Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
It's tough to tell exactly what Jürgen Klinsmann is thinking about with his first-choice team heading into Wednesday's match. After the game, we'll have a much better idea of what to expect going forward in the Hex.
Some mixture of injuries, surging form of some players and dipping form of others has likely changed some of Jürgen Klinsmann's plans for the United States since they last played a competitive match.
Some MLS players have clearly played themselves into Klinsmann's plans since the fall, while Jozy Altidore has found his way back into the team. Landon Donovan isn't all the way back from his soccer sabbatical, Kyle Beckerman has been left in Salt Lake City, and Timothy Chandler has committed to the USMNT. It's a slightly different USMNT than the one who beat Guatemala to get to the Hex.
Without further ado, our lineup projection.
In the graphic below, the guys who I think are locks or near-locks to start are in black. Guys who I'm guessing about are in red.
Okay, there's a bunch to get to. Let's tackle some of this.
Does the formation matter?
No! The formation rarely matters with Jürgen Klinsmann's teams. They're going to play in a similar style whether the formation is 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-1-2, all of which he's used at some point. The team has quality central midfielders, but no serious creative players. They have no true wide players. Clint Dempsey will come deep to find the ball and move into the center whether he's a striker, attacking midfielder or wide player. So, don't freak out about this being 4-4-2.
Is this who you want to see, or who you think Klinsmann will pick?
Who I think he'll pick. I don't like Eddie Johnson as a winger, and I rate both Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler above Carlos Bocanegra at this point in his career. Sorry, Captain America, but the younger guys are much more athletic and in good form. I actually like Zusi as the attacking-most central player in a midfield three much more than I like him as a wide player, but he appears to be Klinsmann's first choice right winger at this point.
Does this team have enough creativity to break down Honduras?
I don't think so, the Catrachos' DMs are pretty good. This is why I predicted a 0-0 draw earlier.
Who in the black is most likely to not play?
Herculez Gomez, simply because Jozy Altidore's recent form has been very impressive. I think that Klinsmann is a big Gomez fan and less of a fan of Altidore, and I'm very confident that Gomez will get the start, but Klinsmann and Altidore might have developed a new understanding that we don't know about.
Who in the red is most likely to play?
Graham Zusi, simply because of the team's lack of wide players. Even if Klinsmann decides to go with a more narrow 4-3-1-2 or 4-4-2 narrow diamond formation, Zusi is the best right-sided central midfield shuttler in the team. He's in red because of the Danny Williams situation. Williams hasn't been in great form in the Bundesliga, but Klinsmann seems to like him a lot, so he could play anyway.
Who in the red is most likely to not play?
I'll go with Bocanegra, who might be handing his captaincy off to Tim Howard on a permanent basis for the Hex. He really is the fourth best player in the squad at his position, and Fabian Johnson's emergence and the improved form of Edgar Castillo in Liga MX means he's not a real option at left back anymore either. There are worse things than having your fourth central defender be a long-serving captain and vocal leader, even if he's not playing. Bocanegra has a place in the U.S. 23-man team during the hex, but sadly, I do not think it should be on the pitch as long as Gonzalez, Besler and Cameron are fit and in form. If he starts, I hope that he proves me wrong, because he's one of my two or three favorite players ever.