Difficult roster decisions on the horizon for Klinsmann

JurgenKlinsmannUSMNTBosnia1 (ISIPhotos)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

With less than two weeks away before a pair grueling World Cup qualifiers in Costa Rica and in Columbus, Ohio against Mexico, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is beginning to put the pieces together on his roster.

If the current 12-game winning streak has shown anything to Klinsmann and his coaching staff, it’s that the squad is progressing like he had always hoped, and there is competition at every position for a place in the team. By selecting 45 different players during the course of the summer’s schedule, the USMNT manager has had a chance to see up close and personal everyone from sure starters to players for the future.

“The pool became deeper,” Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “We have more flexibility. I think we have more players now that understand what the demands are, actually fulfilled their roles very positively, and are ready to match those demands.”

Klinsmann was also complimentary of a number of players who took sizable steps forward this summer in their development, including midfielders Joe Corona, Alejandro Bedoya, and Mix Diskerud. The three were a key part of the Gold Cup squad, helping lead the USMNT to their first title in the competition since 2007.

“It’s been great to see how players came along over the last two years and make the decisions for us even more difficult,” Klinsmann said. “The tricky part now is how to unite the rosters from the Gold Cup and the games from May and June. There are going to be very tough decisions.”

According to Klinsmann, the most important factor when selecting his roster will be if a player is getting games each week for his team. That opens up questions for some players in the national team pool, including Michael Parkhurst, Tim Ream, and the Stoke City duo Brek Shea and Maurice Edu, all of whom are still working their way into the lineup in the young season.

Klinsmann’s mantra since taking over has been to make sure players are in a rhythm, and with big pressure matches on the horizon at Costa Rica and at home against Mexico, the USMNT head coach understands the need for everyone to be match fit come September 6 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

“It will impact it, no doubt about it. World Cup qualifying is very intense, and you need the players to be sharp and in full swing as much possible,” Klinsmann said. “It’s never going to be the ideal scenario. You always have to make some compromises here and there, especially based on what a specific game demands. Having said that, it’s crucial that the guys have their minutes in their legs and are ready for those types of intense games.”

As Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey made big transfer moves this summer, the USMNT boss also waded into the conversation calling for the European summer transfer window to end earlier. Klinsmann praised Altidore’s move to Sunderland and complimented Major League Soccer highly for the growth of talent in the league, where a good amount of his squad players ply their trade.

At the same time, Klinsmann has first-hand experience in dealing with the harsher side of the transfer window, likely recalling last year’s deadline day moves by Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra, which set the two back in their match fitness for the national side.

“It’s wrong. There is plenty of time in the offseason for transfers to take place,” Klinsmann said. “It could be done by July 31 and it would be completely fine. It would be better for the players who are getting transferred, because they could still get in a little part of preseason with their new team. Now it just drags on until the beginning of September and teams are already in full swing. It messes everybody up, and it’s a lose-lose.”

——–

What do you make of these comments? Do you see Klinsmann leaving off players who aren’t playing regularly for their team’s? Do you agree that the USMNT pool is deeper?

Share your thoughts below.

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114 Responses to Difficult roster decisions on the horizon for Klinsmann

  1. SoonyIsSad says:

    Pretty sure this is exactly what SanFran was talking about yesterday when people went in on him/her.

    Dempsey is not in game shape or form and Klinsmann is implicitly decrying that.

  2. USMNT Fan says:

    Klinsmann’s 23 Moving Forward:

    Howard Guzan Rimando

    Evans Cameron
    Goodson Gonzalez
    Besler Brooks
    Johnson Beasley

    Zusi Bedoya
    Jones Beckerman
    Bradley Diskerud
    Donovan Corona

    Dempsey Johannsson
    Altidore Johnson

    • George Baldwin says:

      Not bad at all.

    • Vic says:

      Seems right to me.

    • euroman says:

      I think you are peeking at JK’s notebook wiht these predictions!

    • Yusef says:

      Looks good. Someone will have a breakout season (arriola maybe), get healthy (‘dolo?), or focus (Chandler?) and slide back into the picture due to injury or loss of form by someone in this core group.

    • TD says:

      Looks like a very reasonable projection. It makes me think that there needs to be another player who could go at left back. I suppose Evans could play there if need be. More likely, Klinsmann will be forced to bring in Castillo. So that begs the question of who is out? Could be Corona, Diskerud, Beckerman? With two games, there is a risk of injury and of course it’s CONCACAF Qualy’s, so mysterious red and yellow cards can appear at any time.

      Also, if Brooks’ substitution today was for injury, that could open the door for Castillo or another LB to come in since there are still 4 CBs that could get the team through a double catastrophe.

    • ThatKidNandez says:

      Get castillo for Zusi! Arriola, McInerney, Zardes, or Wood for johnson he hasn’t been impressive lately. Zusi is coming off a injury and i’ve never been impressed.

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      Not a real, full time fullback in the bunch, That will be a problem,

      • GW says:

        Other than Dolo and Chandler JK has not really used any “real, full time fullbacks”.

        They seem be doing just fine anyway.

    • Flimflam says:

      You forgot Wondowlowski. He’s going to start in the World Cup.

