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Klinsmann's four (other) possible lineup changes
by Paul Kennedy, June 21st, 2014 1:45AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014

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[BRAZIL 2014] There will be at least one change in the U.S. starting lineup against Portugal on Sunday in Manaus. Jozy Altidore is out, and he'll likely be replaced by Aron Johannsson or Chris Wondolowski. But will there be other changes in the U.S. team from the one that started against Ghana in Natal? Here are four other possible lineup changes.

Six other players are certain to start:

-- Tim Howard
in goal;
-- Fabian Johnson right back;
-- Geoff Cameron at center back
-- Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley in midfield; and
-- Clint Dempsey
(mask or no mask) up front.

The case for change is based not the performance of the other starters in Monday's match. The only starter who had a subpar game -- for him -- Monday night was Bradley, but he remains the most indispensable field player in the U.S. lineup.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff will have to weigh the physical toll Monday's game took on his players and consider how many fresh players to insert into the lineup for Sunday's match, which will be played in much more difficult conditions, the heat and humidity of Manaus,  dubbed "inhuman" by  Italy coach Cesare Prandelli after the Azzurri's win over England, and against an vulnerable opponent, Portugal.

The evidence so far is that European teams similar in the makeup of the USA -- Italy, England, Switzerland and even the Netherlands -- lacked the freshness in their second matches they showed in their opening games. (The exception was France, whose coach Didier Deschamps had no reason to change a winning team after the Bleus buried Honduras, but he made two lineup changes against Switzerland, and both new starters, Olivier Giroud and Moussa Sissoko, scored in the 5-2 win.)

Here are the four other possible changes:

1. LEFT CENTER BACK. Klinsmann said Matt Besler would be ready to go against Portugal even though he had to leave the Ghana at the half with tightness in his hamstring. But his late-game heroics aside, John Brooks showed a physical presence at the defensive end that makes him a potential starter in the U.S. back four for many years to come. The history of the World Cup is filled with stories of players who have come out of nowhere before or at the start of the tournament to earn places in the starting lineup and blossom.

2. LEFT BACK. Playing in his U.S. record fourth World Cup, DaMarcus Beasley passed his first test at left back with flying colors. Ghana attacked him down its right wing with Christian Atsu, who was totally ineffective. But how heavy are Beasley's legs for the bigger challenge ahead: Portuguese winger Nani. If the Turkey friendly was a warmup for Portugal, that means Klinsmann will start Timmy Chandler, but the soon-to-be Eintracht Frankfurt defender struggled mightily in the last 20 minutes against the Turks in New Jersey. How he'll handle the Amazonian conditions of Manaus is a big, big question mark.

3. HOLDING MIDFIELD. Like so many teams have done with success at the World Cup, the USA in effect had a five-man backline against Ghana with Kyle Beckerman as cover in front of the back four. He had an excellent game, breaking up just about everything that came at him but also calmly getting the USA out of pressure with his simple but accurate passing. Like Beasley, the question is whether Beckerman has the legs to handle the conditions at the Arena da Amazonia. Klinsmann's alternative would be to place Jones back in Beckerman's spot and insert Brad Davis at left wing. Just like he did against Turkey.

4. RIGHT MIDFIELD. Alejandro Bedoya started against Ghana and was the USA's most effective attacker in the first half. After the break, though, he was bothered by a hip pointer and cramps and eventually gave way to Graham Zusi. If you go by whom Klinsmann started against Turkey -- again -- that would mean Zusi will start. Whoever starts on the right side of midfield will have perhaps the key role in the game. For that side of the field is both Portugal's strength in attack -- with Cristiano Ronaldo -- and its weakest on defense -- exposed by Germany.


16 comments
  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 7:10 a.m.
    I really don't understand the obsession of many with Chandler. The guy is a horrible defender and has played poorly in every game for the US, yet many still continue to think he should start.

  1. Mark Konty
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 7:25 a.m.
    Beckerman was the only US player to complete the "beep test", I guarantee you he does not have "heavy legs."

  1. Andy Wagner
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 7:30 a.m.
    What does it matter! The entire bunch is not up to the tournament. We are a weak bunch. Alexie Lalas stated that a sign of a good team is when you play poorly and can still get the win. However, when you play your best and it is poor, it does not bode well for your next games when you play better talent.

