Thursday, March 10, 2016

Proposed USMNT Lineup vs Guatemala

Still a couple weeks to go, but here's the Starting XI I'd like to see us go with against Guatemala:

GK - Brad Guzan - I know there were talks about alternating between Guzan and Tim Howard, but with Howard riding the bench at Everton and Guzan having regained his starting job at Aston Villa, I think Guzan gets the edge here.

Left Back - Jorge Villafaña - After winning a championship with the Portland Timbers, Villafaña has won a starting job in Mexico and recently contributed to Santos Laguna's back-to-back shutouts of the LA Galaxy while advancing to the CCL Semifinals. While Villafaña doesn't have a CAP with the USMNT, his high level of play should be rewarded, plus it allows Fabian Johnson to push into the attack.

Center Back - Matt Besler - Apologies to John Brooks, but the edge goes to the veteran Besler here even if he's not in midseason form. Plus, it makes sense for Brooks to head to Colombia to try and help the U-23s qualify for the Olympics.

Center Back - Omar Gonzalez - Gonzalez has done well since heading south of the border already becoming a valuable contributor with Pachuca. While the U.S. has lots of options at central defense, I feel like Gonzalez deserves the nod here.

Right Back - Geoff Cameron - The versatile Cameron has played well for the U.S. lately and by playing out right, instead of centrally, allows DeAndre Yedlin to join the U-23s in Colombia.

Left Midfield - Fabian Johnson - Arguably playing as good as any American in the world right now, I feel like Johnson is far more valuable in the attack than he is on defense. At a time when the U.S. has struggled to score goals, we need his attacking skills now more than ever.

Defensive Midfield - Michael Bradley - This probably is a reach since it dramatically changes the structure of the U.S. team, but Bradley played deeper in Toronto's opener against the Red Bulls and it worked out just fine. Plus, the U.S. has creative attackers that can fill that #10 role (Nguyen, Nagbe, etc) which allows the U.S. to put a more offensive-minded team on the field.

Attacking Midfield - Lee Nguyen - I love Darlington Nagbe, but Nguyen has been better for the U.S. lately, and his experience probably gets him the nod here. No doubt Nagbe makes the team, but the high-energy Nguyen should get the start.

Right Midfield - Alejandro Bedoya - Gyasi Zardes has been getting a lot of looks with the U.S., but Bedoya's in midseason form thanks to the European schedule so I think it's fair to say he's ahead of Zardes right now.

Striker - Jozy Altidore/Clint Dempsey/Chris Wondolowski - This one's tricky. Jozy is the clear cut starter when healthy, but he's not (hamstring again) and may not be ready when these games role around. Additionally, there are rumors that Dempsey is staying out of the National Team picture until this summer which means he might not be available either. If both of those two are out, I'll probably get flak for this, but I give the nod to Wondo. The veteran striker has a knack for scoring goals against weaker opponents (which Guatemala is) and he's already gotten on the board in MLS this season. We need goals, Wondo scores goals, so he's my third option.

Striker - Bobby Wood - Wood has been taking the 2.Bundesliga by storm ranking third in the league with 12 goals. Wood's red hot league play, coupled with his solid play for the U.S. gets him a start, no questions asked.

Subs - Tim Howard (GK), Mix Diskerud (MF), Gyasi Zardes (MID/FWD), Darlington Nagbe (MF), Jonathan Bornstein (DEF), Michael Orozco (DEF), Chris Wondolowski (FWD)*, Danny Williams (MID)**

*If Jozy or Dempsey Starts
**If Wondo Starts

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