    • Long Time Listener says:

      Howard Guzan S.Johnson

      F.Johnson Beasley
      Cameron Besler
      Brooks Gonzalez
      Chandler Evans

      Jones Edu
      Bradley Diskerud
      Donovan Zusi
      Holden Shea

      Dempsey Johannsson
      Altidore E.Johnson

      At this point, barring injury, this is my prediction.

      That said, count me in the “not that impressed” camps for Zusi, Evans, Gonzo, Bedoya camps. Would rather see Corona for Zusi personally. He has played great at times, but I just don’t see him as vital to anything we are doing and as old as he is, why take him if intangibly he offers no more than a Corona or Diskerud?

      Figure Evans gets edged out if Cherundolo comes back strong. Still unsure of Timmy’s situation but can’t see him off the roster when it matters.

      Don’t see the reasoning behind calling in Rimando. What are the chances the third keeper starts. Like Howard and Guzan before, bring a guy capable of filling in but who will likely be involved in the next cycle, eg Sean Johnson.

      Would’ve liked to see Klinsy try Benny Feilhaber at least ONCE this year. How does one of the most skilled American midfielders ever to prove himself against international competition fall so far out of the conversation while still in his prime. I mean, WTF?

      Also anticipating all the muck that will be raked my way with my penciling in of Holden, but see him as a John O’Brien situation this go round. Almost feels like a blessing he got hurt early enough that he has that window to return in time (as small as it may be.) Count him out at your own peril. After he’s there (like O’Brien) it’s anybody’s guess whether he figures.

      As usual. No Torres. No Goodson. No Wondo. No Beckerman. Get off it people.

      Corona could make it. See him taking Holden’s spot should he fail to achieve the impossible.

      Won’t shed a tear for Danny Williams.

      Shea is in already, no question.

      Would like to see Bocanegra make a go of it, the defensive line could use the veteran presence, and honestly between Cameron, Brooks, Besler, Gonzalez I don’t feel even 50% ready to face prime time attacking teams we will see in the group stage. But Los seems very doubtful, he’s fallen off the map too far. Mark my words… when we have trouble at the WC it will start and end at CB.

      Lastly, would really like to see Agudelo get a camp before January and see how he pairs with Jozy, but again… not likely.

      • GW says:

        If Benny, who I love, has trouble getting on the field in KC why should he go to Brazil?

        • Long Time Listener says:

          Have you never heard of a brilliant player, one possibly playing (or not playing) in an unfortunate club situation, who wasn’t necessarily in “top form” for his club, coming into a national squad and having a good tournament, nigh, a great tournament? Has this never happened? Have managers the world around always only selected those players playing regularly for the clubs? I understand this is the norm for national team managers the world around… and admittedly it is the most reasonable criteria any football philosopher would begin with when judging whether or not a player should play in the world’s greatest tournament. But does that mean it is always that black and white?

          I say it decidedly is not so black and white, and I believe Klinsy agrees with me; Michael Parkhurst and Brek Shea are just two examples recently of players who have seen ample USMNT opportunities despite figuring little in their respective clubs up to that point.

          I would also note that club managers the world over are not infallible. Situations players find themselves in are not always so cut and dried and I think it would be shortsighted of any national team manager to leave a player home who “in form” or not can help his side when given the opportunity.

          Alas, a quick perusal of the Sporting KC website will tell you Benny has started 17 games this season (including 6 of the last 8 matches Sporting has played) and logged 1400 minutes. Hardly “having trouble getting on the field” as you have put it. Your point taken, but methinks it is moot.

          The question is, why–even before a spell between 5 May and 3 July (when Vermes only started Benny in 2 of 9 contests and he logged only 208 minutes in those 9 contests; the only spell I can conjure that would necessitate your feeling on the matter)–has Klinsy not tried the Brazilian-American more than twice? Once in January 2012 and only once this year, again in January.

          • GW says:

            LTL,

            You are right, player selection is never black and white.

            However, I’m assuming that none of us who comment on this site are in the locker room or have access to JK and his staff. So it seems to me they have better information on the situation than us outsiders do. And I am also assuming JK and his staff are doing their best to put together the best team possible. It is in their own best interests after all.

            To me this means that if they believed Benny or Freddy, George John, Lichaj , Bornstein, Rico Clark, Conor Casey, Danny Szetela or Preston Zimmerman could help they would call them in.

            Obviously, they do not think these guys can help. Not yet anyway.

            Managers and their staff are not infallible.
            However, I am under the impression the USMNT is heading in the right direction and to those of us on the outside, by and large this program seems to be running as well as we have ever seen it. The results show that when it comes to choosing players they seem to be doing an acceptable job of it.

            So unlike you, I am willing to make a leap of faith and trust that they aren’t wrong about a superstar like Benny.

            In my case it helps that I have followed Benny’s notable inconsistencies since 2007. Some of the posters on SBI have not been following the team long enough to remember when Clint played in midfield. When I first saw Benny and Mikey together I thought I was looking at the USMNT’s central pairing for the next eight years. And I thought Benny was the more talented one. At least I was half right.

            Benny is wonderfully talented but in the last six years what he has given the USMNT is only a fraction of what his considerable talent would have allowed him to give if Benny had any idea of how to harness it.

            Just go over his career and you will see it is all about underachievement. He has been living off that 2007 Gold Cup final golazo for years.

