USA vs. Belgium: Lineup projection

USA TODAY Sports

Will Jürgen Klinsmann treat the Belgium game as a true warm-up for World Cup qualifying, or take the opportunity to give some time to his fringe players?

The United States plays their first of two friendlies ahead of World Cup qualifying on Wednesday, when they take on Belgium in Cleveland. I do not want to hear Jürgen Klinsmann say that he's treating these five games like a five-game tournament. That didn't work out so well last time.

Below is our projected lineup for the game. Given that this is a friendly and some players who were called up aren't available yet, we're kind of spitting into the wind a bit. This is a guess at what Klinsmann will do, not a statement of who we would like to see.

United States lineup (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard; DaMarcus Beasley, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron; Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones; Eddie Johnson, Clint Dempsey, Graham Zusi; Herculez Gomez

football formations

Usually, I put guys I'm uncertain about in red font. I haven't done that this time around, because I'm uncertain about literally everyone. I am not sure how Klinsmann views this Belgium friendly. I would not be shocked to see the likes of Terrence Boyd, Stuart Holden, Sacha Kljestan and Michael Parkhurst get run-outs. The team above is what I am guessing Klinsmann's first choice team is at the moment, based on who is available. Having said that, let's dive in.

Ick, Eddie Johnson on the wing?

Yeah, I don't like it either. I could definitely see someone else getting a shot at left wing, but with Jozy Altidore not being released in time for this game, I think Herc goes up top and EJ comes in to fill his place. I'd rather see just about anything else.

Cameron at right back, not center back?

I can't break up the Gonzalez-Besler pairing that kept a clean sheet at Azteca. I think that averages out to two normal clean sheets. With Steve Cherundolo and Timothy Chandler out injured, I like Cameron to resume the role he's played at Stoke City for most of the season.

But I wanna see Stu Holden!

Yeah, me too, but he's probably not ready to start yet. I hope I'm wrong and he has a 90-minute blinder.

Sticking with Tim Howard?

I'm not sure what the team dynamic is like and how much a switch from Howard to Guzan would affect the locker room, but purely on form, I'd make the switch to Guzan. He's had a much better season in the Premier League and was better at the Azteca than we've seen Howard look in a couple of years. I don't think Klinsmann is going to strip Howard of the starting job, but I'd make the move if I was him.

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