Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
CLEVELAND- While we went through our traditional exercise of trying to project the U.S. Men’s National Team lineup for Wednesday’s friendly vs. Belgium just a week ago, the myriad of changes in the camp has shaken things up enough to justify another look at the lineup Klinsmann could field against the Belgians.
One player we projected to start vs. Belgium was Maurice Edu, who has been forced out of camp with an injury. That has opened the door for Sacha Kljestan to earn his first USMNT start in almost two years.
There are also some fresh question marks about the defense, with both Geoff Cameron and Jurgen Klinsmann making recent statements suggesting Cameron’s most likely national team position is still centerback. If Cameron doesn’t start at right back, it will mean at least one surprise in the lineup that faces Belgium.
So what lineup could we see against Belgium? Here is our latest crack at the team that could take the field on Wednesday night:
PROJECTED USMNT LINEUP vs. BELGIUM (Updated)
———Jozy Altidore—————–Clint Dempsey———
Herculez Gomez———————————Graham Zusi
—————Sacha Kljestan——-Jermaine Jones———–
DaMarcus Beasley——————————Geoff Cameron
———-Clarence Goodson———–Omar Gonzalez——–
Here are some thoughts on the squad:
(UPDATED)- Based on the USMNT’s training session on Tuesday, the above lineup looks like a good bet to be the lineup we see against Belgium.)
If Klinsmann is determined to get some players fit heading into the June qualifiers, he needs his first-choice players on the field as much as possible. That means Altidore starting and it means keeping his first-choice defense together. The right back spot has been hit hard by the absences of Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler, and if Klinsmann still wants Cameron at centerback, that leaves even fewer options at right back. It could mean a chance for Parkhurst to start, but for now Cameron still seems like a good bet to be the right back.
Klinsmann’s decision to start Kljestan is an interesting one considering it marks the first time he has actually started Klinsmann since becoming U.S. head coach. It was as recently as the March qualifier against Mexico that Kljestan wasn’t even asked to warm up for that match. The absences of Edu, Jose Torres and Michael Bradley have given Kljestan a great chance to state his case that he deserves to be higher on the depth chart.
The Matt Besler-Omar Gonzalez centerback tandem did very well against Mexico, but Gonzalez has had his ups and downs in MLS play in the months since. If Klinsmann is concerned about that you can understand why he’d want to have Cameron as his centerback anchor. Cameron is a more experienced option than Gonzalez or Besler, but seems like a better partnership fit with Besler.
(UPDATE- The tandem of Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez worked together at centerback on Tuesday night and if they start vs. Belgium it will be their first start since teaming up in the Snow Game, the national team’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying win vs. Costa Rica.)
This lineup leaves Eddie Johnson out of the equation, and considering he just started on Sunday night for Seattle in MLS play, you could see Klinsmann preferring to use him as a sub on Wednesday and potentially as a starting option vs. Germany on Sunday.
What do you think of this projected lineup? Which change or changes would you make to it?
Share your thoughts below.