            With him, I believe it has gotten to the point where the USMNT thinks they can get whatever it is Benny can do from a combination of players such as Mikey, Mixx, Sacha, Jones, Beckerman, etc. In fact, I’ll bet they are more interested on waiting for Holden to recover in time rather than call in Benny.

            But again, it’s about ten months and maybe Benny, that wild and crazy guy, figures it out and gets his butt in gear and shocks everyone. He could you know but first he’ll have to do as JK told him to and impress Vermes.

  3. Bac says:

    Oh golly gee…considering some of the recent posts over the last few days, I guess this means Dempsey will definitely not be called in…..

    (FYI- The interview question about the European transfer window does not mention Dempsey as this article would have you believe)

    • Mike E. says:

      You don’t think that response is in reference to Dempsey–the only player who made a late late transfer to a team in full swing already that couldn’t just dump him in?

      • Bac says:

        Here’s what I think:
        -I think everybody is overthinking this
        -I think I’m sick of reading negative posts about Deuce who has earned his stripes and carried us through qualifying into and through the hex until Jozy found his form
        -I think I’m sick of conspiracy theories that Deuce either is out of favor or won’t be called in
        – I think I’m sick of reading that the Iceman should be starting over Deuce because he’s scored 5 goals

        I think DEUCE gets called in, starts, wears the Captain’s armband like he’s supposed to
        That is what I think

        • Kev says:

          I am with you totally. Although, I must say, after seeing the Iceman play against Bosnia and his recent form, i really think he will change things and force himself into a starting spot. Only saw less than a half from him for the USMNT but i had not been impressed with a new player as much as I was.

          I am surprised how fast he is. i am psyched to see him and donovan play together. Dempsey is my favorite player for quite sometime but I do think the Iceman has created competition among the attackers – including Dempsey.

          In regards to talk about Dempsey’s move to MLS. I actually see the great advantage being the ease of travel to CONCACAF games now. I feel like he will be fresher for these USMNT games. I agree with you though – the transfer move should have no bearing on him being called in, starting, and the arm band. all his to lose.

          • Gary Page says:

            Amid all this love for Johannson people forget that he has played half a season plus, what, four games so far this year in the Dutch league. Two of his goals so far this year are penalty kicks. He is only 20. I think he has a bright future, but to put him ahead of established players is absurd. Maybe he starts in Brazil, but even that may be a stretch. Look for him to be a late sub in the qualifiers.

            • Long Time Listener says:

              You are off your gourd rocker, sir. The BEST players go. Not your best attendance merit badge players. BEST. PLAYERS. GO.

            • louis z says:

              If you think the Iceman has ONLY being playing like this for half a season, then you haven’t keeping tabs on him. This is the way he ALWAYS plays. He didn’t score the fastest hat trick in Danish league history for nothing. The kid has been playing like this for over a year.

              • Gary Page says:

                To my critics, I am aware of his prior stint in Denmark. However, the jump in quality from there and half a season in Holland to the World Cup or even qualifiers is very large. The US team is pretty strong now, it is past the time where some guy can just stroll in a grab a starting spot without proving himself in some big games.

            • wandmdave says:

              I’m not ready to anoint Johannson as a lock starter for the WC yet but he isn’t 20. He’s 22 and will be 23 in November. He isn’t as young as you think.

            • Long Time Listener says:

              Is it absurd to say that Mix Diskerud deserves to be ahead of Jose Torres or Joe Corona? Or that Sacha Kljesten or Alejandro Bedoya might be able to sneak onto the plane of 23 ahead of someone like Kyle Beckerman?

              Diskerud plays in Norway.
              Kljesten plays in Belgium.
              Bedoya played in Sweden, and then Scotland and then Sweden again (only recently transferring to a top-flight league in Ligue 1)

              All three of these guys have been consistently in the conversation for the final 23 for months now, and IMO all have the possibility of making the team and perhaps even starting a game in the group stage. (Mix especially. Bedoya and Kljesten I believe are one click further down the depth chart)

              That they appeared on JK ‘s and all of our radars playing in sub-par leagues seems to have affected their chances no worse than any player plying his trade in MLS ever has.

              It was obvious you were badly informed. You sum up the man’s (Aron Bacon’s) experience as, well, inexperience You even seemed to be under the impression that he is 20 years old (he will turn 23 in November 2013) You were called out as being misinformed. Now you attempt to shake off your prior comment by assuring us you were aware of his past credentials, yet you seem less illuminated even still. Best players go to the World Cup.

              I for one think, at this point, with only Jozy and EJ as likely bets to make the 23 at striker (not counting Clint and Landon here) young Aron Johannsson only has competition from Herculez Gomez, Terrence Boyd and possibly (hopefully) Juan Agudelo. I think it is possible that two of those 4 players will make the team. We have all seen all four of those players play now for club and for country, we have a good idea of what their ceilings and their floors are. Everyone else here and elsewhere on the internet are not just getting carried away, their are merely responding to what their eyes tell them. Aron Johannsson has the look of a US striker second to only one. We have not been able to say that about many (if any) players.

              So yeah, I’m not sure if your just Herculez Gomez or Chris Wondolowski’s biggest fans, but the kid can, and will play.

              And at this point, if you were ranking who has a better shot at not only making the team but seeing the field in Brazil, I’d say Aron Johannsson is above even Graham Zusi on that list.

