Klinsmann's three big lineup question marks

[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] Jurgen Klinsmann answered a lot of questions when he named his 30-player short list, but who will get the 23 tickets for Brazil and who will earn the 11 starting jobs for the World Cup opener June 16 against Ghana remains very much up in the air. Identifying the positions for three players will go a long way toward figuring out what Klinsmann has up his sleeve for the World Cup.

Where does he play Fabian Johnson? The German-American defender, headed to Borussia Moenchengladbach from Hoffenheim next season, may be the USA's best player at left midfield, left back and right back. Where Klinsmann plays him will go a long way toward solving a lot of the mysteries about the U.S. lineup. U.S. Soccer lists him as a defender, but the USA probably played best in the Hexagonal when Johnson was starting at left mid. Right back is perhaps the biggest question mark in the national team lineup, but it's hard to believe Klinsmann plans on using Johnson at right back when he is also bringing four other starters at right back during qualifying, plus DeAndre Yedlin, into camp.

Where does he play Geoff Cameron? One of those right backs is Cameron, who plays there for Stoke City, but he's looked more comfortable at holding mid or central defender for the USA. He's unlikely to take Jermaine Jones' job at holding mid so that leaves central defender -- a major problem area in the last two friendlies -- as Cameron's likely position -- if he is to start.

Where does he play Landon Donovan? Klinsmann answered this one in passing when he said Eddie Johnson wasn't going to beat out the other six forwards in camp. Klinsmann said he only considers Donovan a forward, and not a midfielder. More relevant to Donovan's case than the "where" question is the "if" question. If he plays, whose spot does he take? It's hard to imagine Donovan replacing Clint Dempsey, Klinsmann's captain and the USA's hottest MLS player, or Jozy Altidore, so that leaves the very real question, what role Donovan will play in Brazil.

16 comments about "Klinsmann's three big lineup question marks".
  1. VDS Trading, May 13, 2014 at 7:26 a.m.

    This is a big-time group of death, so there should be no messing around here. No matter who plays in the back (hopefully Fabian on the left and Cameron as 1 of the 2 center backs along with Gonzalez), we are going to give up some goals. Therefore, the front needs to have as much firepower as possible. Bradley and Jones will clearly be the holding mids and the conduits to the front 4...which needs to be as follows for the first game: Dempsey in the middle with Donovan and Zusi flanking him. Altidore as targeted forward up front. If we go down, we go down with our best and most experienced. After Game 1, depending on form, we adjust from there.

  2. Chris Connelly, May 13, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.

    Our biggest problem is definitely the back line. It's going to take pretty much a perfect performance from the center backs in every game, and in watching the build-up to a fair amount of the goals allowed in the past year or so Omar takes at least a portion of the blame for switching off mentally for a moment. I had hoped to see a progression in his development, but don't feel it has been there. That being said, i don't see him losing his starting spot as he has quickness over Cameron & Goodson, and size over Besler and Parkhurst, leaving Edu as the only comparable player that hasn't had the time in center back, so Omar it is.

  3. Daniel Clifton, May 13, 2014 at 8:50 a.m.

    I think Besler has played the best at Center Back. He is a lock to start. The best match with him appears to be Omar. However, as pointed out Omar has his weak moments mentally, whether it is ball watching, or a failure to anticipate, he has made mistakes leading to goals for the other team. I don't understand why Klinsmann is saying Donovan is only a forward. I believe Donovan's best use is coming off the bench, but not just as a forward. Fabian Johnson has played his best at Left Midfield.

  4. Eric Schmitt, May 13, 2014 at 9:28 a.m.

    I still think Donovan will end up in midfield, even if JK says he sees him right now as a forward. The trouble is, there's a chain reaction for the starting XI depending on where you put him. If he's not at left mid (where he's been since coming back from his break), then the next best guy there is Fabian (certainly better than Davis). If you put Fabian at left mid, though, then that means Beasley at left back for the World Cup and that thought just frightens me. I still think Lando will end up at left mid once all is said and done.

  5. Jake Lammi, May 13, 2014 at 10:03 a.m.

    Start Donovan on the right mid, he is the best option. Zusi doesn't have the pace to keep up with the teams the US faces. Put Fabian at left back and why not Dempsey on the left side of midfield? That's where he flourished during his best days in the prem. I would have a backline of Johnson-Gonzalez-Cameron-Chandler; midfield of Dempsey, Jones, Diskerud, Bradley, Donovan and Johannson as the forward. Let Jones sit and play Bradley higher up the field.

