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Who should the USMNT start vs. Guatemala?

Photo by Jim Brown/USA Today Sports
Photo by Jim Brown/USA Today Sports

The road to Russia goes through Guatemala City on Friday, and the U.S. Men’s National Team will be looking to improve upon its 2-0 record in 2016.

Following two friendly wins against Iceland and Canada, Jurgen Klinsmann’s men head to Guatemala, where they will play their third CONCACAF qualifying game of the fourth round (10:06 p.m., beIN Sports USA/beIN Sports Connect/NBC Universo/NBC Deportes en Vivo Extra). The road qualifying match will be the second one away from the States for the USMNT, which played Trinidad and Tobago to a 0-0 draw in Port of Spain on Nov. 17.

Four days before that tie, the U.S. earned an impressive 6-1 win vs. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis. Currently on four points, the Americans sit atop Group C due to their +5 goal differential. Guatemala, which defeated Saint Vincent and the Grenadines but lost at home to T&T, sits in third.

Since those games, many Americans, including Fabian Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, John Brooks and Bobby Wood, have had incredible runs of form for their club teams and will be wanting to have the same impact at the international level.

Jozy Altidore and Johnson have suffered injuries recently, and their statuses are questionable heading into the first competitive fixture of the year.

What lineup will Klinsmann use in Guatemala? Here is one he could trot out:





Some thoughts:

Klinsmann told reporters Toronto FC forward Altidore is available to play on Thursday, but using him while not fully fit may prove to be too much of a risk for the U.S. head coach.

Clint Dempsey and Bobby Wood, who has been scoring at will for FC Union Berlin in the 2. Bundesliga, should be able to produce more than enough chances on their own in Guatemala. It would make sense for Altidore to rest on Friday before starting in Columbus next Tuesday.

DeAndre Yedlin has played a majority of his minutes for Sunderland at right back this season, and has proven to be very efficient there for the English Premier League relegation contender. However, Klinsmann has shown in the past that he likes to use Yedlin further up the field because of his speed and creativity. The former Seattle Sounders fullback played at both the right winger and right back positions for Klinsmann during last year’s qualifiers, and should be selected to start at the former on Friday.

Another question mark for Klinsmann is the status of Johnson, who has been recovering from a groin strain suffered last Friday. If he’s available and close to 100 percent, the Borrussia Monchengladbach midfielder will likely get the nod to start on the left wing, but Gyasi Zardes can fill in there if need be.

Against both island nations last November, Klinsmann opted to pair Matt Besler with Cameron. The result: one goal allowed and steady play overall. Yet, it’s hard to ignore the fantastic form Brooks has been in, so Klinsmann should use he and Cameron in the center of the back line or shift Cameron to right back in order to keep three of his best defenders on the field. Omar Gonzalez will surely be competing with Besler for the centerback spot next to Brooks, but Klinsmann might not want to pair too similar of players in Brooks and Gonzalez.

The goalkeeping position has been one up for debate this past week, especially since Brad Guzan and Tim Howard have not played too many minutes for their EPL clubs this year. Earlier this week, Klinsmann said the likes of David Bingham and William Yarbrough are the future of the USMNT, but chances are Klinsmann chooses someone who has had experience playing on the road in a hostile environment like Guatemala City. Howard, therefore, seems like a shoe-in to start.

What do you think of this projected lineup? Anyone included/omitted that you are hoping is not? Would you stick with this formation or try something else?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. ———–Dempsey————Wood—————–

  2. I’d go with something more along the following:

    If Fabian isn’t healthy enough than insert Nagbe or Zardes. There is no need to have a true CDM against Guatemala so Beckerman sits out (thankfully). Nagbe gets subbed in for Nuygen around the 60th minute mark.

    • I think you are right on for Columbus, but I think you will still see Beckerman down there, no need to give Ruiz and Pappa any room, but the title of the article is should not will.

    • I like this lineup better than any Ive seen. Bradley at DM is where he belongs. Bedoya outside wis where he belongs. Wood starting over an out of shape Jozy. Yedlin and RB is good. Fabian as LM is fine. Lee at AM no Mix is great. No Zardes or Nagbe starting is excellent. This is ABSOLUTELY the best possible lineup and positions for people.