    • louis z says:

      I don’t think Dempsey is going to be left behind just because he is back in MLS. I think he will be in San Jose, is he going to be a starter? I think it will depend how good he looks in the next 2 games. Last year he was going to start even if it was in a wheelchair. That’s how much our program has changed in 12 months.

  4. nato says:

    xwhys there always such a long delay before we see the roster? its like we always found out 2days before a match unlike every other nation that releases theirs 10days ahead. is it some kind of pseudo kinda thing?

  5. matt little says:

    Sorry to change the subject….but am I the only one that didn’t know that I can watch ANY of the epl games on DirecTV channels on Saturday mornings?

    • MarIndy says:

      You can also watch whichever game you want if you have Brighthouse. NBCSports has completely changed my Saturdays.

    • Gary Page says:

      This is frustrating. Last week a listing said that 2 Direct TV channels carried the games but they weren’t there. I wrote about that and somebody on this site replied that they were on channels 491 to 495 and yet when I tried those today, I got a “channel not available” message. Fortunately, the only game I wanted to see that I missed was the Stoke game.

      • Left Wing says:

        You might need the sports package or NBC sports to access them.
        I’m not sure, but I’ve been getting them and have those channels.

        It’s been outstanding ..

  6. AngelOfLA says:

    Please Chicharito is not is not game also and is been call up for the Mexican National Roster. Dempsey should be call in, maybe not be a starter but at least he can come in as a sub. What you guys think?

  7. Good Jeremy says:

    Klinsmann is sure hard on Dempsey considering he was the one making speeches and guilting him to challenge himself at a bigger club than Fulham.

    • Bac says:

      Read the article from US Soccer, he doesn’t mention Dempsey and I think this SBI write up is misleading the way it is written

    • Timmytwoshoezzz says:

      Maybe because Seattle isn’t actually bigger than Fulham, excluding the attendance figures

      • Tom says:

        Define bigger? Neither disagreeing or agreeing with you but I think that statement is at best debatable because the qualities that go into being “big” are subjective (after you get past the obvious top clubs like MU, RM, FCB, BM, et.al.)

  8. beachbum says:

    we’ll see. Seems Klinnsman has made roster choices for all kinds of reasons including ones outside of being match fit. it’s not that big a deal and pretty normal I think.

    anyway, tomorrow night’s Sounders vs. Timbers game should give an excellent look at Dempsey’s form, in front of 65,000+

  9. Alexandria says:

    You guys do realize Dempsey had about 22 days off right? He was with Tottenham during preseason. If Klinsmann is referring to him about a late season move it was last year when he went to Spurs and it was late in the window. Now Does Dempsey make the team Yes! does he start Yes! why because he is the captain and he will play with Seattle the qualifiers aren’t for 2 more weeks the MLS season is in the wind down and these games all mean something so its more pressure for Clint to deliver its a better situation then hoping you’re in the 18 at Spurs.

  10. Colin in MT says:

    Remember when the tough roster decisions were which less-than-international-quality players would round out the roster?

    The fact that fans are even debating whether Dempsey will make the roster (which I think is a tad bit reactionary), says more about our depth than anything. A year ago, Dempsey was called in and played 90 minutes after having no preseason and it wasn’t even a question he would.

    • Colin in MT says:

      Out of the 45 players called in this summer I would guess the majority of US fans would feel confident with at least 30 of them starting, let alone making the team

    • Gary Page says:

      Anybody who thinks Dempsey shouldn’t be called to the team is borderline soccer crazy. Nothing has changed from him being one of the best scoring Americans ever. A few months ago he scored two against Germany. How soon some forget.

  11. Bird says:

    Any word on Brooks injury today? I didnt see it does anyone know if it was serious? He was subbed off in the 23rd minute.

    • Ryan says:

      I was watching the game. He ran off, high-fived his teammates and sat down. Certainly did not look like he was laboring at all. If not, what a dick move making tactical changes in the 23rd min.

      • euroman says:

        This sounds worst than if he were injured…perhaps he had to go potty and just couldn’t wait until halftime, you know how it is with young players.

      • Bird says:

        Interesting considering he didnt start last match. I chalked that up to short turnaround from the US v Bosnia match. Weird to sub a CB out without injury or redcard……hopefully he gets a full 90 next game and this is just a fluke coincidence.

    • louis z says:

      he picked up a quad strain during the week and started to tighten during the game. Coach took him about as a precautionary measure.

      • louis z says:

        turns out that may not be the true story, coach has said that Brooks was taken out for tactical reasons.

  12. Alex COD says:

    The main decision Klinsmann should make:
    Cameron… GET HIM OUT OF PLAYING DEFENSE! He really sucks there compared to his midfield play. Klinsmann should be focusing on developing other players for his defense line. Cameron should be the main backup to either Jones or Bradley. I’m tired of this coach putting him on D.

    • Benjamin C. says:

      I am not sure Cameron sucks when playing as a defender compared to in midfield, but I do think that pairing him with Bradley as much as possible and letting their chemistry grow will make for the strongest possible squad for the National Team. He could also be just as important as a right back in the future, but central midfield appears to be his strongest position from what I have seen.

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      He certainly sucks as a CB, and is closer to serviceable as a full back. But I also like him best as DM behind Bradley instead of Jones.

      I see almost no chance that JK makes that change, however.

