The Untied States only needs a draw on Tuesday against Guatemala to sneak into the hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, thanks to their victory over Antigua and Barbuda on Friday. Wins are all that count in the end, but you'd be hard pressed to find a USMNT supporter who thought their team played well in their last match. Some changes are needed, whether they come in the form of personnel, formation, or other tactical changes.
Some players likely played their way into locked-in places for this match (Graham Zusi, Michael Bradley, Eddie Johnson), while a couple of others gave Klinsmann quite a bit to think about, or ruled themselves out entirely (Clarence Goodson, Herculez Gomez, Jermaine Jones). While there's unlikely to be any kind of major change in philosophy for the U.S., expect a slight change in personnel and formation on Tuesday.
Projected United States starting XI (4-4-2)
GK Tim Howard; LB Michael Parkhurst, CB Carlos Bocanegra, CB Geoff Cameron, RB Steve Cherundolo; LM Clint Dempsey, CM Danny Williams, CM Michael Bradley, RM Graham Zusi; ST Eddie Johnson, ST Alan Gordon
Once again: The formation is not a big deal
Please, don't berate me for calling this a 4-4-2 instead of a 4-3-1-2 or 4-2-2-2. It's more about the players. Clint Dempsey tries to do the same things whether he plays on the wing, as a midfielder or as a forward. Eddie Johnson started at left midfield on Friday, but looked nothing like a winger and scored two headers.
Having said that, it kind of matters sometimes, like when you're doing something insane
When I say "the formation doesn't matter", I'm assuming that each player is going to be put into one of 2-3 positions that makes sense. Johnson on the left wing makes no sense and is dumb. It should never happen again. Johnson is the reason the U.S. are not in a must-win situation and he had a very positive contribution to Sunday's game, but he would have had that same contribution (if not more) if he was a striker for the entire game. He's not a winger. This is crazy.
Is that why Clint Dempsey is listed at left wing?
Yes, but he'll cut in a lot even if he plays there. This brings us back to the whole "no width" problem, especially with Fabian Johnson out, but it's not like Johnson provided a lot of excellent wide play on Friday. I know Dempsey's best in the middle, but we don't have any wide players right now, so someone who is best in the middle needs to bite the bullet and play wide. I vote for the guy who's actually played left wing before.
You're seriously picking Alan Gordon to start?
Yeah, I am. He was excellent off the bench and Herculez Gomez had his worst game under Klinsmann on Friday. I still really like Herc, I think he'll keep getting games for the U.S., and I think he can be a very effective sub in this game. But he looked like a guy who hadn't been playing regular football on Friday, while Gordon was sharp.
Out of all the red players...
Most likely to not start: Alan Gordon - I could definitely see Klinsmann sticking with Herc.
Most likely to start in a different role than projected: Clint Dempsey - Obviously, since he hasn't started on the wing for quite some time.