Figuring out the USMNT midfield ahead of Tuesday’s showdown vs. Jamaica

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There was a time not too long ago when the U.S. national team enjoyed a wealth of midfield options and a lack of forwards. As the team heads into Tuesday's must-win World Cup qualifier, the Americans are faced with the opposite problem.

Injuries to Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan have exposed a lack of midfield depth and left Jurgen Klinsmann's team lacking attacking punch and stability. He is now forced to consider a variety of midfield options from a group of players who all, save for Clint Dempsey, have failed to taken hold of opportunities to establish themselves as indipensible or even reliable.

The biggest issue facing the American midfield now is how to generate enough possession and chances to feed a stable of forwards that is capable of finishing them off if they ever receive service. Dempsey isn't a pure playmaker, and is also working his way into full sharpness. Without Donovan, and with some other options not battle-tested, Klinsmann could struggle to find a combination that jump-starts the U.S. attack.

Brek Shea's inclusion in the starting lineup feels like a foregone conclusion. His recent efforts off the bench have been encouraging, and he provides a speed element and wing threat that no other player on the roster provides.

Aside from Shea, the options for Klinsmann are limited. Let's take a look at some midfield/forward variations we could see on Tuesday:

The 4-1-3-2

——–Altidore———Gomez————–

Shea————-Torres————-Dempsey

——————-Jones———————–

No, Torres is not a classic playmaker, but Klinsmann likes the way he circulates the ball, and playing on a smooth field at Crew Stadium means the U.S. midfield should be able to knock the ball around more crisply, and force Jamaica to chase the game. This quartet can easily drop into a 4-4-2 with Torres sliding deeper if the U.S. takes a lead. Jones hasn't really been asked to play the deep-lying defensive midfield role for the U.S., but he does it for Schalke and does it well. If he's asked to clean things up in front of the defense he can handle that role. So could Edu.

———————

The Skilled 4-3-3

Shea———-Altidore———Gomez

—————Dempsey—————-

——Torres————-Edu———–

This defensive midfield tandem could knock the ball around well, and potentially keep possession. Edu works better playing in a deeper role. When he has been deployed in more advanced roles he has struggled, but he is a skilled passer who can 

The Pit Bull 4-3-3

Shea———-Altidore———Gomez

—————Dempsey—————-

——Jones————-Williams——

If Klinsmann wants a pair of defensive midfielders who are going to swarm Jamaica's dangerous creators and allow Dempsey the freedom to operate, he could go with this German-American tandem. 

The 4-2-3-1

—————–Gomez—————-

Shea———–Dempsey———-Zusi

———Torres———Jones———

You can call this a speed 4-3-3 or a standard 4-2-3-1, but what this group would provide is speed, width and service. Zusi hasn't played in a game of this magnitude for the national team, but he has developed into an outstanding playmaker for Sporting KC and Klinsmann has tried him out on the flank before. It would be harsh to bench Altidore after a game when the midfield gave him no service, but if Klinsmann goes with just one forward he would have an interesting decision to make choosing between Gomez and Altidore. Gomez has been more active and has done well since becoming a regular, but Altidore would provide a better target for the potential service from Shea and Zusi.

Torres would be an interesting player in this system. He would need to do some dirty work in front of the defense, but he does that for Pachuca so it's not exactly a foreign concept.

————

Players that weren't included in this lineups include Kyle Beckerman, who struggled badly on Friday, and Joe Corona, who seems more suited to be a bench option than starter at this point. There is also no Terrence Boyd, who also looks to be more of a second-half option, particularly if Altidore or Gomez are struggling.

You see more Jones in these formations not because he was good against Jamaica on Friday, but because of his experience and tenacity. It will be up to Klinsmann to decide whether he wants a more technical option like Edu or if he can really do without Jones' bite in the middle.

Which lineup do I prefer? I would like to see the 4-1-3-2, though the Skilled 4-3-3 is also an intriguing combination.

What do you think of the current state of the U.S. midfield? Which attacking combination would you go with? Who are you hoping gets a start on Tuesday?

Share your thoughts below.

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102 Responses to Figuring out the USMNT midfield ahead of Tuesday’s showdown vs. Jamaica

  1. somedude says:

    I’d take any of these lineups, as long as Beckerman stays out.

  2. Siberian says:

    I’ll go with your last lineup with both Shea and Zusi. However, I fail to see how inserting Torres changes anything.

  3. Brian says:

    The skilled 4-3-3 and Edu is in the lineup?

  4. mrad23 says:

    No Jones please. I am tired of Jones. I am not sure of Klingy has promised Jones a starting job or what.

  5. Old School says:

    Not buying the Edu “skilled” lineup either, fwiw.

    I think Jones has shown more times than; Edu, Beckerman, Torres or Williams that he’s capable of performing at this level.

    He has down matches but outside Bradley, I don’t see a single midfielder capable of the abilities he has. He can distribute, attack and defend. Whether or not he’s allowed to do all three is up to JK and his role/responsibility, I suppose.

    (I didn’t mention Dempsey/Bradley for obvious reasons)

  6. biff says:

    Nice article. Should do more like this. Would be great to see a second article later today on potential back line-DM combinations for the Jamaica match :-) I lean toward Boca starting, but do have some speed concerns with him and keep thinking of how well Cameron and Edu paired against Mexico (or Cameron as DM and Boca/Edu as CDs?). And, unlike some, I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that Dolo, if healthy, should start over Parkhurst. Also wonder whether Guzan maybe should get the nod after three ugly goals on free kicks in the last two WCQ games. One, I can accept. Two is not good and three has me worried.