  3. right, let’s hope the “premiere” of castillo by
    selection in previous chances he was very ill
    and did not think the ownership in the club
    does not mean anything in this case

  4. castillo is very bad, I do not resign myself to
    their call. the worst is that there are no other
    options in midfield the problem is the
    insistence with beckerman that offers
    nothing for the future of the team and
    Wondolowski unconvincing

    • Antonny if this was the WC tonight I would tend to agree with you, but its semi final round of qualifying. All that matters is to get out of the group with 2nd place or better. As I stated above look back at the last time the US played a qualifier in Guatemala, half the roster never made it to Brazil and many of them weren’t even in the running by the end.

      You have essentially two full seasons for new players to emerge and develop and for those players injured to return to form. At this point in 2004 Clint Dempsey wasn’t even a thought for the Nats and he scored a goal in 2006 WC. At this point in qualifying for Korea/Japan Donovan hadn’t joined the team and he scored 2 goals in 2002. In 2012 if you would have said Besler, Gonzalez, and Brooks were going to be our CBs in Brazil you would have been laughed at.

  5. According to JK, we are back to Castillo or a CB (Alvardo or Orozco) at LB.

    I just can’t take this much longer . . .

    • Its not like there are a lot of options out there at LB. Over half of the roster that played Guatemala in qualifying for Brazil wound up on the roster for the WC so no need to panic that someone playing now means they are bound for Russia. Ironically, now many people vilify JK for pushing out Boca, and as I read the recaps of those two games, everyone was screaming about how bad Boca had become and that he needed to go.

      • I understand your point, but the notion that Orozco and Alvardo are (after accounting for FJ) the third and fourth best LB options in the player pool comes as a bit of a shock, especially inasmuch as they are both primarily CBs.

      • i do not think that is what was said. he said, in this camp, they are options. which is still ridiculous. but i did not take that comment as a statement on the entire player pool.

      • I don’t think you can look at it that way. The manager has to take the best available LB which JK seems to think is Castillo, and then Ororzco and Alvarado aren’t necessarily the best options at LB but because they can play multiple positions they are the best options for 2 games in 5 days.

        Villafana has played a lot of minutes already this season after essentially two weeks off after the entire MLS season, it makes sense to leave him off at this point so that he might have some legs left this Summer. Ream seems to have fallen out of favor at Fulham, or has some sort of nagging injury preventing him from playing as much. So the next option is probably Beasley who I was actually a little surprised didn’t get called in.

      • the only thing about this roster that i have a real problem with is bringing in Alvarado over a Tim Ream, who happens to play LB for club and country and was with the team for the last set of qualifiers. I believe he hit a rough patch for a few weeks with his team where he didnt play but he played in Fulhams last 2 matches. Ive never seen a coach so infatuate with particular player sthe way that JK has, and i’m not saying that Ventura wont eventually come good but right now he’s just not playing(neither is Orozco) and it seems at least 1 roster spot was wasted.

      • I don’t disagree that Alvarado is a head scratcher, but I think there probably is more to the Ream not being there, most likely a small knock or just overall fatigue. JK seems to be in pretty regular contact with the players and their clubs. Is Alvarado good enough to play against Guatemala, I think most would say yes, then its not a wasted call up. If this was Costa Rica, Mexico, or Germany you’d be very right. Only 14 out of the 26 players can play on any given night anyway and different players could be flown in for next weeks contest.

        Finally, Ricardo Clark, Jonathon Bornstein, David Regis, all guys that quickly come to mind that received frequent call ups for little apparent reason. It happens, I am sure fans of any country could name at least one guy on their current rosters they don’t think should ever be there too.

  6. One comment in this article stood out to me: “Yedlin further up the field because of his speed and creativity.” I would have to disagree with this. For me, Yedlin is used further up the field for his speed and his willingness to put in crosses. From what I have seen he lacks creativity and he either tries to speed past someone to put in a cross or he passes back. I have rarely seen him do something creative. When he does cross they seem to whipped in hoping to find someone rather than picking players out. I think being creative is probably one of his weak points

  7. ———–Dempsey————Wood————-






    No experimentation in the backline!!!!

    later if need be

    Nyugen out Castillo in
    Bedoya out Nagbe in
    Bradley out Beckerman in

    Castillo is playing 90 for the best team in Mexico and likes to counter so the left wing will work, Zardes can play in the right and Bedoya has shown at Nantes that he can score in the CAM position.

  8. I think Ives line up over on Goal is more likely, this more of a who will, not who should though


    I know people will balk about Beckerman and Bradley in these positions.
    1. Beckerman’s experience will help to deal with Ruiz and Pappa and as slow as Kyle may be he is faster than those two.
    2. With Guatemala likely bunkering in Bradley will end up that high most of the night anyway, even if its not his position.
    3. Also, this lineup allows Bedoya to slip further inside as Yedlin pushes up the outside, putting both in their best offensive spaces.
    4. If you need a goal slide in Nagbe or Nguyen for Beckerman and slide Bradley back, or add Wondo for Becks and slide Dempsey to the middle.

