Who should start for US national team vs. Mexico?
Following the loss of Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley and Matt Besler, the US national team have some serious revamping to attend to before Mexico arrive in Columbus on Tuesday.
The crucial CONCACAF World Cup qualifier sees Jurgen Klinsmann forced to reshuffle his pack as Altidore, Cameron and Besler are suspended, while Bradley misses out with an ankle injury.
One thing for sure is that Klinsmann has plenty of options against a fired up El Tri. So let’s try and guess which type of lineup he will go with to try and seal qualification in Columbus.
The tried and tested
With Geoff Cameron missing and Michael Orozco failing to impress at right back, it’s time to go with the experienced members of the US squad against Mexico. Michael Parkhurst could come in at right back, with Clarence Goodson at central defense and Kyle Beckerman in a holding midfield role. Those three players would add a reliability that was lacking in San Jose on Friday night and the USA’s defense would certainly be more stable and organized. However there could be a big issue in terms of lack of pace as Mexico favor a counter-attacking style in Columbus. All three aren’t going to set the world alight but you know exactly what you’re going to get. The safest option for Klinsmann but is it to cautious to deploy at home WC qualifier?
Youngsters to make a name for themselves
Ah, the young pretenders. Is this really the right environment to chuck in players that aren’t used to the hustle and bustle of a World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico? Maybe not. But why not surprise Mexico and start with Aron Johannsson up front and then play the likes of Mix Diskerrud, Joe Corona and Jose Torres in a three-man midfield. Most people would say you’re crazy for suggesting that, but those three midfielders played together at the Gold Cup in variations of that formation and proved to be a good solid unit. As for Johannsson, why not give him a chance from the start? With Jozy Altidore out the US should either go with Eddie Johnson or AZ striker Johannsson. We all know how good EJ is coming off the bench, so start with the Icelandic-American forward, see how he does and bring on EJ to grab the game-winner late on. Simple.
All-out attack, going for the win
The riskiest strategy for the US national team and one that I can’t see Klinsmann going for, but I’m gonna throw it out there anyway. How about starting with Eddie Johnson and Johannsson up front, with Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi all behind them and Jermaine Jones as the lone holding midfielder. This seriously attack minded 4-1-3-2 formation would scare the life out of Mexico and if the US score early with this approach they could sit back and defend their lead quite comfortably against a goal-shy Mexico side. You could counter balance the extreme attacking nature of this lineup with a backline of Parkhurst, Gonzalez, Goodson and Johnson and it should be fine. A risky option but who says Zusi, Donovan and Dempsey won’t track back to fight for the cause? They are all capable of putting in a two-way shift and also delivering moments of attacking panache that can win the game for the US and ultimately seal qualification to Brazil 2014. This gun-ho approach may work the best on Tuesday in Columbus.