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Assessing USMNT options: No Jones, no Bedoya, no Wood, no big problem?

United States v Ecuador: Quarterfinal - Copa America Centenario

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 16: Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States reacts after Michael Arroyo #11 of Ecuador knocked Matt Besler #5 (on ground) over during the 2016 Quarterfinal - Copa America Centenario match at CenturyLink Field on June 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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The United States men’s national team has reached its goal of the Copa America Centenario semifinals, where it will meet either Venezuela and Argentina, but Jurgen Klinsmann has three big questions to answer when it comes to his lineup.

While DeAndre Yedlin returns at right back from his red card suspension, yellow card accumulation and a red card will cost the USMNT three mainstays: Bobby Wood, Alejandro Bedoya and Jermaine Jones.

Two of three have been very good in this tournament and the third, Bedoya, has been far from poor.

[ USMNT: Match recap | 3 things | Player ratings ]

So what might we see Tuesday in Houston? Let’s begin with an idea of how effected the formation is without moving anyone around:

Yedlin -- Cameron -- Brooks -- Johnson

XXXX -- Bradley -- XXXX

XXXX -- Dempsey -- Zardes

That’s a problem on both sides of the pitch, but specifically on the right (even if Zardes, Wood and even Dempsey swap sides regularly). And it tempts Klinsmann to fall into old habits, like moving Yedlin up the field.

The truth is that likely opponent Argentina can destroy a team whose fullbacks get caught too high up the pitch, and both Yedlin and Johnson are designed to bomb forward and provide service. Is there a chance Klinsmann goes ultra defensive by moving both up?

In the past, we’ve seen him arguably play four center backs in a flat back four. It could look like this:


Besler -- Cameron -- Brooks -- Castillo

Yedlin -- Bradley -- Beckerman -- Johnson

Zardes -- Dempsey

He’s going to do this, isn’t he?

It seems a bit bonkers, more so when considering that fan outcry for the entire group stage -- and beforehand, really -- has been to see more Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe.

Those are two players with questionable defensive acumen and little experience on the stage, but let’s humor the discussion.


Yedlin -- Cameron -- Brooks -- Johnson

Zusi -- Bradley --Nagbe

Zardes -- Dempsey -- Pulisic

Even with the knowledge that, again assuming Argentina, Lionel Messi is playing in a roving role for his country, can you imagine him setting up shop on Nagbe’s side, right or left, and tormenting the midfielder and whichever back is behind the Portland Timbers man?

[ MORE: Dempsey living “what you dream about as a kid” ]

Klinsmann and his staff will have learned from the Colombia match, and at least start the game with phasers set to “stifle”. We may even see Michael Bradley advanced in the formation without really adding too much attack into his responsibility.

If Venezuela managed a stunning upset of Argentina, the Yanks will be absolutely thrilled to take the game to La Vinotinto. Venezuela has scored two goals just twice going back to last year’s Copa America, and those occasions were against Peru and Bolivia (a draw and a loss!). Life doesn’t work well for Venezuela when the game opens up, and Klinsmann could look to spring attacks like this


Yedlin -- Cameron -- Brooks -- Johnson

Beckerman -- Bradley

Zusi -- Nagbe

Zardes -- Dempsey

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