    • Based on past experience I feel pretty certain these are the players and position that we will see. When we play in Columbus we will probably see some tweaks. While it would be nice to get a win in Guatemala, it is incredibly vital that we get at least a draw. Remember all we need to get to the hex is 2nd place and then you start all over. Klinsmann thinks long term and qualification is of the utmost importance, so I think he will play it conservatively in Guatemala with Beckerman and Bradley as defensive mids. Even so, with Dempsey and Wood we should have opportunities to score.

    • This is the lineup that makes the most sense. Given that, I doubt Klinsmann will employ it. Expect at least one surprise lineup position.

  9. So what’s the over/under on players that Klinsmann will play out of position? 3?

    Right now that lineup has 2: Yedlin at RW when he should be RB and Zardes at LW when he should be a forward. But oh there are so many possibilities! Why Klinsy can’t play people at the position they play all season with their club is mindboggling.

    • Zardes has played wing for LA in all five of their matches this season including last weekend when he recorded a brace. Every time Zardes plays forward for the Nats you get half the people saying he can’t play forward why isn’t he at the wing. And although most of us would agree Yedlin is better suited for RB he certainly has deficiencies at that spot too. Do you want a winger that has offensive limits or a back who gets caught ball watching and wrong footed?

      Its not like he has Brek Shea at LB I mean he’s a forward, or a winger, oh what he is a LB, I guess people can change positions over time. .

    • How long have you been watching soccer? I have been doing so extensively for over 30 years even when I lived as a child in Europe. I hate to break it to you, but players are often played “out of position” as you call it. A manager’s job is not to play a player in the position he regularly plays for his club, but play them in positions that would make the best team. Many times, that is not the positions they play for their clubs.

  10. I hope the next squad will be stronger than this.
    GK Guzan, Howard, Horvath
    RB Yedlin, Chandler
    LB Vincent
    CB Brooks, Besler, Miazga, Cameron
    DM Kitchen, Polster
    CM Bradley, Nagbe, Diskerud
    RM/W Zardes, Kiesewetter, Bedoya
    LM/W Lletget, Johnson
    F Altidore, Wood, Morris

    • Kitchen just moves abroad so he won’t be with the senior team for the forseeable future and there is absolutely no way Polster will be on the senior team due to his lack of familiarity with the senior team and inexperience. There are more seasoned, proven CM’s ahead of him and Kitchen such as Nagbe, Danny Williams, Mix, Bradley, etc. I’d even venture to say that Trapp, Alashe, Hydman and maybe Gedion Z

  11. This squad is very poor, castillo isn’t a good player.
    my line up:
    GK Guzan
    RB Yedlin
    CB Cameron
    CB Besler
    LB Brooks
    DM Bradley
    DM Nagbe
    RM Bedoya
    LM Zardes
    RF Wood
    LF Dempsey

      • yes, castillo is terrible, orozco and alvarado never played In this position, Johnson maybe can’t play

      • so it’s ok for JAB to play LB despite never doing so but not Orozco or Alvarado? at least those guys have played fullback before…

        doesn’t matter. JAB will never and should never play LB. we’ll go with the guy who actually plays LB…Castillo.

      • DLOA I was going to let it go, but I’ll step in here and help you out. Antonny, Alvarado and Orozco actually have played there from time to time with their clubs, and Brooks does not. When was the last time you actually saw Castillo play?

      • LB and RBs are like guards in American football its hard to win without them, but people usually only notice when they mess up.

    • I haven’t seen Castillo play recently but he has been terrible in prior USMNT appearances. Since there appear to be no other options because JK saw fit to ignore Villafana then I don’t have a problem with Castillo getting another chance. Brooks at LB sounds like a parody of a sterotypical JK move.

      • Brooks played in this position a few times,
        but for some time he does not play it. It is
        an attempt

    • Antonny,

      Brooks has never played LB and you want to out him there? Are you serious????

      Castillo has his flaws, but is good enough to be the day in day out starter for the number 1 team in Liga MX. Odds are the wings and strikers he will face today will not be as good as those he regularly faces at Liga MX. USMNT is really hurt by injuries at left back.