  6. Mark Hardt, May 13, 2014 at 11:36 a.m.

    I am still floored that everyone has given a free pass to Altidore. I follow the premier league on the BBC and don't know how many times I read Altidore missed an easy chance. He has self destructed and should not be entrusted with goal scoring. Johannssen or Boyd are far better picks. Even better the two forwards should be Dempsey and Donovan. DD to the rescue.

  7. Walt Pericciuoli, May 13, 2014 at 11:56 a.m.

    Right now, Klinsi only has to decide on the seven players he won't be taking to Brazil.Tough decisions. I know he will be one of the 23, but when we go to Brazil and Gonzalez is still a starter, we will bleed goals.So, we will need as many scoring threats as possible. That includes Donovan,Dempsey,Johanssson,Boyd and Wondo. Altidore, will be there but I don't think he deserves it based on current form. Is he a scoring threat now?You need Chandler, Beasley and Yedlin for their outside speed on the attack and defending.Cameron and Johnson for their versatility. And you need CB cover,I don't think Goodson will get that assignment, not Edu. Brooks and Green are very young, but Klinsi may take them both for future experience. Bradley,Jones,Bodoya,Besler are locks.Beckerman and Diskerud plus the 3 keepers and you'e got your 23.

  8. Walt Pericciuoli, May 13, 2014 at 11:58 a.m.

    Excuse me, I meant I think Goodson WILL get that assignment, not Edu.

  9. Dan Phillips, May 13, 2014 at 12:28 p.m.

    Whys was not Brek Shea called in? Big mistake!!! He a great game changer in relief.

  10. Scott O'Connor, May 13, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.

    I like Klinsi's selections. Tough to whittle it down to 23. I know Yedlin is probably a cut but I really think his speed could be a huge asset on either side (thinking of someone who could shadow CR7 and stay with him).

  11. Scott O'Connor, May 13, 2014 at 3:59 p.m.

    I agree with many who are down on Jozy. Had the World Cup been last year, perhaps he was ready to shine. What a difference good service and an open league makes. Aron Johansson has cooled off as well. Can't see the hot Terrence Boyd getting the start though. I think Boyd or Johansson will be cut, whoever doesn't show well in camp. Klinsman loves Jozy, so he's gonna be the #9 in Brazil.

  12. Scott O'Connor, May 13, 2014 at 4:03 p.m.

    Landon being considered "forward only" puts Zusi as starting right mid. No controversy or battle for starting spot there. Can't see Dempsey being left out of his usual free-lancing roll just behind Jozy. So that leaves LD not in the 11... Leaves him open to be the "super sub" when we need to inject some pace and experience in the 2nd half.

  13. cisco martinez, May 13, 2014 at 6:06 p.m.

    Klinsmanns formation are pretty consistent with a 4-2-3-1, although he recently used a diamond 4-4-2. I think most of his selection will consist of a backbone of Howard, Besler, Gonzalez, Bradley, Jones, Altidore, and Dempsey. All other positions are up for grabs.

  14. Daniel Clifton, May 13, 2014 at 11:41 p.m.

    I think with the teams the US is going to be meeting in group play he needs right backs with speed, thus Chandler and Yedlin making the final 30. I think both of them may make the final cut.

  15. ckg beautiful game, May 14, 2014 at 5:11 a.m.

    Jermain Jones has been poor for some time and is red card waiting to happen. Benny Feilhaber most skilled midfielder other than Bradley doesn't make team?
    Cameron to holding mid, Chandler and Fabian Johnson outside backs, Beasley/Donovan left mid
    Our center backs are a nightmare and will be exposed and exploited at will by each of our opponents. Tim Howard will have to be superman

  16. beautiful game, May 14, 2014 at 8:51 a.m.

    Dan P., if Shea is such a "GREAT" game changer, why is he not playing in England...u must be watching too many MLS games where "GREAT" is being thrown around by the commentators, especially Brian Dunseth who sees more "GREATY" players at each contest. IMHO, Shea has a mediocre soccer IQ and does not play instinctively;his consistency and efficacy are marginal.

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