Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has finally earned some praise after keeping a consistent lineup throughout the group stage with some positive results. But with DeAndre Yedlin serving a one-game suspension for his red card against Paraguay, Klinsmann is forced to dip into his reserves for the upcoming knockout match against Ecuador on Thursday night.
Just after halftime, Yedlin was given a yellow card for a hard challenge in which he appeared to win the ball. He was really unfortunate to be cautioned there, but what he did just a few moments later was just pretty senseless. He definitely slips, but that is because he went into the challenge out of control and he was rightfully shown the second yellow and the ensuing red.
Another look at the two fouls that led to DeAndre Yedlin's red card. #USAvPAR #MyCopaColors https://t.co/Ub9OxxNQS7— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 12, 2016
Jurgen has a few options here. We all know the lineup has been a carousel and plenty of guys have experience playing
in the wrong position multiple positions, so let's take a look a few possibilities.
He is first on this list for a reason. This most likely what we will see on Thursday as it would allow Jurgen to keep consistency throughout the rest of his lineup. Orozco was brought on for Clint Dempsey to hold the lead with ten men last match, so we know Jurgen trusts his defensive form at the moment. The 30-year-old Tijuana defender has played the position for the USMNT and understands the system. However, he was the backup to Yedlin for a reason. Orozco only had nine appearances for Tijuana in 2016 and he would almost certainly be a focal point for the Ecuadorian attack. Jefferson Montero proved to be as much as Yedlin could handle in their pre-Copa friendly, so it would be interesting to see Orozco face the pacy winger.
Another option for Jurgen would be to switch Fabian Johnson over from left back. Fabian has played a number of positions for Jurgen and could very well shift over without changing too much. It would actually allow him to send in crosses with his natural right foot.
Klinsmann then has a couple options at left back. After the tuneup match in KC, Jurgen answered in detail this exact question. He had just started Matt Besler at left back and was asked if he would be comfortable starting him there in the Copas. "Absolutely. Very comfortable. That is why he played there tonight," Jurgen said. But he quickly mentioned the pending arrival of Edgar Castillo. He says he is confident in both to fill in at left back, it will just depend on the opponent. He'll go with Besler if he needs a "pure defender" who "can get the defensive job done." If he wants an "attacking minded left back" he'd go with Castillo.
Geoff Cameron has played right back several times and been the solid defensive player he is. But I was hesitant to even include him on the list and put the idea into the universe. This would likely mean Besler fills in at center back. The Cameron/Brooks center back pairing has done a fantastic job, especially holding onto a one goal lead with ten men for an entire half. It would be a travesty to break this up right now.
After all of Klinsmann's tinkering, he gave himself several options which is obviously a large reason he did it. All options are worth looking at as he could choose to protect any of the players already on yellow cards. However after that match in Kansas City he eerily predicted this very situation ... and he told us exactly what he would do with his full backs.
"It's important we know, OK, if it's needed. Whatever happens, two yellow cards, a red card." Jurgen predicted. "On the left side, there is Matt always ready if it's needed, on the right side there is Michael Orozco to jump in there as well."
There you have it. Two yellows and a red on the right, he's got Orozco. But let's be honest, you never know with Jurgen.
Can Orozco handle Montero? Does Klinsmann risk that for consistency everywhere else?