Picking the Strongest U.S. Starting Lineup for Upcoming World Cup Qualifiers

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2012

Picking the Strongest U.S. Starting Lineup for Upcoming World Cup Qualifiers

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    The final two matches in the current round of World Cup qualifying are upon the United States. The U.S. travels to Antigua on the 12th and return home for a match against Guatemala on the 16th.

    Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann called 24 men to join the training camp for these matches:

    Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando

    Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron, Edgar Castillo, Steve Cherundolo, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson, Michael Parkhurst

    Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Joe Corona, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi

    Forwards: Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Herculez Gomez, Alan Gordon, Eddie Johnson

    With this group of 24, here is who makes up the strongest starting lineup for the final two matches using a 4-3-3 formation.


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    Goalkeeper: Tim Howard

    It probably does not get any more obvious than this. Tim Howard is the man to have between the posts.

    If you watch soccer, and the United States national team, you know of his abilities and importance to his team. He is a leader on and off the pitch, and one of the best goalies to have protecting the net.

    Should the U.S. go up by numerous goals, it might not be a bad decision to pull Howard and let him enjoy the game from the sideline while giving experience to his backup.

    Based on the United States' previous performances, he probably will not have that luxury.


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    Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Maurice Edu and Fabian Johnson

    With the importance of these two matches, and Howard needing all the help he can get, it is probably best to rely on your most experienced and talented.

    Bocanegra and Cherundolo have 192 matches between the two of them, and Edu and Johnson bring in much-needed athleticism to the backline.

    They are also a versatile bunch that can assist in the offensive production of the team.

    The all-around abilities of the back four give the U.S. the best chance for success against two inferior sides.

    They give Klinsmann more options to work with.


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    Midfielders: Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Danny Williams

    Michael Bradley is back and U.S. fans can rejoice, as he left a gaping hole in the midfield. Jones will also help hold down the midfield, but that leaves one more spot left.

    Between Shea, Williams and Zusi the midfield has a lot of options for that last spot in the 4-3-3 formation. After his performance against Jamaica, I feel Williams has earned it.

    With talent like Shea and Zusi on the bench, Klinsmann can make the proper adjustments and substitution if and when the time comes.

    The U.S. finally has a bit of flexibility with their roster.

    After the on-field play against Jamaica it is just a pleasure to see Bradley back. He proved how much he meant to the team, simply by being unavailable.


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    Forwards: Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Herculez Gomez

    Should Klinsmann go with a different formation, then Dempsey can easily move to where he is needed, but he was listed as a forward on the current 24-man roster so that's what we're going with.

    He is versatile and can fill needed roles.

    Dempsey and Donovan have to be out there in these important matches. That is a given. However, Gomez has been hot and earned his starting role with the team.

    Gomez's recent play puts him right in the mix of things.

    You have to ride the hot hand, or foot in this case.

    If the U.S. is able to play their game and push the pace then these three men have the potential to light up the scoreboard. That would truly be an exciting development if they were able to click on all cylinders.

    And with the defense having to gameplan for both Dempsey and Donovan, that can leave a lot of chances for Gomez on the table.