    • Travis in Miami says:

      I’ll say it again…Cameron is a jack of all trade master of none. Great for depth – too inconsistent to push others out for a starting role. He’s being challenged by an MLS CM and losing at the team’s weakest position – the position he plays for an EPL team. Something is not right. He should have that position locked down. I find it difficult to believe JK wouldn’t use him there if he was the best option. And he’s certainly behind Bradley and Jones. I never understand the vitriol for Jones.

  13. Roman Lewandowski says:

    I’m going to start the call for Lichaj right now.

  14. Zztoppppp says:

    GK: Howard, Guzan, Rimando

    DEF: F. Johnson, Beasley, Besler, Gonzalez, Goodson, Cameron, Evans, Beltran

    MID: Bradley, Jones, Diskerud, Beckerman, Corona, Zusi, Bedoya

    FWD: Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore, Johannson, E. Johnson

    • Long Time Listener says:

      hah Beltran, keep dreaming Monsier Topp

    • Lost in Space says:

      Would slot either Chandler or Lichaj in for Beltran…Not a fan of Parkhurst
      While I think Beckerman improved his status with the NT during the GC, I am not a fan.
      I’d therefore replace him with another option….(Williams, Kljestan, etc…)
      Zusi is still injured, so I don’t see him being called in for the Sept. Qualifiers. Not sure who gets called in to replace him at this point.

  15. MikeG says:

    I hope Klinnsman’s actions are the same as his words with regards to playing regular games. No preferences. He has his standard and if someone like Shea is not getting regular games he is not called in. Shea did it to himself so it should be a easy choice for Klinnsman. Using Shea as an example because he is buddy buddy with Klinnsman.

    • Gary Page says:

      How did Shea do it to himself? He was injured by a bad tackle in a pre-season game against the Union I think it was. Anyway, he probably won’t even be match fit by the next qualifier so it is probably academic.

    • Clyde Frog says:

      He said it’s an important factor. He didn’t say, and has never said, that under no circumstances should someone not getting regular minutes on their club EVER get called in.

    • GW says:

      “You always have to make some compromises here and there, especially based on what a specific game demands. Having said that, it’s crucial that the guys have their minutes in their legs and are ready for those types of intense games.”

      Those are JK’s words and they give him room to manuever on the question of playing time. Coaching is always a compromise, I don’t know why people are so strident about holding coaches to their supposed “word”.

      • Bac says:

        Exactly… plus he says something like you have to be flexible at the beginning of a season and not go into panic mode either….
        People are making too daggum much of this

        At this point his “difficult” decisions are about rounding out the 23 and who he wants to continue to take a look at, and who is prime subs will be with 10 guys carrying yellow… NOT the core spine of the team
        Deuce is getting called
        Donovan is getting called
        The A guys are getting called
        Period

  16. bob says:

    I want to see this starting lineup for the WCQ:

    GK: Howard

    RB: Cameron
    CB: Besler
    CB: Brooks
    LB: Fabian Johnson

    RW: Zusi
    CM: Bradley
    CM: Jones
    LW: Donovan

    CAM: Deuce
    ST: Jozy

    Cameron should start at RB he plays there with his club and starts in the epl. Evans plays CM makes zero sense to keep playing him at RB. I like Brooks better than Gonzo or Goodson.

    With a long time til the World cup there is still a lot of fluidity in the lineup. Players like Shea or Agudelo could play well for stoke. Timmy Chandler could back into the picture. Dolo could get healthy and start playing. Injuries always happen.

    • Jordy says:

      This.

    • Jess says:

      As long as LD and Dempseycakes switch off.

    • Dave From Charlotte says:

      That’s a very nice line up. My two quibbles are Zusi and Jones. We need Fabian at LW, which pushes Zusi to a reserve because I would slot Donovan on the right. Additionally, at this point, LB is still Beasley’s to lose.

      With Jones…he just doesn’t click with Bradley. Said another way, we don’t get the best out of Bradley with Jones on the field. I know, I know…he plays for Schalke, CL, etc, but Bradley had some great performances with Cameron in the midfield. The only exception to this is if Klinsi deployed a 4-1-3-2 with Jones as the destroyer classic ‘6’, Bradley in front Donovan / Fabian out wide and Deuce/Jozy up front. In every other formation, I would pair Bradley with someone else who quite honestly is TBD at this point (Cameron if Evans or someone else solidifies RB, or Sacha, ?).

      • Left Wing says:

        I agree with your correction. Plus AJ and Brooks will be starting in Brazil.

      • Chris says:

        Klinsmann apparently can’t play with Jones as a classic “6,” because nobody can get him to play his possession and keep in a defensive position. Jones thinks he’s above his role in the team and that he should be free to roam wherever he likes, but that shackles Bradley – one of our best creators – because he then has to slot back and cover defensively when Jones is out of position.

        Jones is a stellar athlete and has a tremendous amount of talent, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best option we have to pair with Bradley in the middle of the field. If Cameron isn’t starting at RB, he looked good at CM this summer (and occasionally plays there for Stoke), and after Beckerman’s performance in the Gold Cup, I’d say he might be a better and more consistent option. Either of them would be more reliable than Jones, if not necessarily as talented in absolute terms.