  1. Terry Ellis
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 8:29 a.m.
    Andy--Portugal hasn't shown itself to be invulnerable by any means and many of its threats are questionable, not at peak or out for our game. I think it COULD be an interesting match-up. Too bad we can't call in Donovan!!! Especially since, barring a miracle, Jozy is out for the tournament.

  1. John Polis
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 9:13 a.m.
    Way too much criticism of Timmy Chandler. I doubt if anyone in this forum has seen him play enough times to make a judgment. He's hardly played it all for the US national team. He isn't any worse of a player then John Anthony Brooks, who also had a bad outing his first time out for the US team. Chill out and give the guy a chance.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 9:22 a.m.
    There is no reason to yank Beasley out of the lineup. Ever since he came in for the Nigeria game the defense has looked pretty good. He's smart and knows when to push and when to stay back. He's faster than Chandler so he can make up for any positional mistakes with his speed. Don't fix what ain't broken.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 10:09 a.m.
    If we go with a 4-4-2 diamond I think wondo starts, if it's a 4-3-2-1 johannson starts. Tactically klinsmann may want cover for the 1v1 for nani and ronaldo, but klinsmann usually wants to dictate games not be reactive. I think the lineups will stay the same but tired legs can and will show in the heat. Go USA!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 10:39 a.m.
    Is Portugal more fit than we are? And, if I'm not mistaken won't they be without a couple of starters as well as Christano being a little dinged up? Except for injury don't change anything. The guys will have had 5 days between games.I think they should be recovered by game day.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 11:27 a.m.
    John Polis: Chandler has 13 caps for the US, and I've seen every one of those games. 13 is enough to draw conclusions. I never saw him play in the Bundesliga, but that's irrelevant.

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 11:41 a.m.
    Throw Jermaine Jones up top in place for Alitdore. If the key to our sytem was a big check player up top that could keep the defense in check then Jones could be that player. He was a forward. Unles we have no replacement for him back with Beckerman...

  1. Ginger Peeler
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 1:01 p.m.
    Even though the players said they were ready for the weather conditions of Brazil, they obviously struggled with the heat and humidity. Unfortunately, Manaus is going to be worse; part of the answer is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I know pro football (as opposed to soccer) players sometime hydrate with injected fluids at halftime when cramping is an issue. Is this done in soccer? Does FIFA accept that as a treatment? The major problem is the humidity/dew point where the air feels as if it so thick, you could cut it with a knife. The worst I've ever experienced such was in Louisiana, but it's also common in Mississippi and Arkansas that I personally know of. I've lived in Florida, and it may replicate those conditions inland, but by the coast the ocean breeze negates some of that heavy air feeling. I hope our boys are feeling great and will play well under the upcoming difficult conditions. Go USA!!! Hang in there, Clint!

  1. Thomas Brannan
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 1:05 p.m.
    Question for Mark Konty: When and where did you see or hear of Beckerman completing the Beep Test? I thought the practices were closed to the public? I am not trying to pry into any personal conversations but I guess I am just looking for a source as to what takes place inside the USA camp. I was under the impression that practices were closed to the public?

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.
    Throwdown by David M. regarding the obsession with Chandler! I second your sentiments, and would like to remind everyone, that even early in his US matches he has looked suspect. He got burned right in front of me on the Turkey attack that lead to the PK! Like he was standing still and looking to get out of the county when he peeled off before the shot! Who does that ever? Reality check for Andy: Two teams on the field trying to impose their will on the other! You never get everything you plan for, and its the side that is fluid in adjusting that usually creates more positive chances. If you predict outcomes by perceived talent, why play the games? Why is Spain out then?

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.
    Hey folks, that was then and this is now... GO TEAM USA!!!

  1. Ginger Peeler
    commented on: June 21, 2014 at 6:01 p.m.
    Andy, are you watching the same games we are? Germany, who beat Portugal 4 to 0 just managed to tie Ghana 2 to 2, while we beat Ghana 2 to 1. You say we are "not up to the tournament" "a weak bunch". I think not!

  1. Charles Stamos
    commented on: June 22, 2014 at 12:36 p.m.
    Lots of food for thought in your comments/suggestions. I don't think JK strays far from the previous WC l/u. Someone for Altidore up front, use the subs to replace inorder - injured players, tired players, midfielders. JJones for Altidore would be a dramatic change. It puts him in the role that Costa and Balotelli serve, a big tough player willing to take some chances; but I don't think we'll see that. More likely an additional midfielder like Zusi and play lots of defense and counterattack. Good luck USA.


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