    But back to midfield-forward formations. I prefer a single forward option for the USMNT, with first choice a 4-2-3-1 and second choice a 4-3-3, which, in essence, is a single forward formation with two wingers and an attacking midfielder behind the striker. Is also similar to a 4-2-3-1.

    As for options above, I think the “skilled 4-3-3“ with Torres deep central would work. But would rather see Jones as D-Mid instead Edu. If the Pit Bull Version would be used, I would have Zusi or Corona on the right wing instead of Gomez and Gomez or Boyd at the top. Jones and Williams as D-mids has a certain appeal to it. There was one scene late in the Jamaica game when Jones had gotten smacked hard once again and was down, and Williams reached down and patted him and appeared to be telling him to suck it in and get up and go for the equalizer. I thought that was pretty cool of Williams and, indeed, Jones hopped up and was off running.

    My fave above is the 4-2-3-1, which is close to what I posted yesterday, but with Boyd as the lone striker. Although a big fan of Jozy, I think Boyd or Gomez and their nastiness are better options against Jamaica.

  7. biff says:

    Just to add, yesterday German soccer legend Gunter Netzer wrote an article in Bild about the evolution of soccer now focusing more on attacking midfielders to score goals and in some cases not even using a bona fide old-fashioned stricker, such as Spain in Euro 2012. He sees Jogi Low using more attacking mids Gotze, Reus, Schurrle, Ozil, Muller, Podolski, etc. for goals and that this will make it more and more difficult for traditional strikers like Klose and Gomez to succeed.

    Anyway, I bring this up because while many top coaches around the world are beefing up their teams with midfielders skilled in attacking, Klinsmann has wasted time the past year trying to convert defensively skilled players like Edu, Jones, Williams into attackers and wingers rather than bringing in some fresh faces who play attacking and wing positions at the club level to see what they can do

    Here is the Netzer link:

    link to bild.de

  8. M says:

    Lack of Mid Field depth? Really missing Holden. Would love to see Lletget in January camp. He’s one who could be ready by 2014 and has a flair for the game not to mention he has shown to be a good defender with WH .

  9. So you think that just because Spain does it that every team should? No other team in the world has Iniesta and Xavi to run their team. Modeling what you do after them because they have been good at it is just silly. Argentina, specifically, has gone the other way completely.

    Secondly, you just want to start bringing in any old attacking midfielder just because they play in that spot?

    Please be serious.

  10. Ilikefreddyyesadu says:

    Missing Freddy Adu right now. Club form never seems to detract from his ability to improve the attack for US Soccer on any level. He isn’t a full 90 guy but he would help this team off the bench. Creativity? Service? Playmaking? He will provide all. Poor defense and bad fouls? Maybe but don’t we already get that but without the service, play making, and creativity?

  11. biff says:

    Are you saying you want to see Klinsmann try for a few more games to convert Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu into attacking midfielders/playmakers, including tomorrow’s must-win WCQ against Jamaica? Give me a break, man. I am tired of this 14-month experiment. I prefer Jones and Edu to play as defensive midfielders, both of whom can can play the position quite well. I would much rather see Klinsmann bring in some fresh faces who play as midfield attackers/playmakers at the club level, such as Chris Pontius, to see what they can offer.

  12. Scott says:

    I find the phrases, “but he does it for Schalke and does it well” and “but he does that for Pachuca so it’s not exactly a foreign concept” interesting. They could be said about a long list of USMNT players that perform admirably for their club at one position and are used by the US at another. Why not try them at the position that the train and play at every day? Why not use Jones as the classic DM or Torres as the deep lying playmaker? Why always slot Bradley into a defensive mid and then praise his distribution and creativity when he plays in Serie A, or when he plays RM for the USMNT. I have often wondered why we don’t play players in their natural positions and then fill in the holes? You can add to that list, Dempsey. In his club play, and by his own recent admission, he prefers to play outside mid or withdrawn striker. None of those comments spell CAM. Not being critical, as much as curious as to the reasoning.

  13. poo says:

    thats what I was thinking. EDU has the worst touch.

  14. RNG says:

    At his best, Torres circulates the ball well. The concern is that against a physical, aggressive team (like Jamaica), he tends to get pushed off the ball and marginalized. The real question is–can he be physical and aggressive enough himself, or will he simply disappear?

  15. downintexas says:

    Lets see what Guzan can do in DM, the Jamaicans won’t ever prepare for that. If the US wins Klinsmann looks like a mastermind. If they lose Klinsmann won’t really care.

  16. Jidax says:

    Yup Adu would be good, we have great forwards no doubt !! we need a guy or two guy to distribute the ball, the last line up we had had twp many defensive minded Mids ( I know we all agree) they are good but please do not start with these guys, a line up lie these is great if only we are like 2 goals ahead , that’ it !!! we are missing Donovan, Bradley, Adu, Stuart Holden ( if he ever gets back to form.

  17. No. I didn’t say that at all. In fact, I made no mention of JK, JJ or ME. Why would you ask if I had when you could read my post and see that I hadn’t?

  18. James says:

    Ill take the 4-1-3-2 please.
    I really like Klinsmann, but it boggle my mind why he tries to play players out of position. What the hell is Jones doing ANYWHERE near the final third? Please play him in the same club role he excels at.

