After just one match in the Bruce Arena 2.0 era, a prominent USMNT attacking player is voicing concerns about the tactics implemented by the second term manager. Jozy Altidore, who celebrated his 100th national team cap in a 0-0 draw against Serbia on Sunday says that the lone striker formation used by Arena for the match (and reportedly throughout all of January camp) isn’t his preferred setup.
"I think it’s no secret — for me, I’m better with kind of a partner up there," Altidore said. "I’m not a huge fan of a 4-3-3. It’s difficult. You need really dynamic guys to be able to play it. We’ll see how it goes."
U.S. Soccer’s official lineup release labeled the starting XI as a 4-2-3-1. However, no matter what you label it, a 4-2-3-1, a 4-1-4-1, or a 4-3-3, they all function the same with two wide players, three central midfielders, and a lone striker. Jozy’s claim that dynamic players are needed, especially on the wings, is a true one.
Darlington Nagbe exhibited a little bit of dynamism in the scoreless draw on the left flank, while Alejandro Bedoya’s two-way mentality lacked it on the right. The USMNT player pool as a whole might have the capability to play the 4-3-3 if you think of the options not available currently. Fabian Johnson, Christian Pulisic, and even Bobby Wood could flank Altidore in this type of setup and would qualify as dynamic.
Arena admitted that he’s not married to the lone striker formation and could opt to partner Jozy with someone else.
"He’s a No. 9 type of player, he can certainly do that," Arena said. "The key with Jozy is getting someone a little closer to him. That was (Sacha Kljestan's) job today, and (Darlington) Nagbe got close and sparked some combinations with him. We’ll still look at Jozy playing with another striker as well."
It’ll be interesting to see how Arena decided to line up for Friday’s friendly against Jamaica and if Altidore’s concerns are met with any adjustments up top.