  12. For me, I would consider bring FJ on as a reserve if needed. Something like:
    Dempsey & Wood
    Zardes, Bradley Nagbe(or Mix) Bedoya
    Castillo, Brooks, Cameron, Yedlin

    Zardes doesn’t thrill me, but he does track back pretty well. But I agree with Slow, no reason to start Yedlin at RMid. If you want to use him there late in a game as a sub, maybe. But his technical skill really limits his effectiveness. Especially against a team that will sit back, with numbers behind the ball.

    If I am Toronto, I am throwing a fit if Jozy gets on the field. I know they have to release him, but it appears to be really irresponsible for JK to play him, if he hasn’t even played for Toronto yet.

    • He played over the weekend for TFC, came on in the second half 15 minutes approximately. This belief that some of you have that JK and staff aren’t in contact with the clubs and don’t know exactly what they are getting is naive.

      • I wasnt saying he didnt speak withthe club. I was saying, if he plays him despite the injury concerns of the club it would be a slap in the face. Obviosly they ARE concerned or he would be starting. You may be the naive one, thinking you can read minds by simply looking at a few lines on a message board. No big deal, i just think you assumed a few things. Enjoy the game.

    • I don’t see us going with two big CBs especially against Guatemala, who don’t have a lot of tall players to mark.

      • we’ll know soon enough. JAB is mobile enough to make it work. plus, on our own set pieces, having Cameron, JAB, and Omar out there would give them serious problems.

    • There is no reason two right footer and two left footers can’t be paired together at CB. I’ve never heard anyone besides JK emphasize this that much.

      • Plenty of coaches look for a left footed lcb and right footed rcb. If the coach stresses playing out of the back then it’s actually way more important to have than it may seem. Do you not think a left winger needs to have a strong left foot? Same logic applies to other positions.

      • Your right Slow in that it didn’t use to be seen as important, but as DLOA points out it has become much more common as teams play out of the back instead of lofting it forward. And probably at lower or local levels its a luxury that just wouldn’t exist.

      • Sure, it’s nice to have a right footer and left footer back there but if the two best CBs favor the same foot they should play. It’s not nearly as important as a wide player because center backs aren’t putting in crosses etc.

      • Imagine you’re a left footed played playing RCB. You make a tackle at the top of the 18 and look to your RB but he is marked well. So you then Want to swing the ball around to the left side, it’s much harder to try to open your hips enough to play the ball with your left rather than simply playing a right footed pass to the left. This is why it’s highly preferred to have Lcbs and rcbs respectively footed…

        . You say many things that make you sound like you’ve never played or watches soccer in your life. Perhaps that is incorrect but it’s only implied from you non sensical statements lol

      • It;’s philosophical. I have played for coaches who emphasize that as well as there are clearly some coaches at the top flight who emphasize it. Again, it’s philosophical. I am right footed, but preferred playing on the left (and thought I was better on the left as well). I played for coaches who played me on the left and some who would only play me on the right.

  13. Not a terrible lineup but Yedlin should play at RB or not at all. He doesn’t add enough in midfield. Then Cameron can play in the middle with Brooks or Besler.

    • Completely agree my man, then insert someone like mix or nagbe (if healthy) in there, I’m not sure we need a pure dm like beckerman shielding in this game, I would like a rubber band tandem of bradley and mix in there, usually work pretty well together

      • Agreed. However, I’d like to see Cameron slide into the DM role. With Yedling and potentially Johnson as outside backs I can see us playing a system similar to Spurs this year. Dier sits just in front of the CBs allowing the outside backs to bomb forward, add width, and service. People were really worried Spurs were going to be overly defensive with by putting a natural center back in as DM but it’s been the exact opposite as it allows everyone else on the field freedom to play more attacking.

    • Totally agree. The Yedlin/Zardes combo on the wings has been PROVEN ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS to be a bad idea. Yedlin should start as right back or be used as a substitute. Play Bedoya at RW and put Nguyen, Mix or Beckerman in the middle with Bradley. I wish Zardes wouldn’t start but with Fabian injured it seems likely.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Yedlin is good at running into space as it opens in front of him. However his off the ball movement and timed runs aren’t good enough to create space for himself. Really neutralizing his speed at right wing. Not really his fault, though as it’s not a position he works at week in and out.

      Zardes as well, for club and country needs to play striker or be on the bench. The striker that had some people excited has been pulled down by the midfielder that’s been pretty average, even for MLS.

    • The problem is Brooks and Besler play the same position and neither has been used as a RCB. If I was the coach, I would start Besler in Guatemala and Brooks in USA soil. Germans don’t do well in heat and humidity.


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