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SBI Question of the Day: Which USMNT forward should sit vs. T&T?

The U.S. Men’s National Team embarks on a difficult two-game stretch in four days starting on Thursday night against Trinidad and Tobago at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

USMNT manager Bruce Arena has a few important decisions to make involving his starting XI due to the quick turnaround at altitude.

The forward position presents Arena with an interesting decision, as Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood are all capable of getting the job done up top, but at least one of the trio will need to be fresh for Sunday’s trip to the Estadio Azteca.

Each brings something unique to the table. Dempsey is one goal short of the all-time record and brings a level of creativity unmatched by the other two. Altidore boasts an overwheling physical presence as well as a knack for punishing T&T. Wood, finally, brings speed and the ability to break a defense with one simple run.

Taking everything into account over the next four days, we want to know which forward you would rest on Thursday night to have fresh for the trip to Mexico City on Sunday.

Vote in the poll below and state your reasoning in the comment section:

[polldaddy poll=9763810]



  1. IMO you start Jozy & Wood against T&T. Let Wood be the pest who’ll pressure T&T keeping them in their own half or booting the ball. Both can play absorb the physical pounding that lower quality CONCACAF teams often resort to. Around the 60th minute Sub in Dempsey for Wood so he can get the Scoring record…and Wood will be fresh for Mexico.
    Against Mexico Start Dempsey & Wood. Dempsey knows how to play in that environment, and will help clog the Midfield. Wood gives you that fast brake/counter attack speed that could provide the difference.

    • I tend to agree with this. T&T will be bunkering for this game, and Wood may be able to push a defensive blunder when T&T do have the ball that could break things open.

      We absolutely have to have Dempsey on the field for Mexico.

      Jozy fits in there as well, he’s playing some of his best soccer right now and is on a roll.

  2. Start Altidore and Dempsey against T&T in a 4-1-3-2 and Wood against Mexico in more of a 4-1-4-1/4-2-3-1. Altidore and Dempsey combine well and Wood plays more of the lone striker for Hamburg. (Altidore has said he prefers a 2nd striker). Wood as a lone striker is faster and better at direct play and counters which is more likely against Mexico where we are unlikely to keep possession.

    • I could also see all 3 playing against T&T with Dempsey as the 10 and Pulisic and FJ on the wings and then whoever is recovered plays against Mexico. T&T is a must 3 points. Points at Azteca are unexpected and would only be a bonus.

  3. Against Mexico (assuming you play with 2 forwards) you play the guy who can best help relieve pressure on the midfield. Mexico has Bradley figured out, they know how to high pressure him, make him go backwards, and that he can’t dribble out of trouble. 1 forward will have to drop off or we’ll see a game of kickball with Mexico dominating possession in the middle of the field.
    Deuce gives you that…
    Of the 3 forwards to choose from, Wood puts in much more work in terms of pressure, hustle, defense etc..
    Deuce and Jozy on the field at the same time is not a good combo..
    Go with Deuce and Wood vs Mexico

  4. I think a lot of people are saying play XX, don’t play YY based on how good they’re rated. We need to play the best players against a bunkered in T&T. Breakaway speed and one on one is wasted here. I think Altidore for his mucking skills and Dempsey for his BS, I mean his ability to pull shots out of his ass.

  5. We rest no one for Mexico. Arena has already stated this. We play our strongest possible team against T&T. Three points in this game are incredibly crucial. Our chances of finishing top 3 drop dramatically if we don’t get 3 points out of this game. We never/rarely come out of Azteca with points so it is important to put everything into T&T. We put in all on the field for T&T, no ifs ands or buts.

    Therefore, you sit Altidore and have him come off the bench at half if things have not looked

  6. If going with two forwards start Altidore and Wood. Altidore’s hold up play should help open up space for the three midfielders and also the channels for RB and LB.
    Dempsey can come off the bench but his current form with these midfielders is not that great. Going with nostalgia play Dempsey against T@T and hope he puts the record to rest. Against Mexico definitely Wood and Altidore!

  7. For T&T I would actually start Altidore with Pulisic as the second striker, where I think his quickness will give T&T trouble. Then, against Mexico I would Play Wood and Dempsey and allow Pulisic to play on the wing away from the chaos of the central midfield. I think Wood is the choice if fit, but Jozy might be in better form right now, and he plays well against T&T. At this point, I think it is almost as important to decide where Pulisic should play, and build the attack around that.

  8. Can someone explain why the thinking is that a fit professional athlete wouldn’t be fresh after playing a game? Sub a dude out after 60 minutes if you have to… ridiculous. Start all three and go for it.

    • that was my initial reaction as well, but:
      – jozy and bobby aren’t fully fit yet (i think)
      – dempsey’s slowing down
      – extensive travel between games
      – high altitude in 2nd game

      so this situation may call for special consideration.

    • There is some interesting data that says that for a professional/national soccer player, 72 hours after a match there are still measurable fatigue poisons. I seem to remember that this was a neural issue rather than a muscular issue. So, maybe maybe not.

  9. I have no idea how people can think Wood should sit. He’s the best striker we have, and it’s not particularly close. Sit Altidore or Dempsey.

    I can only assume it’s the Bradley “He’s been starting for so long, no need to change” syndrome?

    • Did you watch Wood against Venezuela? First touch was terrible, zero attempts on goal, and he hardly made a good pass. I like his attitude and style of play but his form definitely dipped for Hamburg towards the end of the season. I see him more as a second half sub than a starter against T and T. Wood is better running at defenders and on quick counters. That is not how the game against T and T will go.

    • Or its the Wood has been in bad form recently and isn’t the best option? Wood on form starts. Current Wood? Let him find some form before he takes over for those who have experience in Concacaf.

      • Saw Wood skip past a player down the right wing, pushed it right, ran around the player left. I’ll take an avg form Bundesliga player over Altidore or Dempsey (who was even worse against Ven) all day every day.

      • Based on having eyes. I’m ok with having Altidore start alongside Wood, cuz he scores loads against poor teams. Then put Dempsey and Wood in against Mexico, as Altidore doesn’t do much against better competition.

        Jozy/Wood Game 1
        Dempsey/Wood Game 2


  10. Is Altidore fit and ready to go, is the big question. Regardless, I’m sure of one thing and only one thing:

    I want Dempsey’s attitude on the pitch against Mexico.

    • Yeah I want Dempsey in Azteca too. He will know its his last trip to Azteca and he’ll be hungry. Will be his last chance to score in Azteca. Great players like Demps rise to that sort of opportunity.

    • yep. i’d have bobby and jozy up top together against t&t, and then play one of them (leaning toward bobby, as he’s better than jozy at feeding off scraps) against mexico with dempsey withdrawn to help clog the midfield.


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