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Three U.S. lineup questions
by Paul Kennedy, September 4th, 2013 11:55PM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[HEXAGONAL COUNTDOWN] Not for first time in the Hexagonal, Jurgen Klinsmann will have to shake up his starting lineup. For the first Costa Rica match, he made five changes from the team that had lost to Honduras, 2-1, three of them changes that were forced on him because of injuries. For Friday's game at San Jose's Estadio Nacional, he'll probably have to make two injury-related changes from his preferred lineup during the Hexagonal in addition to dealing with a most welcome dilemma: if and where to start Landon Donovan.

RIGHT BACK. For the now infamous Snow Bowl match against Costa Rica in Colorado, Klinsmann had to change keepers -- Brad Guzan in place of Tim Howard, out with a back injury -- and replace both of his outside backs.

Geoff Cameron had started the Honduras game in the middle of the backline but played both of the March qualifiers at right back after Timmy Chandler pulled out at the last minute with a hamstring injury. He's only played there once since then -- in the 4-2 loss to Belgium in late May -- but is likely to replace the injured Brad Evans, out with a calf injury suffered in MLS play over the weekend.

Klinsmann has used Cameroon successfully as a center back and holding midfielder but he would seem to be the likely choice ahead of Michael Parkhurst, who started at tight back during the Gold Cup.

Neither Cameron nor Parkhurst is the attacking threat that Chandler, the injured Steve Cherundolo or even Evans is. But between the two, Chandler would get the edge because he is starting at right back for Stoke City. Parkhurst has yet to suit up this season for German club Augsburg.

Klinsmann started DaMarcus Beasley at left back for the first time in the two March qualifiers, and he has stayed there ever since in qualifying except for the Honduras return match for which he was suspended. Klinsmann has expressed satisfaction with the play of Beasley, his captain at the Gold Cup, and Fabian Johnson at left midfield, so for once the USA looks settled on the left side.

STRIKER. Jozy Altidore, who missed Sunderland's game on Saturday with a hamstring injury, accompanied the USA to Costa Rica and was declared fit to work out. In the public training session on Wednesday at the Dos Pinos dairy complex, Altidore did work out on Wednesday, but he was seen wearing running shoes as he jogged.

If Altidore is not ready to go, that leaves Klinsmann with basically two choices: Eddie Johnson and Aron Johannsson. Both have been playing very well the last month, though the likely choice would be Johnson, who has scored in four of the last six U.S. matches, over Johannsson, who has never played in Central America, let alone in the Hexagonal.

The only other possibility would be to to move Clint Dempsey up top and start Donovan in Dempsey's spot -- the spot Klinsmann used him at during the Gold Cup when he scored five goals and added seven assists.

If Klinsmann wants to use Donovan in the counterattacking role he excels at, this would be a way in which to get Donovan into the starting lineup.

RIGHT MIDFIELD. The only other possibility would be for Klinsmann to start Donovan at right midfield, where Graham Zusi has started in four of the last five qualifiers, all but the Panama match in Seattle for which he was suspended.

Zusi was injured during the MLS All-Star Game on July 31 and only returned to the Sporting Kansas City lineup two games ago. A week ago, Klinsmann seemed to downplay concerns about Zusi's sharpness when he spoke with the media after he announced his roster for the Costa Rica match, saying he expected Zusi -- and Dempsey -- to be ready to go.

Zusi responded with the winning goal Saturday for Sporting KC in its 2-1 win over Colorado, confirming that it will take a lot to keep him out of the U.S. starting lineup -- even if he has one Landon Donovan on his tail.



5 comments
  1. Cory Leonard
    commented on: September 5, 2013 at 7:34 a.m.
    I really don't see there being questions at right back. It's gotta be Geoff Cameron. It's his natural position, period. He plays it week in and week out in England. Hell I have him on my fantasy team because he's a solid defender and I got him fairly cheap. I'd be more concerned about our red card waiting to happen that's most likely gonna line up next to Bradley. I'd MUCH rather see Mix than JJ, esp the way he played at the Gold Cup. And as much as I love EJ, if he gets the start and looks sluggish in the first half, I'd throw Johansson on for the second. The kid is on top form right now for his team and he looked seriously dangerous against BH for the little bit he got to play. Just my .02

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: September 5, 2013 at 10:20 a.m.
    Zusi "over" Donovan? You can't be serious. There must be a way for both of them to be in the starting 11. If not, Donovan hands down should be your first choice.

  1. Doug Broadie
    commented on: September 5, 2013 at 11:26 a.m.
    I too believe that Mix should be starting over JJ. Donovan has played left mid also and Fabian could start at left back. I think having Donovan playing behind Clint and Eddie up front playing a diamond 4-4-2 would be interesting. Maybe not on the road, but would be interesting. I still believe that the US's best formation is playing a 4-4-2 as two forwards always create more pressure. It's more in tune to the US mentality. Attack Attack Attack!!!!!

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: September 5, 2013 at 12:46 p.m.
    I don't understand why Klinsmann does not bring in Timmy Chandler at right back. So he did't get a lot of minutes at FC Nurnberg. So what. He is still the best choice at right back!

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: September 5, 2013 at 3:29 p.m.
    Jozy will start. He will be paired with EJ. From left to right mid Dempsey, Bradley/Donovan, Zusi, backline left to right Fabian, Besler, Gonzo, Cameron. Howard, although I have no problem with Guzan. Agree Doug, we should get away from the Defensive midfielder mentality. If Jozy can't go, its Fabian to LM, Beasley LB, with Dempsey up top. We have to keep Donovan and Bradley central. Zusi is a no brainer because of his flank service. Love the idea of three targets for right side crosses with Dempsey at LM, and Jozy/EJ up top.


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