  17. AlexH says:

    I’m not really a formation savy guy but it seems to me that the US has depth at forward, midfield and (if Brooks declares for the USA) center back, but issues at left and right back. So why not deploy a 3-5-2? If you deploy Cameron as the RCB and Fabian as the LM then you also have the option of rotating the formation to traditional back 4 with Fabian as the LB and Cameron as the RB should the 3-5-2 not pan out.

    • YesItsNate says:

      As a former player and coach I can tell you that the 3-5-2 is an idealist formation, much like the 3-4-3, but even more of a unicorn.

      The formation leaves you very susceptible to being punished on the wings when you lose the ball in midfield – or on the counter-attack when midfielders will pull out of position to support the possession of the ball.

      The 3-5-2 can be used effectively in the lower and youth levels – but really at the upper levels of professional & international soccer it’s a formation that’s asking for punishment down the wings when you lose possession.

      It’s a formation best used in FIFA where you can rely on players to play on their best form every game and can rely on their computerized attributes to cover for the spaces the formation leaves as players shift/fatigue/lose focus or simply get caught up in the game.

      • Paul says:

        Nate, do you consider Juventus an elite professional club?

      • GW says:

        A lot depends on the quality of the back 3 and the 2 outside wingbacks. The idea is to flood the midfield and keep possession. Juve have the players with the skill and discipline to do that.

        The US beat Mexico in the 2002 World Cup with a 3-5-2.

        Lineups: USA: 1-Brad Friedel; 3-Gregg Berhalter, 23-Eddie Pope, 22-Tony Sanneh; 4-Pablo Mastroeni (16-Carlos Llamosa, 92+), 7-Eddie Lewis, 10-Claudio Reyna (Capt.), 5-John O’Brien, 21-Landon Donovan; 20-Brian McBride (13-Cobi Jones, 79), 15-Josh Wolff (8-Earnie Stewart, 59). Subs Not Used: 6-David Regis, 9-Joe-Max Moore, 11-Clint Mathis, 14-Steve Cherundolo, 17-DaMarcus Beasley, 18-Kasey Keller, 19-Tony Meola. –

        That team had a back three, Pope, Berhalter and Pablo who were very good , especially Pope who was maybe the best US CB ever, even now.
        And Sanneh and Lewis were very good wingbacks. Overall they were a pretty fast team with Donovan, Wolff and Cobi and Reyna, OBrien and Stewart were pretty good with the ball.
        I don’t know that the current USMNT have those kind of guys or a Chiellini like Juve has.

        • P says:

          Yes, of course the quality of those players is the key, and I agree with you that this USMNT group is not well suited to play with 3 in the back. That was not my point. I simply could not let someone comment that a 3 back system is an idealistic, video game system.

          Top teams all over the world are lining up with 3 in the back or playing tactically flexible systems where a central midfield player rotates into the back line as fullbacks join the attack. It’s the logical development when so many teams set out in a 1 forward system or don’t even use a traditional #9.

      • louis z says:

        to me a team that needs to play 3-5-2 is a team that already conceded the possession game and is just looking for the counter. I don’t think JK is going to let the team revert to those times, this team is too good for that.

    • MN Footie says:

      I endorse this conversation.

      But yeah, I think I agree that a 3-5-2 wouldn’t work for our squad. If we had backs who were in the “best in the world” conversation, then I would love to try it. But we don’t, and I agree with YesItsNate.

      Great question though.

  18. Chris says:

    my starting 11-
    ——–Donovan——Altidore—————-
    —Dempsey—————————–Zusi-
    —————Jones——-Bradley———–
    F. Johnson-Besler-Gonzo-Chandler–
    ———————Howard———————-

    bench-Guzan, Rimando, Cameron, Goodson, Beasley, Evans, Beckerman, Diskerud, Torres, Bedoya, Johannsson, EJ.

    I could see evans starting over chandler, and on the bench kljestan over diskerud and wondo over EJ

  19. Hush says:

    Zusi personally is a clown imo like Sasha. I don’t rank him higher than Bedoya, Corrona, Disk, or Shea on the wing. Zusi kicks 20 balls into the danger area, maybe two get in, not good enough for me. I’m not sure what anyone sees in this guy. Maybe his 46 defensive skills are decent, but not Tiki futbol. I put Donovan on the right with AJ & Jozy up front. AJ can hold e ball better and can spread around, no need to have wack Zusi on the roster taking up oxygen from others.

    • ThatKidNandez says:

      +100

    • John says:

      It took all of about 25 minutes of Donovan playing on the right during the gold cup to see it wasn’t working. You need someone who is going to stay wide and create a threat from the wing. Even if only 2 out of 20 go in (actually sounds like a pretty good rate to me) it pulls defenders wide creating place for everyone else in the middle.

      • GW says:

        “John says: It took all of about 25 minutes of Donovan playing on the right during the gold cup to see it wasn’t working.”

        Others saw that differently.

        Donovan moved inside because Corona was not working out in the
        “Clint role”.

        Joe Benny was more comfortable on the outside and LD was much better at leading the team from the middle, as you might have noticed if you were paying attetnion.

        I like Zusi but I have a hard time thinking he could have improved much on the guys who played his role in the Gold Cup.

      • Gary Page says:

        Donovan played right wing at Everton and if my memory is correct, his last stint there he had 5 assists in 9 games.

    • Neruda says:

      Zusi is better than you say. Anyways it doesn’t matter what we think because klinsmann will choose his roster and Zusi will be on it for the sept WCQ.

