Klinsmann’s praise for the FC Dallas youngster’s debut performance seem to make that unlikely, however.

Do not expect many changes to the rest of the lineup. Klinsmann is once again probably going to go with a 4-4-2 formation given how it looks to better suit forward Jozy Altidore, and allows the U.S. head coach to pair Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones together in central midfield.

Still, a change could come on the right flank. Ethan Finlay was by and large not a factor during his U.S. debut, and while first-game nerves could explain the indifferent outing, his inability to make an impact could see someone like Darlington Nagbe get the nod. Nagbe continued to show some good things off the bench on Sunday, including putting himself in good positions, and seems ready to be given a start.

If Nagbe is included in the starting lineup, he would likely once again be used as a left midfielder. That means that Lee Nguyen, who started at that spot over the weekend, would have to move to the right side. Nguyen showed more promise on the flank than he did when he was in the middle against Iceland, and Klinsmann may want to see more of what he can do operating further wide.

The only two positions that remain are the other forward spot and goalkeeper. Gyasi Zardes is a player Klinsmann has heavily leaned on during the past year, so it seems to be a no-brainer that Zardes is handed the start next to Altidore once again. As for who will man the pipes, Klinsmann may want to go younger in this game, and could replace Luis Robles with Sean Johnson.

What do you think of this projected lineup? Who would you like to see included that isn’t? Like the idea of pairing Altidore and Zardes up top together?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. —–Jozy-Morris—–

    Subs: Trapp, Kiesewetter, Zardes, Miller/Parker, Kitchen

    We need a nickname for Jerome Kiesewetter ASAP. How about JK?? 😛 Let’s just call him Jerome for now.

    I also wouldn’t mind seeing Bingham instead of Johnson, but I’m not sure I like the idea of them splitting halves. A keeper is playing a deeper chess game than most of the other players one the field, and it seems like if we switched them at halftime we’d be judging them more on their ability to communicate a complex strategy in 15 minutes than their ability to keep the goal safe.

    I’m not dismissing Finlay, I just think he played way too tight and kept mishitting his strikes and crosses. He didn’t do enough to keep us from taking a longer look at Nagbe and Lee. Although, I can see why this might be the wrong viewpoint coming from the manager’s perspective. You don’t want to shoot his confidence completely, and giving him 25 minutes at the end of the game might be a good idea.

    I’m done with Mix for the moment. I’m questioning his intelligence and gusto until he regains his old form with his club. Right now I think he was a kid who showed a lot of glimpses at what he could be, but at 25 he’s showing he may have taken some of his inherent skills and prowess for granted.

    I have hope for Khiry–maybe he should get a look instead of Zardes–but he really didn’t show a lot in his first professional season, albeit playing for a lackluster squad.

    Tchani played okay and I want to see more, but he wasn’t amazing, and now I want to see what Trapp and Kitchen AND Acosta have to offer.

    I wish we had a U-23 CB, GK, and AM on this team, but I know that’s asking for too much.

    • I know Acosta plays as a CM for Dallas, but with the number of quality CMs we have both in camp and within the US System I’d rather have him playing/competing at a position of NEED. There are only a handful of LB options (Fabian, Ream, Shea, Pelosi, Payne, Acosta, Vincent) where as there are 3x as many CMs.

  2. Jozy now has everybody doing the half duck. A lot of us wanted to know why Jozy never put his hand over his heart during the anthem, which was a valid question that he addressed, but his refusal to squat is something that I find more intriguing. Now that they all are doing it, I badly want to know the reasons.

  3. Funny thing is, the same people that call for all the U23s to get a shot to prepare for Columbia, would be the first ones to scream for JKs head if we lose to Canada.

  4. I would like to see Kieswetter and Altidore together, they are not the same kind of player. I think Kieswetter’s ability to dribble and cross would bring something to the top of the US lineup that it has not had in a while.
    The only reason to include Jones is for some defensive bite, composure and experience. I am not so sure that is needed vs Canada and would like Kitchen to get an extended look at DM

  5. I have just a couple changes,
    – i like the backline, but wouldnt be shocked if bingham and johnson each took a half, with the hamid injury that 3rd spot is very much up for grabs
    -I think this team works better with a little more natural width, which is why I would start morris and finlay (who i actually liked vs iceland, ran at people constantly). I dropped zardes from my lineup and inserted nguyen in the hole in front of jones and altidore
    -We really gotta get a good look at either kitchen, trapp or even tchani for 25-30 minutes as another option behind jones if a suspension is looming. Interesting thing with trapp or tchani is where they play, trapp usually holds and tchani is a box to box, but im not sure if trapps physical enough at the international level to play as a number 6.
    -besler really needs a solid game, i feel like brooks keeps closing in on him for the starting spot
    -i would also like to see mix, nagbe, vincent and kiesewetter off the bench in this one.