  19. bizzy says:

    Slightly change what we had against mexico to bring speed into the line-up:

    ———–Boyd———-Altidore———

    —————–Dempsey——————

    —Shea———-Jones——-Williams—–

    –Orozco—Cameron—–Edu—–Johnson—-

    —————Howard———————

    That defense has been battle tested against Mexico, the best team in CONCACAF so it will work against Jamaica. Boca is too slow for a team like Jamaica that relies on speed and quick breaks. Boyd instead of Gomez too. Gomez is a better player but Boyd’s attributes (strength, speed) better suits this game. If we take away the one thing they rely on the game is ours….if we provide “slow spot” for them to exploit, with Beckerman, Boca, Goodson etc, then the game is again up for grabs

  20. wendell gee says:

    We are also missing Stuart Holden now more than ever.

  21. Aquaman says:

    I would go with the Skilled lineup, but instead of Edu, why not put Cameron in there and figure out a partner for Boca in the back (be it Edu, Goodson, Parkhurst, Spector or Orozco-Fiscal). From what I have heard Cameron is doing quite well in the DM position for Stoke, not only breaking up attacks but creating good outlet passes too. If not Cameron, then leave him in the back with Boca and I’d put Williams next to Torres in that same line-up. I know we have only seen a handful of minutes of Williams in the center of the field, but we know he is good defensively from his work out wide. Though he’s not super in the attack as a winger running down the sides, getting by people, and putting in a solid cross, I think he’s shown enough of the short passing offense that is required of a deep midfielder. I know Edu has given a lot to the US team, I just don’t know if I want to give him another shot against this Jamaica team. He disrupts and covers the back line relatively well, but his offensive mentally is a little bit slow to develop sometimes, allowing a speedy team like Jamaica to quickly close him down (which is exactly the same boat Beckerman sits in right now). Overall, I wish Bradley were here. He’d be perfect in that skilled lineup next to Torres, or in place of Torres next to the DM.

  22. bizzy says:

    Thats the truth Biff, especially when the Experiments are just a waste of time….we tried a defense that worked against Mexico, only to change it against a weaker team like Jamaica and lose.
    Secondly why load the team up with DM players when we are trying to score goals? Why can jamaica call up:
    Mattocks (whitecaps)F Cummings (colorado)F
    Johnson (Toronto)F Richards (whitecaps)M
    Watson (houston)M Thomas (montreal)D
    Williams (toronto)D Taylor (houston)D
    Palmer (timbers)D….and defeat us(were any of these guys ever seleceted for an ALLSTAR game??), yet we have players:
    Chris Pontius, Freddy Adu, Benny Feilhaber, Juan Agudelo, Kenny Cooper, Brad Davis George John, Michael Farfan, Chris Wondolowski, Zusi, Demerit, Teal Bunbury, Nguyen, Sal Zizzo…..yet we will continuously load our team with DM players because (1)thats where our foreign depth lies (2)they play for big clubs…then we are all surprised when we lose to inferior teams….like Panama and Jamaica, and can’t score goals.

  23. Rik says:

    This was my exact thought pattern this morning.

    As much as Cameron is an answer at CB, he could be more of an answer at DM. He can win tackles and break things up, but he’s also got a good first touch and some surprising vision. Could be great there.

    Problem is, who comes in at CB? Honestly, in terms of what they bring to DM, I’d rather have Edu fall back and play in D if it means Cameron getting into midfield.

  24. Ty says:

    Lack of depth at midfield? Or just bad management?

  25. TimN says:

    I’m not sure why so many people don’t realize that Jamaica is no pushover. They are a physical, fast team that can finish. I remember watching them play the MNT in Raleigh, NC back in 2006 ahead of the WC, and their speed was what really stood out. While they don’t have as many skilled players as Ghana, I equate them to that style of team, another team with which the MNT has struggled.

    I think Jones definitely needs to be part of the midfield, as he provides that physicality and tenacity that we will need against them. I don’t think Torres would be a good option, as I agree with others here that he can have a tendency to disappear against physical teams. Having said this, I think I prefer the “Pit Bull 4-3-3″ above. Williams and Jones can lock things down in the midfield, allowing Dempsey to create with Shea, Altidore, and Gomez.

  26. Dabol says:

    Here’s a simple solution: Start Shea, Gomez and Zusi. Win.

  27. jb says:

    Actually we were not getting beat by their speed, or by balls over the top last thursday. We were beaten badly in midfield which is how we lost in possession. This led to the fouls outside the box which caused the free kicks that led to their goals. I dont really think our back line and Howard were challenged that much otherwise. The back line performed ok (though Goodson cant play tuesday due to card accumulation). As the article says, the changes need to come in midfield.

  28. Jared says:

    It’s hard to blame it on lack of depth in midfield when he calls in 4 defensive midfielders. The other midfielders are Corona (is he ever going to get on the field for JK?), Shea, Torres (potentially another who could play deep in midfield) and Zusi yet they don’t start. It was a self imposed lack of depth in midfield. He essentially called in 3 wide midfielders (Zusi, Shea and Gatt) then didn’t bother to replace Gatt.

