The United States men's national team is facing Colombia in the third place match of the Copa America Centenario. The match is being played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The USMNT fell in the semifinal match to Argentina, 4-0. Three players -- Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, and Bobby Wood -- were suspended for the match.
Here's who I think Jurgen Klinsmann will utilize against Colombia:
It's going to be the 4-4-2 again. If it isn't broken (except against Argentina), then don't fix it.
Klinsmann already announced that Tim Howard will start in place of Brad Guzan. It's an interesting choice, and a top performance from Howard will set Twitter and the blogosphere ablaze with discussion.
The back line is probably going to experience a shake up. Klinsmann told reporters that Fabian Johnson and John Anthony Brooks have experienced a bit of wear and tear during the Copa America. I foresee Klinsmann selecting Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Geoff Cameron, and DeAndre Yedlin. Birnbaum has been pushing for playing time and Besler filled in admirably against Ecuador. The U.S. lineup could see Michael Orozco or Edgar Castillo, but they haven't been used as first- or second-choice options.
I'm not 100% sure of Jermaine Jones' status, but he's playing if he's eligible. Michael Bradley, Gyasi Zardes, and Christian Pulisic will also feature in the midfield. The third place match is the perfect time for Pulisic to gain more experience. It's a match without stakes, and wingers can generally be slotted into the lineup without much fuss (due to not being a part of the spine). It's likely that Alejandro Bedoya will start over Pulisic, but Klinsmann may get flexible in the tournament's final match. Maybe Darlington Nagbe will start if Jones is out. Maybe.
Bobby Wood and Clint Dempsey will renew their successful partnership at the top of the formation. If you don't like them, get used to them playing together because it's what you'll see through the 2018 World Cup.
Jason Davis, for U.S. Soccer Players, writes that there will be a complete return to the regular starting lineup (in a post that was published prior to Klinsmann's announcement):
This will inform how Klinsmann will lineup his team on Saturday. With Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, and Bobby Wood available, there’s no reason to think the head coach won’t go back to the lineup that found success against Costa Rica and Paraguay in the group stage. A 4-3-3 hybrid formation with Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks, and Johnson at the back, Jones, Bradley and Bedoya in the midfield, and Wood, Dempsey, and Zardes across the top helped the team to two wins in Copa America. If not for the suspensions picked up in the quarterfinal round, would have been on the field against Argentina on Tuesday night.
With the lower stakes of the third place game, there’s really no reason for Klinsmann not to give Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic a start to see what they can do from the beginning of a match against a quality opponent. That probably doesn’t mean much to the USMNT boss, however. With a chance at earning a little more respect and putting a small bow on their Copa America experience, expect Klinsmann to trot out a group he has shown he trusts.
While people want a complete shake up (i.e. Nagbe starting), I believe that Klinsmann is going to make a serious attempt at finishing in third place. Although most see third place matches as meaningless, it would be a nice thing to add to U.S. Soccer's resume.
You never know, maybe tonight we'll see a fantasy lineup that includes Nagbe, Pulisic, and whomever else you consider to be next in line for greatness.