First it was crowdsourcing. Then it was crowdfunding. The next trend is certainly crowdcoaching. Can the Stars and Stripes community put together a better lineup than Bruce Arena? We recently reached out the community to select the best USMNT lineup. Two weeks ago the staff put together their best lineup for a one match must-win situation and the community also chimed in. I busted out the abacus and crowdcoached the absolute best lineup from all of the votes. That way this lineup can compare to the one created solely by the community. In this case comment votes counted the same as staff votes. In the end there were some very close debates about who should play and where.
One of the many close calculations was whether or not the best formation has two forwards or one. The single striker system one by a slim margin which means we’ll be dealing with some form of a 4-5-1 formation in this critical game, with details of that midfield still to be determined.
Three players received unanimous votes in a clear position. Bobby Wood was clearly the top choice at striker so he sits on top. DeAndre Yedlin the only right back selected and there wasn’t a peep on the topic. John Brooks was the lone center back to make the cut. There were a number of other players selected on all rosters but where they should play is up in the air.
Christian Pulisic was also unanimously voted on the team but the question that stood out is should he be on the right wing or in the center of the midfield. By one single vote the decision was place him on the right wing.
Where Fabian Johnson plays was one of the more discussed topics. Does he fill a big need at left back adequately enough or should he be more optimally used in the midfield? Again decided by a single vote, the decision was to use him at left back.
Near unanimous choices
Darlington Nagbe was a near unanimous choice in the midfield with a few votes for him on the right wing, but most of the votes had him on the left side. So there he will play.
Geoff Cameron from Stoke City was also a near unanimous choice but where he should play was subject to a heated debate, so hold onto Cameron for a bit.
Clint Dempsey was the next most popular choice, being on 80% of the teams, but he was evenly distributed between a forward position or one in the midfield. Since the one striker setup was voted for, Dempsey will play the 10 role, and while that’s not ideal it’s clear the U.S. will have to make some suboptimal choices in the lineup.
The Bradley discussion
Michael Bradley, USMNT captain and midfield anchor for years, was more often than not left off the starting lineup. It was close, but in the end the community believe Bradley should be replaced. The issue was there was no clear replacement lined up. The best option was Geoff Cameron but he didn’t receive as many votes as Bradley because he is deemed too important in central defense, paired with John Brooks. There was a big debate whether or not Omar Gonzalez could fill the void if Cameron moved up but in the end there was not enough support to supplant Bradley. Other options like Danny Williams and Kellyn Acosta didn’t receive enough votes either. So the embattled defensive midfielder survives and stays in his deep lying role. There was definitely a feeling of resignation related to this selection.
The last midfield role did go to Kellyn Acosta who will be paired with Bradley in what will be a 4-2-3-1 formation. Acosta was selected in about 40% of the teams, which was the lowest amount for a starter. The double pivot players are definitely question marks going into this must-win game.
We know that Brooks, Yedlin and Johnson are along the back line and the last selection is Geoff Cameron. That puts the back line at Johnson-Brooks-Cameron-Yedlin with near unanimous vote getter Tim Howard between the pipes. It’s worth noting that Jorge Villfana received a lot of attention for his play in the recent qualifiers and would have made the defense if Johnson had been voted to the midfield. However, the defense selected is without a doubt is the best the USMNT can do.
This is what the final lineup then looks like.
I hate to say this but this was precisely Rob Usry’s lineup in the original article. Here are the substitute with the most votes for the match.
Subs: Hamid, Altidore, Morris, Jones, Kljestan, Garza, and Villafana
Nominations are going on now to select a different lineup. Or will it be the same?