  29. uksubs says:

    Zusi is terribly overrated

  30. iToddyC says:

    second that! He plays hard, but is definitely not national team quality. Hopefully Klinsy realizes this sooner than later. I can’t believe he hasn’t already. DOOP

  31. Steve says:

    ——Altidore—–Boyd——-
    -Shea——–Dempsey—–Zusi—
    ———–Jones—————
    Johnson–Boca—Cameron—Dolo
    ———Howard—————–

  32. Dennis says:

    +1 It was not defense from the run of play. Bu,t it was a slow Beckerman who committed the first free-kick opportunity and it was NOT a tactical foul, just a guy playing against quicker players and getting in late. Edu’s foul might have been tactical, but it was really not a very smart foul. Jones got frustrated by the fouling he was receiving (unusual for him to be receiving rather than dishing out fouls) that were not called. So yes the midfield was troubling and it was the run of play that revealed their weakness.

  33. Tyler says:

    For anyone complaining about Beckerman starting, do not turn around and ask for Zusi to start.

    Just. Stop.

  34. fischy says:

    +1

    Personally, I think Klinsmann should suit up. Maybe nationality rules don’t count for player-coaches…. Then, he might start caring about having midfield that can create chances.

  35. The Imperative Voice says:

    Boyd/ Dempsey
    Shea/ Jones/ Torres/ Williams
    Johnson/ Boca/ Cameron/ Dolo
    Howard

    Personally I think the callups are half-baked and I’d get in Lichaj, Chandler, Beasley, Pontius, and Agudelo. Half the problem to me is Klinsi seems to have confused a Gold Cup unit with a qualifying outfit. Altidore/ Gomez? Beckerman? Parkhurst? Goodson? Spector? etc. I understand we’re coping with injuries but no sense doing so one hand tied behind our back also.

    I’m also a little irked because Klinsi’s ever-changing tactics mean we really can’t even try and slide by based on a drilled “system.” Cause if we picked one of 451, 433, 442, then maybe a second-rate unit who is gelled and knows its roles could still grind out results.

  36. PD says:

    ——————-Altidore————
    ———-Deuce———————–
    Gomez—————————Zusi
    ———————–Torres———
    —————Jones—————–
    –Johnson—Edu—Cameron–Parkhurst–
    ————–Howard—————-

    Zusi Demspey Gomez as AM, Tores and Jones as DM:
    -creates width in attack,
    push forward to be a front three
    or shift back to a 4-2-3-1 with Dempsey
    creates a corridor of Jones and Torres and Dempsey up the middle.

  37. The Imperative Voice says:

    We need a right wing. For that matter, we really need more of an emphasis on wing play.

    Lack of midfield depth is laughable, we lost Donovan plus Bradley and we still have what we do. It’s a misallocation of resources instead, too many DMs rostered, not enough wide players or technical types.

  38. PD says:

    aw crap, sorry about that format:
    ———Altidore——-
    ——Deuce———–
    Gomez————-Zusi
    ——–Torres——–
    ————Jones——-
    Johnson-Edu-Cameron-Park
    ——-Howard———-

  39. WK says:

    Agreed- Cameron is a MF, but desperation at Houston & the Nats have him at CB. Move him back- the size and physicality of JJ, and skill of Torres.

  40. Mig22 says:

    Stout post.

    Coach Bradley’s tactics were often disparaged but he did seem to get the key players on the field in the positions where they were best suited. Maybe that is WHY many folks didn’t like his style because at the time, our players, when played in their best spot, added up to a defense-and-counter team.

    So Klinsman puts a premium on his approach instead of his roster?

    Just a thought.

  41. Craig says:

    I would put Gomez in the midfield and put Robbie Rogers in as forward to replace Torres.

    Also, Chad Marshal would be a great center defender to have.

  42. Vic says:

    Based on these analysis its clear no one really has an idea what line-up Klinnsmann will go with. There’s too many variable.

  43. Skyward says:

    With all due respect to Kyle, he’s not suited to play against a speedy team. I am impressed with his intelligence as of late though, and positioning. Williams is an easy pick over KB

  44. The Imperative Voice says:

    (a) Amen, we may be head and shoulders above of most of CONCACAF, but that still leaves most of us at everyone else’s level. If the tactics, personnel, or effort aren’t quite there — and you toss in the road factor — we still have to earn our results, and may not do so. Every so often we get one of these rude awakenings.

    (b) I’m not a big fan of the 3 dm mentality because often enough the best defense is a good offense. I didn’t see enough fear of god attacking players in the callups and XI.

    (c) I get concerned when we try and match speed with technique. Panama 2011 (helped get Bradley fired), Jamaica 2006 (as you point out). Soccer is a running sport.

    (d) One way of dealing with a fast team is to make sure you have the personnel to run them the other way. Test their fitness rather than going purely defensive.

    (e) Regardless of the formation I think we need more wide play. One thing people seem to be overlooking is that if Altidore, Boyd, Dempsey, whoever are dependent on service then you need wide players who can serve. And in specific response to some of the fanboys grumbling, that’s not something Adu, Kljestan, or Zusi provide. I think we miss Donovan in this context, and I think in his (and Holden’s) absence you need to consider Shea, Agudelo, maybe even Cameron wide. In any case, I believe in putting the fear of god in the opposition on the attack, and not just pure pit bull, so the stalemate machine needs to be leavened with talented attackers.

  45. joel says:

    I would go with a 4-2-3-1….but with these players

    —————–Altidore—————-

    Shea———–Dempsey———-Gomez

    ———Torres———Jones———

  46. beachbum says:

    was with you until the fanboy BS

    wide play is a must. Not Klestjan’s strength, true, but he has other strengths that are missing on this team. That’s why some ‘fanboys’ ask where the hell is he? and where the hell has he been? and why is he excluded when this teram needs a player with exactly his skill set? That’s why the ‘fanboys’ ask the question.

    legit question too.

