The United States faces a World Cup qualifier against Panama on Tuesday night that they will treat as a virtual must-win. Friday's win in Jamaica gives the U.S. a bit of wiggle room, but dropped points at home are never acceptable in the Hex. The USMNT is going to have to take all three without Jermaine Jones or Graham Zusi, as well as Landon Donovan, who probably would have been the best possible Zusi replacement if he'd been called into the team.
Unlike the training session before the Germany friendly, media was understandably not allowed to watch the bulk of training on Monday so Jürgen Klinsmann can keep his plans under wraps. There are no obvious natural replacements for Jones and Zusi available, so we're making stuff up here. I'm guessing based on Klinsmann's subs on Friday and his previous lineups.
Without any further ado, our best guess at Tuesday night's starting XI.
United States lineup (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard; DaMarcus Beasley, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Brad Evans; Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron; Eddie Johnson, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson; Jozy Altidore
The usual invented questions and statements follow.
Why can't we stop playing Eddie Johnson as a winger?
I have no clue. I don't like it either. I'd rather see Brad Davis, who is basically a less physically adept version of Zusi, out there instead. I think it's very possible that Davis could get the nod, but Klinsmann seems to like GAM on the wing.
Geoff Cameron isn't a central midfielder
Yes, but he was substituted in as one after Jones went down against Jamaica and didn't talk to the media yesterday for fear of letting something slip. The combination of those two events leads me to believe that he's going to start in the center of midfield.
DaMarcus Beasley looked shaky at left back again on Friday
I know, that's probably because he's not a left back. I'd like to see Fabian Johnson in that spot too. I actually really like Beasley and what he's done in Liga MX and am all for him starting as a winger. I have nothing against the guy. He's just not a very good defensive left back.