  6. I was disappointed that Morris didn’t get more time in the last game. I had hoped he would start. I would start him with Altidore and then replace Altidore with Zardes at the half to see how these different combinations work. I agree that it’s time to stop playing JJones so much. It’s a friendly, so give more time to the youngsters. Also, during the Gold Cup Canada showed they have some good players, but sorely are lacking when it comes to finishing, so the US should play attack minded football.

    • As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t really matter if it’s Zardes or Morris starting. I just want to give one of the younger guys the start/minutes to see how they’ll perform as a lone striker.

  7. ————————-Zardes———————-

    Subs: Jozy @ 60 (for Zardes), Finlay @ 60 (for Jerome) , Parker @ 70 (for Besler),
    Tchani @ 70 (for Kitchen), Trapp @ 70 (for Nguyen shift Bradley forward),

    Having the Columbus Crew players out together will provide them with the chemistry they need to maximize their performances to really see how they stack up against their competition.

    I don’t want to see Jones getting any minutes in this game unless Bradley gets a knock. I just don’t see the point when the younger players need the on field experience. JJ is a known commodity at this point and we won’t learn anything more about him or the young players if he continues to be featured in these meaningless friendlies.

  8. I don’t understand why he would play Jones at all? Zardes for that matter too. He stunk the place up last time out so lets reward with another start?

    Nguyen did better outside because he actually got the ball out there. You could count on one hand the number of times Bradley passed to him when he was playing withdrawn forward and even if things looked like they might develop, here came ball chaser Nagbe to get in the way. I think Nagbe has potential but until he learns to play a team game, he will just be a curiosity

  9. I’m wondering if we’ll see jones moved back into defence. That would allow some other guys to get a look in midfield. Right back is an area with a lot of questions right now so it’ll be interesting to see who starts in that position.

    • To elaborate on that I could’ve sworn I remembered Kitchen being deployed as a right back at one point. Also I think it’d be interesting if Jones actually played right back instead of centrally.

      • agreed. a lot of midfielders here and enough but no real standout defenders. Jones or Kitchen to RB or CB sounds like it could work (last year’s 3 man backline might have been asking too much but this could be fine).. a Nagbe-Bradley-Nguyen midfield, preferably in front of Trapp would be really exciting.

  10. —— Altidore —- Morris —–
    -Nguyen – Bradley —- Kieswetter-
    ————– Jones ———————–
    ————— Bingham —————–

    – Jozy, Bradley, Nguyen and Jones all showed a lot in the last game – good spine to keep consistent
    – Morris, Kieswetter, Acosta, Birnbaum all earned more minutes
    – idk we heard Park, Miller and Bingham had good camps or where talked about — why not
    – would like to see Trapp and Nagbe get some good PT

  11. I have no idea, because I have no idea about what JK wants to accomplish. Play as many U-23s together as possible to prepare for the Colombia matches? Get as many likely/possible senior team guys as possible on the field together to get ready for upcoming qualifiers? Audition some fringe players? Keep Jones on the field at all costs, and for no discernible reason?

      • Why has he earned that right? There’s no chance he’s around for Russia so why not start seeing who may fill that void?

      • You would think more of the U23s would play this match to start building towards march especially considering there won’t be more opportunities for them to build continuity before that first match vs Colombia. I would love to see Kissewetter get a start on that RW, with Lee in the hole and Nagbe at LW.

    • They can depending on the infraction and the reason for the suspension. In most cases a standard red card won’t carry over, but one for a physical altercation with a ref may. Look at Dempsey’s suspension last year….that was in a cup game, but he was left out of the USMNT until after serving his suspension.

  12. Insane I know but I really want to see:

    Kiesewetter – Altidore – Morris
    Nagbe – Bradley – Nguyen
    Acosta – Birnbaum – Jones – Polster

    Admit it…would be fun to watch!

    • I said immediately after the Iceland match that I’d love to see more of Nagbe, Nguyen and Bradley in the midfield as a trio.

      I think managers are inherently more defensive than fans would like but I’m ready for a new tone coming from the midfield and that trio put together some exciting attacks.

    • oddly enough, i believe that he only serves the suspension when he gets signed to a club? meaning if he’s still unattached at the time of the guatemala matches, he can play? it sounds weird, but that’s what i heard.


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