  47. beachbum says:

    so are you calling out Klinnsman for calling him up?

  48. Brain Guy says:

    If, as many on this list have mentioned, Jamaica’s main strength is speed rather than technical skill, wouldn’t it make sense to play midfielders who can match that speed? And does that make the decisio0n to start Beckerman even more curious? I can see one formidable destroyer-type (Jones), but where’s the speed to keep up with players lijke Rudy Austin?

  49. beachbum says:

    so are you calling out Klinnsman for calling him up? for calling up Beckerman? what’s your point? that the options in this round of callups are missing key ingredients?

  50. beachbum says:

    agree. well said

  51. The Imperative Voice says:

    It’s not fanboy BS, I’m sorry, but the players I named are overrated B or C team types are constantly called for in certain circles but who get in over their head in A team games (might have something to do with no defining qualities…..good but not that great of touch, slow, etc.). Zusi has yet to look like a NTer to me, and Adu and Kljestan have only looked decent in Camp Cupcake or Gold Cup.

    What we’ve needed in many of these Klinsi games is people with speed to get down the line, technique to create space in the final 3rd, and the crossing touch to set up Dempsey, Altidore, and Boyd.

    The set of players offering those qualities is more like Holden (hurt), Donovan (hurt), Shea, Agudelo, Gyau, Beasley, maybe Cameron (played there initially for Houston), Davis, etc.

    I think wing play is a virtue in itself, and I think it’s been a lost NT art in the Klinsi era, which has focused on DMs and interior passing. But I also think keeping chalk on wings’ boots creates middle channels for the CMs to play through. You suddenly don’t have to whack it over the top to find the forwards, because people have to honor the wide players and the field opens up.

  52. Conrad says:

    You had me until “that can finish.” Jamaica scored two fluke goals (and yes, the second was a thing of beauty, but no way does that free kick happen again in my lifetime.

    All the US had to do was absorb the pressure and know that Jamaica COULD NOT finish. then counter. That seemed to be Klinsmann’s plan, but you’ve got Beckermann and Edu and, yes, Dempsey, trying to play confident tika-taka and then losing the ball and being overstretched. Jamaica didn’t threaten AT ALL except on set pieces.

  53. The Imperative Voice says:

    I’ll step in for him and say that 4 DMs on a roster and 3 DMs on a field are massive mis-allocations of resources. If I have Jones and Edu I have a starter and a backup at DM.

    At CAM, you then call in Torres, Corona, and Pontius. Leave Zusi home.

    I’d then leaven the stalemate machine with wing play and call in some mix of Beasley, Gyau, Agudelo, Davis, etc.

    I’d then start Boyd and Dempsey up top. Re Altidore and Gomez I think people continue to confuse club form with NT production. Deuce always does it for us, and many nights Jozy is an exercise in frustration. Plus Altidore and Gomez provide two strong bench subs.

  54. The Imperative Voice says:

    I agree. I think people are so used to the effect of having players like Donovan, Dempsey, Beasley, Shea, Agudelo, and such around that they forget what they bring to the table. Our problem has traditionally been getting our backs to keep up with the opposing attack, not midfielders.

    I’m a little concerned Klinsi doesn’t quite know what he’s tinkering with. I can remember when people thought 2 DMs occasionally under Bradley was tactical suicide. Then we bring in a continential coach, but now we’re playing 3 destroyers?

  55. Andy says:

    God no. Robbie Rodgers is so far down the depth chart his name might as well be Giuseppe Rossi.

  56. gacm32 says:

    FINALLY! somebody else who knows what they’re talking about. +1.

  57. Creige says:

    I would give Corona a go rather than Torres.
    On a related note, Klinsmann’s player selection has always been biased towards MLS. Adu and Feilhaber are far more creative midfielders than anyone we have and have performed under pressure and admirably for the USMNT. Zach Loyd can play on the left or right fullback or midfield (and in his one game with the Nat’s he was excellent). I dont’ know what Chris Pontius has to do to get a shot but he can play on the wings.

  58. philmatt24 says:

    It’s been mentioned several times in previous comments, and there’s no use crying over players who are injured/recovering and unavailable for tomorrow. However, I believe that the horrific injuries to Stuart Holden are one of the major causes of our midfield dilemma today. Can’t say with certainty, but Holden’s performances before the first major injury had him earning rave reviews with Bolton in the Premiership, and he’d had some great times with the Nats leading up to that, as well. If not for losing 2+ years to injuries, he could possibly have developed well beyond what he was showing at that time.

    Imagine how we’d look this fall with healthy players:

    ——Altidore—-Gomez——
    Donovan—————-Dempsey
    ——–Bradley—-Holden—–
    Johnson–Boca–Cameron–Dolo
    ———-Howard————–

    I think Bradley and Holden can both handle the need for tenacious D *and* make things happen going forward more consistently than Jones/Edu/Beckerman. Of course, while we’re wishing that injuries never happened, how about wishing that Davies kid who scored in Azteca had never been hurt, as well?

    In conclusion, here’s hoping Holden catches some breaks with his health and gets a chance to get back to that level.

