A change in formation and the addition of some new players may make the United States national team a dark horse for 2010.
Yes, a dark horse, and these are simple changes but some key things need to fall into place for them to contend.
For starters, the younger players in Europe Altidore and Freddy Adu need to be playing real matches—practice only goes so far.
Second a few players with European potential need to move over the summer Sacha Kijestan and Johnathan Bornsteam both need to join European clubs.
Next, the formation. Yes, the 4-4-2 works agents CONCACAF opponents Bob Bradley has been tinkering with players and formations slightly and what I saw in the Trinidad game was not a 4-4-2 it was more like a 4-3-3—Ching was in the middle, Altidore on the right, and Donovan on the left with Beasley overlapping Donovan.
Bradley may be on to some thing here. On the left side of the field Beasley is an excellent defender and with some coaching and some time and practice could develop into a very good left wing back.
The center of the defense is set, Bradley now needs to find depth for the positions because there is no one after that who could replace Onyewu and Bocanegrea level of play.
Right back will be an interesting battle, Heyduk will be on the World Cup roster but for experience and his ability to be a good dressing room guy. The battle will be between three players Cherundolo if he ever becomes fit again.
Bornstein has been MIA for the past couple of qualifiers but Bradley knows him well and let's face it he contained Lionel Messi for 45min not to many players in La Liga can say that.
Jonathan Spector is also in the mix, it depends on his fitness as well he needs to go through next season uninjured with West Ham next year. What we will see in the center of the midfield my be the best the USA has ever seen—with Maurice Edu shining at Rangers and Michael Bradley preforming at high levels for his club in Germany, the two holding midfielders look solidly locked down.
Dempsey is the wild card, I see him as the right wing but he also could be the attacking midfielder as well. I see the attacking midfielder job going to Jose Torres, not the star of Pachuca in Mexico, he brings a creative flair that has been lacking.
The formation I see from the USA after the dust has settled from 2009 is the 4-3-3. I think Bradley really discovered something from the end of the EL Salvador game and the Trinidad game and will continue to tweak the formation with new players until he is satisfied.
Here will be the starting 11 for the USA come 2010 in South Africa:
Landon Donovan Clint Dempsey
Michael Bradley Maurice Edu
DeMarcus Beasley Carlos Bocanegra Oguchi Onyewu Jonathan Bornstein
Yes, it's an attack-minded formation, but if they want they can bring in Kijestan or Mastroeni and have three holding midfielders and pack it in. Giving Donovan and Dempsey the ability to run at players would help the USA attack greatly.
2010 depends greatly on how much playing time the young stars get and can the veterans hold the great form and carry it over to next year. Bob Bradley will have plenty of games to play this summer and it will help prepare his side for 2010, and will allow him to tweak his line up and create some much needed depth in attack and defensively.