    • Left Wing says:

      I agree. Maybe not with the same conviction.
      I just don’t see Zusi being quick enough.
      Bedoya is the dark horse if Landon, Dempsey etc dont play there.

    • louis z says:

      When someone describes a futból player as a “clown” I tend to take their opinion with a grain of salt. JK choice while LD was gone was Zusi, now that LD is back and the performance of Bedoya I think it will boil down to who can match up better, in a game where the opponent is looking to push, I think JK will go with someone that can defend the best, for me, that is Bedoya.

  20. Gary Page says:

    This site amazes me in several different ways. One is people who make sweeping generalizations about players and claim with certainty that player A is much better than player B and Klinsmann doesn’t know what he is doing, or something similar. There is a whole lot that goes on in determination such as even attackers playing defense (why Adu is going nowhere), how well they integrate into the team, how well they practice, and a whole lot of things, most of which the average fan is not aware of. The other thing is the obsession with the best formation and the intricacies of each proposal. Personally, I think that is way overblown. Choosing the right players and putting them in the best position to succeed is way more important, IMO. All this speculation on who will go to Brazil is also meaningless as history has shown how big a part injuries play in team selection. All this early speculation is pointless. Finally, it amazes me how some people are so quick to throw some players under the bus and anoint others off of one or two good performances. I think this love of Johannson is a great example of the latter. Here’s some perspective. In the 2006 World Cup Luionel Messi was only a little younger than Johannson is now and was already a star at Barcelona. Messi only started one game at the 2006 WC. Now I know it is not comparable, but if the best player in history is mostly a WC substitute at 19, it’s a little ridiculous to expect Johannson to star in Brazil in 10 months.

    • louis z says:

      You had me until you started your “In the 2006 world cup”
      If is not comparable why are you bringing it up?
      And by the way, Johannsson is 22 not 20 and he is already starting his 4th professional season. Somehow you think he just stepped out of a provincial bus in to the big city.
      Look, we all know he doesn’t have the credentials of a Dempsey or of any of the starting 11 but lets face it, the kid is not playing like a junior leaguer. In fact, his current game is already a lot more developed than some of our starting 11. I’m all for him getting token minutes now, but because he has been constantly playing the same way for over a year, I just don’t see him riding the pine for very long. With that in mind, is not too advantageous to say he will probably be starting in Brazil. There is a reason why JK has been after this kid.

    • Nate says:

      great post, Gary. I have to admit that I’m star struck about Johannson, but its good to have some overall perspective. I think US fans are still caught up in the Bob Bradley mentality, where national team call ups were rare, which implied much starker differences in player abilities. Because US fans were used to seeing the same guys suiting up, we assumed that others simply did not have the quality. EJ and DMB are good examples…During the Bradley era, guys like John Harkes and many US posters were calling to write these guys off the national team forever. JK, in contrast, understood that they have a certain set of qualities that can benefit the team (even if it is not necessarily for the World Cup). I also like the fact that he challenged guys like Bradley and Donovan. While players have certainly improved over the last cycle, JK has taken the correct approach in being less conservative about who receives call ups.

      • GW says:

        “some overall perspective. I think US fans are still caught up in the Bob Bradley mentality, where national team call ups were rare, which implied much starker differences in player abilities. Because US fans were used to seeing the same guys suiting up, we assumed that others simply did not have the quality. EJ and DMB are good examples…”

        Perspective is best when it is allied with the facts.

        1. Callups were rare?? BB, I believe, still holds the record for most new caps issued meaning he gave lots of players chances, Unfortunately a lot of them were inadequate.
        2. I may have missed a few but JK gave first time caps to Fabian, AJ, Besler, Sean Johnson, Beltran, Zusi, Everyone else was capped under BB. Corona was first capped by JK, but BB was going to call him up the day he was fired.
        3. EJ’s revival started under Sigi Schmid. When he moved to Europe he bounced around and basically lost his confidence and did not get it back until he moved to Seattle, after BB was gone from the US. JK is benefitting from Sigi’s good work. EJ had no business being on the USMNT during the BB years.
        4. DMB spent most BB’s tenure injured and out of form. The move to Mexico has revived his form and his USMNT career.

        JK is doing a great job with the best of BB’s left overs and the guys who were in the picture and are now maturing (Cameron, Guzan, MB90, Shea, Torres, Castillo, Corona, etc.). I thought BB was a fine manager but it is also apparent that a change was in order and JK is certainly the right guy for the times.

        As they say, in life timing is everything and JK took over just when the US talent pool was just beginning to expand and deepen.
        If you are saying BB was inappropriately more conservative than JK about calling in new talent and using AJ as an example, I would point to Charlie Davies. He got hot in Sweden, a far less competitive league than Holland’s or Denmark’ and then was worked in when Conor Casey proved to be less than all had hoped he would be. Giving him a cap was riskier than capping AJ.

        • louis z says:

          I see it different, BB’s numbers are inflated because he had 5 years at the helm. JK is barely going on 3. Some of his “leftovers” or my word “rejects” did go on record that they felt they didn’t get a fair trial when they got an invite, while other players had numerous times to fail before BB finally gave up on them, in Bornstein case, he never gave up on him. Sometimes a coaches “hit and miss” can only be evaluated when the next coach reinvents the player.
          True all coaches have their favorites that at times come back to bite them. In BB case it was Bornstein, in Porter case it was his love for his college players, i.e. Bunbory. JK so far, will give you a fair chance but if you don’t perform he has no problem sitting you, hence, Jozy, LD, Chandler. One could only wonder what BB would do. The other thing I noticed, JK had more players tried from lower division to national than BB.