  59. The Imperative Voice says:

    Corona yes, Feilhaber yes, Pontius as a CM, Adu no, Loyd no. Benny can get it and give it at roughly Torres’ level and is better than Zusi. Benny is also occasionally very clutch and has played in big games.

    Freddy Adu, sorry, epitome of what happens when a junior star fails to translate into a senior player. When not pressured he can make a nice touch, but how often are senior-level teams going to let him turn in space? And why would they, he’s short and slow. Why should we play someone who only starts half the time for Philly?

    Some overlooked or non-called players I’d consider getting involved: Saucedo (GK, Tijuana), Beasley, Bedoya, Diskerud, Gyau, Lichaj, Chandler, Alonso (nationality), LeToux (nationality), Davis, Feilhaber, Pontius, Rolfe, and Agudelo.

  60. Brain Guy says:

    I think Holden’s already caught enough breaks. ;)

  61. louis z says:

    The closest we have to Bradley is Cameron, do we dare to move him from the back 4?

  62. louis z says:

    you make a good point. I think Jk is a little hesitant to throw in to the game the young attacking mids i.e. Corona, Mix, Gatt

  63. Brain Guy says:

    This might be the “silver lining” to Friday’s game. For all the “dominating” that Jamaica did, they did not seem threatening at all in the run of play. That might be a 1-1 game at worst under normal circumstances. Austin’s goal was just crazy.

  64. Mark says:

    In any of those proposed lineups, switch in Boyd for Altidore and it becomes much more competitive in my opinion.

  65. ilikefreddyyesadu says:

    Maybe it is the language barrier that is getting us into so much trouble on the pitch. Perhaps Boyd, Johnson, Jones, and Williams speak perfect english but it could be an issue…

  66. Vic says:

    Agreed. Hopefully Boyd starts over Altidore tomorrow.

  67. MidWest Ref says:

    I don’t have a problem with Jones in the line up, especially since Bradley is out.

    I think he works better with Bradley compared to when he feels the burden to be the only engine in the middle.

    For those calling for Torres, he will get overrun by the athletic midfield of Jamaica.

  68. Steve says:

    Why don’t we field a team playing remotely close to the positions they play for their club….

    ————-Altidore————-
    ——-Dempsey——————–
    -Shea———————-Corona-
    ———Cameron—-Jones———
    Johnson–Boca—Spector–Parkhurst
    ————-Howard—————

    We might just surprise somebody……

  69. The Imperative Voice says:

    Yeah, I think Boyd is a more coordinated athlete with better all around attributes and better upside where Altidore is a bulky, blunt instrument with fitness limits and probably always will be.

    I think people touting his Eredivise efforts forget that’s a fast break, no defense league where teams like Ajax and PSV already have 15 goals from 4 games. Michael Bradley had like 15 goals there in a season.

    Last, I think people continue to make the “Reverse Costly” assumption about Jozy, that club play translates to national production (Carlos Costly is forever getting club jobs from the hope that he’ll eventually be as productive in club as he is for country….never happens….he’s now in the Greek league). His strike rate is actually no higher for the nats per appearance than Gomez’s (or Bunbury or Buddle). His tendency to excel only against particular teams like Italy (or Trinidad one night) arguably reflects he’s more effective against teams that let you play….not a standard assumption at the international level (the US has always played Italy well because they will back off and let us play, and rely instead on being unbeatable in their catenaccio man marking….which plays into our athleticism and indulges our occasionally skill limits on the ball).

    In the absence of Donovan, I’d say you go with Dempsey up top, he will produce, alongside Boyd, who is a more athletic and mobile target man. You then have Gomez primed as supersub, alongside Jozy, who has excelled in that role before also. By putting in Jozy late, you get his fresh bluk against tired defenses, and his target ability late if needed for a result, without having to toss the big chunks of a game Jozy sometimes does when his work rate is not there.

    I think Dempsey is wasted in CM, get him wide or get him up top.

  70. Hayes says:

    Agree on the width.

    Think we need to go with a 4-4-2 with something like the following:

    ———Altidore—–Gomez———-
    Shea————————–Dempsey
    ———Spector—-Williams———
    Johnson—-Cameron—Edu——Dolo—
    Howard

    If Dolo is not healthy, play Pakhurst.
    Williams, based on the little he played Friday, looks like he may be a better solution in the DM with Spector adding a little more box to box activity.
    Dempsey would drift in and Gomez outside part of the time to continue to put someone in the hole and provide width.
    Shea provides width on the left with both outside backs providing width when we can hold on to possession. Think you need the speed of Edu over Boca if we are attacking more and may need to defend their counter.

  71. The Imperative Voice says:

    Taylor can be beat for speed not for size. I think the pro-Altidore bunch is ignoring the matchups. Jamaica’s defense has some speed limits so put some runners up top….Dempsey, Boyd. Putting Jozy up there plays into their hands, and Gomez is just a poacher.

    Similarly, I think anyone wanting to run Parkhurst or Goodson (or Adu or Kljestan for that matter) out against a fast bunch of Jamaicans should instruct them to wear a kick-me sign too.

    Our selections need to be roughly in their neighborhood physically, at which point we then can win on technique and discipline IMO. But if we show up slow and technical you’re betting your technique outdoes their speed, which at a high level tends to be a losing concept…..technique only tends to beat fast and very sloppy….Antigua. It’s a running game and when we forget that Panama happens.

