TAMPA, FL - JUNE 08: Forward Jozy Altidore #17, defender Clarence Goodson #21 and Maurice Edu #7 of Team USA celebrate victory over Team Antigua and Barbuda at the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 8, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Friday night's match was bad. The United States got off to a terrific start, put it on cruise control for the next 20 minutes, then proceeded to get outplayed by Jamaica for around 70 minutes. Too many things went wrong to mention all of them in this introduction. Whether they come in personnel, tactics or mentality, changes need to be made ahead of Tuesday night's match.
We already learned about one change that's going to be made. Jurgen Klinsmann has announced that Captain America will return after sitting out in Kingston. As for the rest of the lineup, it's anyone's guess. I qualify as 'anyone', so I'm going to take a guess.
Here goes nothing. Players in bold are considered locks to start the match.
Projected United States Starting XI (4-2-3-1)
GK Tim Howard; LB Fabian Johnson, CB Carlos Bocanegra, CB Geoff Cameron, RB Michael Parkhurst; CM Maurice Edu, CM Jermaine Jones; LM Jose Torres, CAM Clint Dempsey, RM Herculez Gomez; ST Jozy Altidore
Diagram and explanations after the jump.
Players in red are not considered locks to start.
So, you're telling me Kyle Beckerman is definitely out?
No, I'm just taking a guess. Beckerman was poor enough on Friday that I think he gets dropped, but Klinsmann obviously has a lot of faith in him to play him in this many games in the first place. No one should be stunned if Beckerman keeps his place.
Can the United States play this 11 and stick with a 4-3-1-2?
Yes, absolutely. I think that Jurgen Klinsmann will keep Beckerman in the team instead of Jose Torres if he wants to go that route, but I could absolutely see this being the starting XI in a completely different formation.
That's a lot of red
Yes, it is. Between the announced return of Carlos Bocanegra, the up in the air status of Steve Cherundolo, the fitness of Clint Dempsey and the poor play of just about everyone, it's not like we know what Klinsmann is going to do. He could have faith that the same XI that played poorly against Jamaica on Friday just needs a kick in the tail and another game together. He could make sweeping changes. Klinsmann hasn't been in this situation before, so we can't really predict what he's going to do.
Here's why I'm unsure about each projected starter in the red:
Michael Parkhurst - We called him our Man of the Match on Friday, but if Cherundolo is fit, he might get benched anyway.
Maurice Edu - Klinsmann could opt for a more attack-minded or technically adept player.
Jose Torres - He hasn't played well for the United States lately, and he's been playing as a pivot midfielder for Pachuca. The selection of Torres on the left is a guess at Klinsmann's team based on previous teams, not what I want to see. Hopefully, Klinsmann has learned that this isn't a great option.
Clint Dempsey - Simply because he looked dead tired at the end of Friday's match.
Herculez Gomez - If Klinsmann wants to go back to a lone striker, he might not believe in Gomez either as a winger or as a lone striker.
Jozy Altidore - He was very poor on Friday (not that he got any service), and Klinsmann has benched him before.
To elaborate a bit more on this, I felt like we needed to add a new section to this column.
Out of all the red players...
Most likely to start: Clint Dempsey - He's only listed as an uncertain starter because of fitness. If he's 90 minutes fit, he plays. He looked a bit tired late on Friday, but he might be fine. We'll find out when the lineup drops.
Most likely to not start: Jozy Altidore - Altidore hasn't been a lock to start under Klinsmann and wasn't good in Kingston, so he might be a casualty if Klinsmann makes major changes. Terrence Boyd might come in, or Gomez might play as a lone striker like he did in Guatemala.
Most likely to start, but in a different role than projected: Herculez Gomez - Whoops, should have thrown a spoiler alert on that last sentence. We're guessing that Gomez plays on the right. He's pretty close to a lock to start, but not in that role. He could play up top by himself or next to a strike partner.
Here's a quote from Klinsmann that scares the crap out of me
Via the New York Times: "You probably learn more when you get beaten than when you win games. Instead of keeping the ball and moving it around simply, we gave them opportunities and opportunities to get free kicks and they scored off of a free kick in the first half and the second half. I think the team has the opportunity on Tuesday to fix it."
This implies to me that Klinsmann does not think that the United States had serious problems beyond giving away possession in midfield and committing fouls on Friday, and that all will be corrected if they fix those two deficiencies in their game. If that is what he meant, then I am watching a different game than Klinsmann, and I am concerned that this team is always going to struggle to create scoring opportunities against decent sides.