On Tuesday night, the United States Men’s National Team will begin its CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign, taking on Belize at JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Oregon.
The game comes just four days after the USMNT destroyed Guatemala 6-0 in a friendly to warm-up for the tournament.
Here is the best U.S. lineup to face Belize.
Nick Rimando didn’t have much to do against Guatemala on Friday night and, along with Clarence Goodson, made a hash of the one time he was needed on a Guatemalan through ball in the first half.
However, Rimando is still the most experienced goalkeeper on the roster and, ironically, the least prone of the three goalkeepers on the U.S. roster (Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson are the others) to make a howler due to poor decision-making.
Considering DaMarcus Beasley’s outstanding form over the past two months, there is no reason to think head coach Jurgen Klinsmann would bother making a change at left-back now.
However, considering Edgar Castillo’s less than impressive performances as a left midfielder, there is a slight possibility Klinsmann may want to give Castillo a full run-out at his more natural left-back position.
There are technically four players on the U.S. roster who can play center-back: Oguchi Onyewu, Goodson, Michael Parkhurst and Michael Orozco Fiscal. However, Goodson and Onyewu are the only two who regularly play in the middle at the club level.
Onyewu was challenged little against Guatemala and strong in the air. While he was a little unsure in possession, there is no reason to think Klinsmann will take Onyewu out of the lineup.
With Guatemala posing little offensive challenge last Friday night, Goodson enjoyed one of his best performances ever for the USMNT and was particularly strong contributing on the offensive side of things on the U.S. corner kicks.
Belize should be comparably weak on the attack, and Goodson should be more than capable of handling the duties against them.
Parkhurst didn’t have a particularly outstanding night against Guatemala. But considering that he hadn’t played a competitive minute for club or country since February, that can be forgiven.
With Fiscal and Tony Beltran long shots to make the World Cup roster, and Parkhurst a realistic contender to be the backup at right-back, Klinsmann should give Parkhurst as much game time as possible.
An added advantage of that strategy would be getting Parkhurst back into form to allow him to compete for more minutes with Augsburg once his club season resumes.
Although the U.S. has only one true holding midfielder on the roster in Kyle Beckerman, Stuart Holden and Mix Diskerud proved against Guatemala that the U.S. could do without one when they were the midfield tandem.
Against Guatemala, the U.S. was stagnant in the first half with Beckerman and Jose Torres. At half, Holden and Diskerud came on, and the U.S. attack exploded.
Holden was the Man of the Match against Guatemala and proved that after nearly two years of injuries, he is finally ready to reclaim the form that made him the Bolton Wanderers Player of the Year in 2011.
Coming into last Friday’s match against Guatemala, Diskerud, for all the hype and hopes of American fans, had only three total minutes of playing time in the Klinsmann era.
Getting his first real run-out under Klinsmann, Diskerud was terrific as a second-half substitute, marshaling the U.S. midfield. He put on a terrific display of technical ability, composure on the ball and creativity.
When the original Gold Cup roster was released, Brek Shea was not on it. Klinsmann explained that Shea was heading back to England in a bid to make his mark under new manager Mark Hughes at Stoke City.
However, after Josh Gatt was ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury, U.S. Soccer announced that Shea would be added to the roster for the tournament. While it’s a nice pickup for the U.S., especially after Shea’s play on Friday, it does raise questions as to how that will affect his club status—particularly important in a World Cup year.
With Shea staying with #USMNT, what does that say about how Stoke City rates him? If they're serious about him getting PT, wouldn't okay it— Yanks United (@YanksUnited) July 7, 2013
Shea is obviously not at the top of his game, as his technical ability is still rusty after a frustrating winter and spring full of injuries. But he did bring some much-needed energy to the U.S. attack against Guatemala when brought on as a sub.
Klinsmann would not have added Shea to the roster if he hadn't planned on using him; the only question now is if Shea is fit enough to start.
After a sizzling past few months with his club side, Helsingborg, Alejandro Bedoya has started to work his way back into the USMNT picture. Following the 2011 Gold Cup, many assumed that Bedoya would become a regular fixture in the U.S. lineup, but a disastrous club situation with Rangers saw him fall off the depth chart.
Joe Corona could also be given another shot at the right midfield position. But after a very average game against Guatemala, Bedoya should be given the opportunity to showcase what he can do over 90 minutes.
After a long exile from the USMNT, Landon Donovan returned to the U.S. lineup against Guatemala on Friday night and, after a slow start on the wing, played very well after being moved up top.
With few exciting choices at forward on the Gold Cup roster, Donovan’s performance against Guatemala, plus his experience, should earn him the nod.
Herculez Gomez did what he does best on Friday, following up a service into the box to score the game's opening goal.
As one of the most experienced players on the roster and after missing all of the USMNT games in May and June camp due to injury, Gomez should be given the start.