  72. The Imperative Voice says:

    Spector? If you thought Edu and Beckerman were struggling to stay with their men and fouling and creating the free kicks for goals, imagine Spector. Human dribbling cone. If Klinsi even half believes this he should be fired for thinking it, without providing Spector a rope to lasso his marks.

    I mean, seriously. People so want to turn this into some Barca prettiness they do not get what Jones offers. Accept no substitutes. Jones is probably better on the ball than Spector and destroys like a fullback.

    What I think Jones needs is a real CAM where there’s a division of labor and Jones plays more of a destroyer role. The problem with the present 2 or 3 DM schemes is they limit Jones’ monopoly on defense while forcing him to trade off at a creative role which is less his forte. So play a real 10 or Torres facsimile, and let Jones do the dirty work.

  73. Felix says:

    I heard a stat on The Best Soccer Show that said on Friday night, Edu and Jones gave the ball away around 30x and Beckerman gave it away around 7x for the entire game.
    I’m not throwing this stat out there as a justification for the continued inclusion of Beckerman (even though I believe he has his place in certain games/situations). Just some perspective.
    I’m not a big fan of including Torres tomorrow, if people have a problem with Beckerman’s size and speed, can you imagine Torres lazily chasing play and attempting to tackle the Jamaicans…..
    Play a 4-2-2 with Gomez and Altidore up top, with Shea and Zusi behind them and a combo of Williams/Jones/Edu behind them. And the same back 4 from Friday (who played well in my estimation considernig their midfield continually put them in bad situations).

  74. Felix says:

    I’ve thought about that as well, perhaps push Cameron up as one of the D-mids and put Bocanegra into the back 4.
    My only issue with it is I like Cameron as a future CB, and want him to get the reps at the position considering he plays midfield at Stoke City.
    But as a short term solution, it probably would work.

  75. The Imperative Voice says:

    Holden’s been out so long with such serious injuries that it becomes, well, a John O’Brien or Chandler thing. I would like if he came back but I can’t assume it. You almost have to treat him as a non-entity at the international level because you have no idea what to expect, until he actually comes back.

  76. EA says:

    Why don’t we just plug in Beasley on the left, and some sort of creative presence, like a Feilhaber or Kljestan in the center, paired with a defensive minded midfielder?

    Oh, that’s right….. we didn’t call in any wide players or creative central midfielders.

    I guess Danny Williams will have to do, then

  77. Weston says:

    I agree with the comment about Altidore up top. Putting him up there does play into their strategy. Not about Gomez though.

    Parkhurst and Goodson did fine against them on Friday. If you watched the game Friday, then this comment doesn’t hold water.Defense wasn’t really the issue.

    We don’t have to match them physically. Betting that your technique outdoes their speed does typically works. Jamaica is crazy fast. But how often do they make it to the Hex? Obviously some better albeit slightly slower teams are relying on technique to get them by. And history says that they can.

  78. Weston says:

    *make it past the hex*

  79. Vic says:

    Corona is a creative central player. Shea is a wide player(although the only one).

  80. DF says:

    Cameron has said time and time again he prefers CB as he can see the whole field. I would like to see the 4-3-3 like this.
    —Shea—–Altidore—–Dempsey
    ————Corona————–
    ——-Jones——–Edu———
    –Johnson–Boca–Cameron–Dolo

    Give Shea and Dempsey freedom to roam, as they see to be the only two with confidence to go at people, while Johnson and Dolo proovide depth. Corona seems to be the best “playmaker” on the roster so lets see if he can carry over his positive play from the u-23′s.

  81. Shawn says:

    1) I think we all agree Jones played a pathetic match vs Jamaica too. I don’t know why Klinsi insists on playing JJ in attacking roles, when he has no vision or touch in the attacking third.

    2) Beckerman didn’t give the ball away a ‘lot’ against Jamaica. But he was run out of position a number of times, and his foul set up the first goal. I don’t say he should be banished from the team. But starting him against pacey sides is a debacle waiting to happen. Especially when one team is playing 5 midfielders and he’s going to have to chase TWO playmakers.

    I don’t have any problem with KB as a bench option to see off a won game or to provide cover tactically. He’s intelligent, plays simple but smart passes, and is sure in the tackle when he’s in position. But if he has to chase the game, he’s lost.

  82. Shawn says:

    I think Jamaica is too physical for Torres to start against. That said, I was shocked when he wasn’t the 1st option off the bench in Kingston. Dropping Edu into KB’s spot and putting Torres as the left sided forward midfielder seemed the most logical choice. Adding speed and giving the side some measure of creativity it clearly lacked.

    For starting this match, I’d prefer Zusi. He’s capable of being more physical, and he’s not going to be muscled off the ball as easily.

  83. Shawn says:

    I agree with that. I think the only way the midfield triangle works is with Bradley to anchor it. Both Jones and Edu need MB to steady the ship. He also has the vision to know when to launch a counterattack and when to hold play up.

    When Jones feels he has to ‘create’ he starts trying to play like Roy Keane, and the only parts of Keane’s game he can emulate is the nasty challenges and barking.

  84. Donovan Robertson says:

    Guys, the question is, are we fielding our best eleven starters. There is no creativity with the players Klinsmann has been fielding. He has blinders on and has not given others players a chance. Corona is a solution to his problem. He plays in more competitive League than Edu, Beckerman and Shea. He handles pressure better than Torres. He is one of the most skilled and technical players on the squad. Why has Klinsmann kept him on the bench. Now I known why Klinsmann got booted from the German Team and Bayern Munich. He cannot evaluate talent, develop players or manage a game. He was a bad hire and its manifesting itself. We will be lucky to qualify for the World Cup. We need someone who understand soccer. He played it but does not understand the technical part of the game. God help us!!!

