The United States men's national team lost its first match of the Hex, dropping a 2-1 decision to Mexico at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Now they're taking on Costa Rica in Costa Rica. It's hardly a must-win, but no country wants to begin a crucial round of qualifying in an 0-2 hole.
Jurgen Klinsmann threw out a bit of a surprise lineup and formation on Friday, using a 3-5-2 with Christian Pulisic in a free floating role. It wasn't the best decision, but on some level you have to respect the fearless nature of taking a gamble in a meaningful match against your rival. However, I don't think Klinsmann will be making any massive tactical shifts against Costa Rica.
Here's my guess at a starting lineup for tonight:
GK: Brad Guzan gets the start in goal because Tim Howard is injured. William Yarbrough is not getting thrown into a pressure situation like this, no matter how few minutes Guzan is playing at his club.
DEF: Your guess is as good as mine. Klinsmann seems to like having Matt Besler at fullback, and the extra cover won't hurt against Costa Rica. John Brooks can have the center back position for the next ten years. Omar Gonzalez is also the starter until Geoff Cameron comes back. I opted to slide DeAndre Yedlin into the right back position, but it could be Timothy Chandler again. I think Yedlin's speed could be an asset.
MID: Fabian Johnson at left wing provides cover and attacking prowess (and I have no idea, I'm just guessing at this point). Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones are the central midfield pairing. You don't like it, I'm not sure how I feel about it, but that's what it is. Bradley is still one of the U.S.' best center mids (it's a very thin position). Jermaine Jones is healthy enough to walk, which means he's in the lineup. Pulisic starts on the right side because he needs to play.
FWD: Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood played well together against Mexico. No need to mess with a good thing.
- Sacha Kljestan broke his nose in the New York Red Bulls' playoff match against the Montreal Impact. It's hard to start a guy who admitted he was having difficult breathing. Maybe he'll get a substitute appearance in the second half.
- I could possibly see a 4-2-3-1 that puts Bedoya in the lineup, but then you lose out on the Altidore-Wood partnership.
- MLSSoccer.com did a tactical preview that is much better than mine and probably has the correct starting lineup. Read it.