Photo by Douglas Zimmerman/ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
The biggest question heading into Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Antigua & Barbuda isn’t so much who will start, but rather who will be left around to play.
That is the sentiment surrounding the U.S. Men’s National Team as Jurgen Klinsmann deals with a rash of injuries and illness that has decimated his options at left back, and diminished his options in midfield.
As much as this may be leading to panic among sections of the U.S. national team fan base, the fact remains there is still more than enough talent at Klinsmann’s disposal to secure the victory on Antigua & Barbuda.
So which 11 players will Klinsmann turn to on Friday? Here is SBI’s projected starting lineup for the match:
PROJECTED USMNT LINEUP
Carlos Bocanegra is a player I had long considered a lock to start this match, but with two games in five days I don’t see Klinsmann starting him in both games and Guatemala is the tougher of the two matches. Bocanegra will be needed to help deal with Carlos Ruiz so I see him resting for this one.
Parkhurst is the left back. He has played the position before on the club level and while he won’t provide much in the way of service, he can handle any defensive responsibilities that may arise, and he can certainly carry the ball forward if given the chance to attack. Carlos Bocanegra might seem like a simple option here, but as noted above, I think he’s more valuable as a starting centerback against Guatemala, and we also need to consider the yellow card situation (several Americans are on yellow cards).
The front seven is very similar to the front seven we saw against Jamaica in Columbus, only Michael Bradley is playing in Jermaine Jones’ spot and Sacha Kljestan is playing in Jose Torres spot. This front seven can play at least as well, if not better, and has the qualities to break down an Antigua & Barbuda defense that will surely be in bunker mode.
Klinsmann could be tempted to play a 4-3-3, which Eddie Johnson replacing Kljestan in a set-up like this:
I personally like the idea of this lineup, which would have Dempsey and Gomez working with Bradley and Zusi to use Johnson as the target up top. Dempsey and Gomez could stretch the Antigua defense while Bradley and Zusi look for gaps.
Jermaine Jones came into camp with an injury and I think he sits this one out. If not, we could see him deployed as a No. 6, but with a mission to join the attack if Antigua really does bunker heavily.
Klinsmann will ultimately have to decide between starting Johnson or Kljestan, and that will determine whether they go 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. I’m more inclined to see Klinsmann at least start out in a 4-4-2, with the 4-3-3 becoming an option in the second half if the team still needs a goal or two.
What do you think of the projected lineup? Who are you hoping gets the call? If you were the coach, would you go 4-4-2 or 4-3-3?
Share your thoughts below.