  85. Scott says:

    I would keep Gomez and forgo Beasley, otherwise, I am with you. Jamaica sat back for 15 minutes waiting for us to assume control. Eventually they grew confident and started pressing. Ball control and width keeps them on their back foot and negates most of their speed.

  86. JW says:

    I like the Pit-bull, except with Torres in the middle and Dempsey out right…

    Altidore
    Shea-Torres-Dempsey
    Jones-Williams

    There’s enough speed there at DM to cover and with a distributor in the middle of all of the offensive pieces. Dempsey is better when he can find space out wide or drift centrally when defenders are preoccupied. Altidore likes to drift right to find space with the Nats, and that would allow Dempsey to drift inside late.

    That being said, I would love to see what Gatt could do against a 3-4-3. 3-4-3 is gets pulled out of position when the flanks are penetrated, Which lets you:

    Altidore-Dempsey
    Shea-Bradley-Gatt
    Williams/or/Jones

  87. Scott says:

    I am having trouble juxtaposing your moniker with someone who cares enough to write!

  88. beachbum says:

    well said. I agree

    yet if Coach tasks the boys to play a certain way then the pieces needed to play that way are overlooked for others…after a while if it doesn’t work one wonders why others aren’t called and tried. Benny has proven he can…he’s done it, made differences off the bench, etc. certainly provided more than what we’ve seen from those asked to play that role on Klinnsman’s teams i would argue…slam dunk

    the calls for Sacha are because he’s improved, keeps getting better AND plays the position on a team that earned it’s way into the Champions League. It’s not irrational to want to see those guys given a look, a shot, with the rest of the team considering the situation…disagree with you there.

    man, I’m no fanboy, too old for that ;)

  89. beachbum says:

    +1

    but I do like Jozy; needs the right players setting him up, the right ideas to help him do his thing

  90. beachbum says:

    what I think Jones needs is to keep his cool

    teams will bait him, period. can’t give in, period.

    when they foul him like that or whatever to screw with him, he’s got to use it to play better, not act out

  91. Original Aaron says:

    —————Altidore——————
    —Shea—–Gomez——Dempsey
    ———-Torres—–Jones————
    -Johnson—————Cherundolo-
    ———–Edu——Cameron———

    4-2-3-1. Torres and jones as your 2 DMs allows both to play in the same roles they excel at at club level. Jones can play as a pure destroyer, and then dish the ball square left to Jose to find the break-out pass, square right to Dolo to take it up the flank, or drop it to Cameron to distribute. No one on our current roster is a #10 with the exception of perhaps Zusi, but I don’t trust him on this stage with his limited international experience. Dempsey’s style is more to lull you to sleep and then pop-up in the right place at the right time than it is to be hustling all over the field, so to me Gomez’s game is the best fit for the #10 role. This allows Dempsey to play wide and cut inside- as he prefers to do. Dolo will have to provide the width on the right side but he’s shown many times in the past that he can do that well. Shea can provide good service on the left, and with him and Torres combining and Johnson overlapping its likely the attack would move up our left side, which is fine because we’d have Jozy crashing the near post, Herc making the far post run, and Dempsey making the late run into the box to clean things up.

  92. Eurosnob says:

    I can understand the reasoning behind your suggestion of not playing Beckerman against “pacey” sides, but in fairness to Klinsmann, Beckerman was solid in the last two games against Mexico and Mexico has plenty of speed.

  93. Eugene says:

    If you want Torres to drive the car, you might as well throw away the keys. It’s a waste of time. The guy needs to prove he deserves minutes, and he’s no where near earned a starting spot. If he can start producing off the bench, then maybe his name would be possible to pencil in somewhere.

  94. chad says:

    i agree. i thought beckerman was incredibly solid against mexico. not surprised to see ives slant an anti-beckerman view point…

  95. Rosie says:

    Gomnez is not a winger. He’s best in the middle where he can get into the box

  96. Grant says:

    I don’t get it? We all want more goals but all of you are saying to leave Zusi out? Zusi is incredibly gifted at creating chances and putting accurate and playable balls into attacking chances… There is a reason why he is leading the MLS in Assists and his team Sporting KC is First in points. He can get the job done, but JK won’t give him a chance other than putting him in in the 75th minute of games.

  97. Kevin says:

    Howard
    Cherundolo Cameron Bocanegra Johnson
    Jones
    Zusi Corona Torres Shea
    Dempsey

  98. quozzel says:

    I would agree. Jones and Bradley are our best center mids, by a bunch. I personally prefer Bradley going forward and Jones playing enforcer and cleaning up behind him, but those are the two most capable mids in the Nat pool by quite a bit…Edu is certainly third but he kind of reminds me of a poor man’s Jones and is basically the same player without the long-passing ability.

    I think Torres has stuck around longer than he should have because Klinsmann and America in general both really want a true #10 and he’s the closest we’ve got…he’s just not…quite…a #10. Freddy Adu could maybe be that guy if he ever gets his head screwed on right, and the Mythical Stuart Holden maybe could be if he wasn’t always hurt…but I digress. Regardless, after Edu it gets thin fast. I can live with Beckerman, but not against Jamaica – who are not just fast, but also big, which is a combo he can’t handle.