Changes Jurgen Klinsmann Must Make for U.S. vs. Cuba
Tuesday night in Portland, the United States men's national team easily stormed past Belize in a 6-1 victory in front of an impressive crowd at Jeld-Wen Field.
Now, the United States has to switch their focus to Saturday's match at Rio Tinto Stadium against Cuba, who lost to Costa Rica 3-0 in the other Group C match in Portland.
While most of the starting 11 delivered strong performances on the pitch Tuesday night, there were a few weak spots that manager Jurgen Klinsmann should address for the Cuba match.
The most obvious change that Klinsmann must make comes in the midfield where Stuart Holden needs to be put in the starting lineup and test his fitness for a full 90 minutes.
Holden replaced Kyle Beckerman at halftime of the Belize match and his 45 minutes on the pitch showed Klinsmann and the fans of the United States that he is very close to being his former self.
Beckerman was handed the starting role in the lone holding midfield position in a 4-1-3-2 formation that was new for Klinsmann to use. He usually employs a 4-2-3-1 formation with two holding midfielders.
While a change in formation for the Cuba match is not needed, a change in personnel in the midfield is.
Beckerman did little to impress anyone Tuesday night with his assist on Chris Wondolowski's second goal being his only highlight.
In the second half, Holden made Klinsmann forget about the poor outing that the Real Salt Lake midfielder had by linking up well with Landon Donovan, who will most likely be the Most Valuable Player of the tournament at this rate.
Holden's inclusion in the starting 11 has to be mandatory after he starred in Portland and if that means a shift back to the 4-2-3-1 to still include one of Klinsmann's favorites in Beckerman, then it must happen.
If a 4-2-3-1 with Beckerman and Holden in it is employed by Klinsmann, Joe Corona would most likely be the man on the outside looking in.
Both Mikkel Diskerud and Jose Torres had strong matches against Belize and it would be wise of the German manager to keep both of those players in the starting 11 by all means necessary.
As for the part of the squad that got little attention Tuesday night, the defense, a change will probably happen at either center-back or right-back or both.
Michael Orozco Fiscal's appearance alongside Clarence Goodson at center-back was seen as an appointment made because of the turf in Portland that would have affected Oguchi Onyewu had he started.
Although Orozco Fiscal did score a goal in the second half of the Belize match, Onyewu should receive the starting gig at center-back for the Cuba match.
Onyewu not only has international experience at the position but he is also a valuable asset on set pieces and for him to be in form for the Costa Rica match Tuesday in Hartford, he must start on Saturday.
The only other change that would be welcomed by American supporters is a switch at right-back.
Michael Parkhurst had a less-than-convincing defensive performance at right-back as he stood still on the set piece that created a wide open goal that was scored by Belize's Ian Gaynair.
If Parkhurst were to be removed from the lineup, Tony Beltran would be the man who would get the start.
If you look deeper into the potential move at right-back it could be the perfect scenario for Beltran, who calls Rio Tinto Stadium his home pitch during the Major League Soccer season.
As we all have learned by this point in the Klinsmann era, the unexpected is expected when the starting lineup is announced before a match.
But if you were to expect any changes from Klinsmann, the three stated above would make the most sense.
What changes do you think Jurgen Klinsmann should make for the Cuba match?
Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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