    • GW says:

      Mr. Page,

      If people did not do what you are describing the number of posts on SBI would decline by about 80%

      Re Johannsson, JK has been on record for a very long time as being very interested in him.

      US fans tend to forget is that even though Johannsson spent a school year ( 2007-08) at IMG in Florida, he is a European product and 22 is about when they usually start to show whether they will make it or not.

      In the end it always comes down to individuals and right now Johannssen’s apparent skills and his makeup seem to fit perfectly with the kind of team JK wants to build.

      So, while it is always best to have as large a sample size as possible, this may well be a case of a round peg for a round hole.

    • AlexH says:

      Gary, chill out. Second guessing the coach is what fans of a sport do for every sport mainly because it is entertaining. Be happy that soccer has reached a point that there are throngs of people that find that talking about soccer is more important than playing with their kids, getting out of their pajamas, going to church and bathing.

  21. Beto says:

    You got one thing right; the transfer window going into the season is annoying! Jurgen has it right end it before the season starts

  22. tom behr says:

    I side good naturedly with those who point out the silliness of fans speculating about what a coach like JK actually thinks or means based on public statements. None of us knows how JK really feels about Dempsey’s move to MLS unless he makes a definitive statement — and he hasn’t. Same thing with the “fairness” argument of how he applies selection criteria such as in form playing time in picking a team, or actually recommending a formation and strategy.

    But as fans, we love to speculate, debate, and pretend we’re coaches — and so long as it’s not personally offensive or mean-spirited, where’s the harm? People can’t help speculating and dreaming about the future – otherwise we’d still be living in trees and eating berries.

    I do struggle with the debate about “kids” like JAB and AJ based on their current playing experience and even where they play. JK will select the world cup team six months or so from now. That’s a lot of time. He and his staff are experienced pros. They know the level of play in various leagues and how to make the assessment of how a player’s work in their level of competition might translate into the fever pitch of World Cup play.

    USMT Fan’s top 23 is a pretty good list for now (although how wonderful that we can be debating these spots!) But what does Deuce’s play look like in March? Or Johannsson’s? Or Dolo’s? or (gasp) even Bocanegra’s? Who’s healthy and whose hurt (remember Gooch and Charlie Davis)? As for that Great Myth Chandler, JK does have a way of getting players’ attention. Just ask Jozy and Landon.

    Now to stir things up, am I the only one who imagines Mexico might actually be finally getting their act together? Columbus could be a very tough, interesting and important game.

    • Bitman says:

      Maybe Mexico is getting their act together. But if it’s an important game, it’s likely to be because if Mexico loses, they’re in danger of missing the WC. Even if we tie Costa Rica and lose to Mexico, we’re still likely to beat Jamaica at home and secure a spot with an extra game to boot.

      Ideally, we beat Costa Rica and then come in as confident as a team can, ready to deal the death blow to El Tri. How sweet would that be?

      • GW says:

        The vital match for Mexico is the first one, Honduras.

        El Tri have four games left and need at least 8 points to get to 16 the so called magic number

        If they lose to Honduras, they need to sweep the next three. If they tie Honduras they need to at least tie the US. If they win they can afford to lose to the US if they sweep the last two.

        Regardless, if they lose to Honduras, Chepo will get canned and they will probably show up in Columbus and play like their hair is on fire. Or at least they should for their sakes.

        • Long Time Listener says:

          agreed, 100%

          and I am laughing giddily (almost maniacally) to myself at the thought of a desperate Mexico playing like their hair is on fire.

          Or maybe it’s the thought of playing a desperate Mexico, 11 men on the pitch with their hair actually on fire

          I just picture them running about like supercharged madmen with crazy bug eyes and those slick hairdos ablaze, just with no order or will to do anything apart from buzz around. LOL

          Their so toast, I can’t wait.

  23. Lost in Space says:

    It is clear that there are some very difficult decisions to be made by JK and his staff ahead of the September & October Qualifiers. And IMO it is only going to become more difficult over the next 10 months. There is some real quality and depth in the USNT player pool…enough that there are going to be some very talented players who are going to be on the outside looking in come June 2014.
    Goal Keepers:
    Howard, Guzan, Rimando, S. Johnson, Hamid, Hall
    Defense:
    RB: Evans, Cameron, Chandler, LIchaj, Parkhurst, Orozco
    CB: Besler, Gonzalez, Goodson, Cameron, Brooks, Orozco
    LB: F. Johnson, Beasley, Castillo, Lichaj
    Midfield:
    Wings: Donoavan, Zusi, F. Johnson, Shea, Bedoya, Corona, EJ,
    CM: Bradley, Jones, Cameron, Diskerud, Kljestan, Edu, Williams, Beckerman
    Forwards:
    Dempsey, Jozy, Johannsson, Boyd, Gomez, Agudelo, E. Johnson

    There are always those who make a late push or get on a hot run of form that I’ve not listed/included. But it is clear that there are going to be some very good players left home come June of 2014.