10 Things USMNT Boss Jurgen Klinsmann Should Experiment with Before Copa America
In two years, the United States men's national team will face their biggest test since Brazil by hosting the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
The event will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the tournament, and it will contain six CONCACAF nations and all 10 CONMEBOL members.
With teams like Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico and Costa Rica expected to be coming to the States for the tournament, manager Jurgen Klinsmann must have his team playing at an extremely high level if they are to be successful.
Klinsmann will have plenty of matches to prepare for 2016 in the form of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and, presumably, some high-end friendlies.
Here are 10 things that Klinsmann must experiment with before the show comes to town in 2016.
Klinsmann may not get his hands on Darlington Nagbe until the end of 2015, but he will have a chance to figure out where the Liberia-born player will play for the national team during the first few months of 2016.
Nagbe, who plays for the Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer, is a dynamic playmaker that will bring an extra dimension to the American attack.
The University of Akron product can create chances on the wing and in the middle of the pitch, which is something few American wingers can do at the moment.
Keep Michael Bradley in the Defensive Midfield
As we saw in Brazil, Michael Bradley does not function well in an attacking-midfield role.
Bradley thrived in the defensive part of the midfield throughout qualifying, and he needs to be returned to that position on the pitch for the Yanks to succeed during the next World Cup cycle.
With Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman presumably falling out of the picture, Klinsmann will have to rely on Bradley to command the space in front of the back four during the four-year stretch that will see the Yanks play in a major tournament each summer.
Find Replacements for Jones and Beckerman
The good news about Jones and Beckerman is that they both could be available for selection in 2016 at the age of 34.
The bad news surrounding the duo is that they will most likely not last until Russia in 2018, which means Klinsmann has the difficult task of finding quality replacements.
Luckily for the manager, Bradley should hold down one of the two defensive-midfield spots in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but after him, the player pool could be sparse, especially if Geoff Cameron is playing in the back four.
That is where players like Wil Trapp of the Columbus Crew step into the picture, and the 2015 Gold Cup should be the perfect stage for the 21-year-old and others to audition in front of Klinsmann.
If Klinsmann needs a more experienced hand, he could call on Maurice Edu, who is just 28, to provide a veteran presence next to Bradley.
Find the Backups for Brad Guzan
Klinsmann has no shortage of goalkeepers to choose from over the next four years to fill in the two spots behind Brad Guzan on the depth chart, but he does need to get that decision right.
If Guzan, who is pegged to take over for Tim Howard sometime soon, does get hurt, Klinsmann will have to rely on a young keeper to man the space between the pipes.
The list of candidates for that job includes Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Cody Cropper and a few other young prospects.
While handing Guzan the starting role at the 2015 Gold Cup would be ideal, it wouldn't hurt Klinsmann to find his No. 2 and No. 3 keepers for 2016 during the first tournament on home soil after Brazil.
Make DeAndre Yedlin a Permanent Starter
DeAndre Yedlin made something very clear in Brazil, and that is he needs to start for the national team as often as possible.
The 21-year-old right-back showed no fear at the World Cup against three quality sides, and despite his young age, he has all the qualities to hold down the position for a long time.
Although Fabian Johnson was used as the starter at right-back throughout the World Cup, he played on the left for the majority of qualifying.
Now that there is a natural heir to Steve Cherundolo's throne in place, Johnson can comfortably shift over to left-back to make way for Yedlin.
Figure out What to Do with Timmy Chandler
There is no question that Timmy Chandler is a talented footballer, but he may not have a starting spot locked down for the Yanks with Yedlin and Johnson in front of him.
That situation provides Klinsmann with a dilemma over how to use Chandler over the next four years in order to hand him a fair shot at earning a spot in the starting XI.
Some may say that he should be handed a spot on the 2015 Gold Cup roster to provide an experienced hand on a team that could be made up of inexperienced international players.
If he performs well during that tournament and shows a full commitment to the team, Chandler could find himself in the starting XI for the Copa America Centenario.
If not, Chandler could come off the bench to allow Yedlin to surge forward in attack during the second half of the tournament.
Landon Donovan's Role in the Squad
Landon Donovan did himself no favors with his remarks as a correspondent for ESPN during the World Cup.
Donovan's relationship with Klinsmann has always been shaky, but one has to think he still has a year or two left for the national team if the two can work things out.
Against the high level of competition the Yanks will face in 2016, it would not hurt to include Donovan on the roster so that he can make an impact off the bench.
However, if the American legend is left off the roster, it would not be a huge issue with United States fans thanks to the promise shown by the young players in Brazil.
Multiple Center-Back Combinations
Entering the Copa America Centenario, Klinsmann should have four reliable center-backs at his disposal in Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.
Based off his performances in Brazil, Besler is a lock to make the starting XI any time the true first team takes to the pitch for the Yanks, but who starts alongside him is an open race between the other three players.
Gonzalez and Cameron both had solid showings at the World Cup, and when Brooks stepped on to the pitch against Ghana, he looked good as well.
With competition at the position at its highest level in a long time, Klinsmann must find the right combination over the next two years to ensure that the Yanks can achieve a ton of success on home soil.
Jozy Altidore's True Replacement
The one thing that destroyed Klinsmann's tactics in Brazil was the lack of a natural replacement for Jozy Altidore.
If Klinsmann has learned from his mistake, he will include Terrence Boyd in almost every roster he is available for leading up to the 2016 tournament.
The perfect tournament to spur Boyd's development would be the 2015 Gold Cup, which could hand him confidence to come off the bench in 2016 and provide a spark either in place of Altidore or next to him.
Find a Provider off the Bench to Replace an Aging Dempsey
Clint Dempsey will be 33 in 2016, which means he may not be able to go a full 90 minutes for every game.
If Dempsey does begin to have heavy legs, Klinsmann will need to have a young, energetic replacement to come off the bench to provide a spark.
Luckily for Klinsmann, he has players like Luis Gil, Julian Green and Harry Shipp in the player pool to make an impact, either centrally or on the wing, in place of the American captain.
Depth will be a major key to success in 2016, and if Klinsmann uses his personnel correctly, there could be a magical run deep into the tournament in front of the home crowd.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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