USMNT: Predicting the Starting Lineup for Brazil 2014
With the first match of the Klinsmann era just 24 hours away, it is a perfect time to take a look at what this team could be three years from now. A lot of the same players who you will see tomorrow will be featured on the US 2014 World Cup team as well. But to get a full sneak peak of the roster, I suggest you glance through the following slideshow. Here is my predicted USMNT starting lineup and subs for the 2014 World Cup
Note 1: The formation that is used for this slideshow is a basic 4-4-2 (Diamond)
Note 2: To view the US' Top Ten Teenagers Click Here.
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With many of the current US defenders on the back side of their careers, it is very likely that the defense will be the most changed section of the squad.
Goalkeeper: Tim Howard: There really isn't even a question on who the USMNT's starting goalkeeper will be in 2014. Tim will merely be 35 years old by the time Brazil comes around, and if history tells us anything, it is that goalkeepers don't quite age like field players.
Left Back: Eric Lichaj: After Bornstein’s disasterous showing at the 2011 Gold Cup, Klinsmann wouldn’t dare take the risk and give him a second chance on the biggest stage. All eyes then point to Eric Lichaj, who played relatively well at this position at the 2011GC and would only be 25 by the time Brazil comes. However, with Edgar Castillo offering a more attacking LWB style, expect these two to really split time during qualifying.
Center Back: Tim Ream: The New York Red Bull center back has earned six caps since the World Cup and continues to be labeled the future rock of the USMNT defense. In June, there were rumors that Dutch powerhouse PSV were interested in his services, a place where Ream could really develop before the next World Cup. The fact that Ream prefers his left foot (Unlike most other US Defenders) might also be a desirable characteristic for Klinsmann. We will be seeing a lot more from Ream in the future.
Center Back: Maurice Edu: Before you exclaim Edu's natural position is CDM, I suggest you hear me out. After a few more years of experience and development, Edu will just be entering his prime at Brazil 2014. That being said, Klinsmann certainly wouldn’t want to keep a man with such talent on the bench. Plus, with Michael Bradley likely locking up the lone Central Defensive Midfield spot (remember, USMNT will play a much more attacking formation in the future), the only logical place for Edu would be Center back. Finally, when you look at the other CB candidates, Edu really stands out from the pack.
Right Back: Tim Chandler: Although Chandler has only played a mere two games for the Stars and Stripes, it would be hard not to include him on the list given his profile. He played in 15 games for German club Nuremberg last season at the age of 19 and was a breath of fresh air in the US' friendly vs Argentina. His speed is a characteristic that the US desperately lacked against Mexico in the Gold Cup, and something that no other US defensive prospect really has. It also doesn’t hurt that Chandler is part German under Klinsmann’s regime.
Edgar Castillo: Castillo will battle with Lichaj for the LB spot, and I expect both players to get significant minutes in the upcoming World Cup campaign.
Ryan Franklyn: Franklyn has great potential, but is simply too small to succeed at the international level.
Gale Agbossoumonde: It would be impossible to predict his development considering how little playing time he has received at the club level.
Clarence Goodson: Goodson’s height could really be helpful, but at 32, his fitness just might not be worth his size.
Oguchi Onyweu: Considering Gooch’s dramatic drop off since 2009, even the most optimistic US fans shouldn’t expect Onyewu to regain top form.
Jonathan Spector: The man can’t go a week without stubbing his toe, and you expect him to play in the World Cup? Nonsense.
Jonathan Bornstein: Oh, boy!
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If you had to label one part of the USMNT squad as "stacked," midfield certainly would be it. The majority of the team's high class players fall into this category, thus making it very difficult to pick exactly four to fill the First XI. Nevertheless, here are four players who have the best chance at getting significant minutes in 2014.
Center Defensive Mid: Michael Bradley: Many think that the firing of "Big Bob" would hurt his chances in the lineup, but I think otherwise. Bradley is now relieved of his duties as the “coach’s son” and can now play without the pressure of his dad always on top of him. He also is the most consistent and youngest of his fellow CDM competitors (Edu and Jones) and has the most promising future of the three. His dad might be gone, but Bradley isn't going anywhere.
Left Mid: Brek Shea: If you have ever caught a glimpse of Brek Shea's game, you know the impact he could have on the USMNT. The man is simply a monster, standing 6’3" and as powerful as American soccer players come. Despite playing defense for a fair amount of the MLS season, Shea has netted nine goals, good enough for fourth in the MLS and a USMNT call up by Jurgen Klinsmann. With Donovan also aging, Shea seems like the clear successor on the wing.
Center Attacking Mid: Stuart Holden: Holden has all the capabilities of being a brilliant CAM at the international level. He consistently plays against some of the best in the world with Bolton, meaning that he would have plenty of fierce experience by 2014. He also is very calm with the ball at his feet, and can deliver great through balls to the wings and strikers. Finally, his free kick abilities would certainly make the US one of the best set piece teams in CONCACAF, if not the world in three years. Simply put, Holden would be too valuable to be left on the bench.
Right Mid: Clint Dempsey: With Dempsey putting in his best statistical season at Fulham at the age of 28, there is a great chance he will still be a major contributor at the next World Cup. He is a versatile player who isn't afraid to get into scuffles with opposing players. He is the hard-nosed winner that a young USMNT team would undoubtedly need.
Landon Donovan: At the start of the 2014 World Cup, Donovan would be 32 and have 14 years of International and club play on his legs (In comparison, Dempsey would only have 10 of each). Most USMNT fans realize that Donovan simply isn't as strong a 1v1 dribbler as he was two years ago, and probably doesn't have 36 months of good football left in him. Being an American hero, it would be hard to keep him off the roster, but his age would be easy to keep him on the bench.
Jermaine Jones: Being the oldest of the bunch, Jones would be on the wrong side of his career and likely be low on the CDM depth chart. If only Jermaine had realized his citizenship a decade earlier, things would be a lot different.
Jose Francisco Torres: It is going to be a fresh start for JFT after somehow being left in Bob Bradley's doghouse for 12 months. Torres has a lot of promise, but would have to beat out Holden for a starting job.
Mikkel Diskeruud: The kid will be an inexperienced 23-year-old at the next World Cup. Klinsmann will likely go for more mature players when the time comes.
Bedoya, Kljestan, Feilhaber, Rogers: These four US midfielders are all in the same boat. They are decent international players, but just won't be as attractive options as the ones listed above.
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When it comes to strikers, Klinsmann really has to realize which pair best fits his offense. US Strikers come in a package, and the likely packages that he will have to choose from are below:
Bijev and Pelosi: These two promising strikers are currently off Klinsmann's radar, but they soon have the chance to be America's next great pairing up top. The two play in the US U17/18 teams respectively and are both linked with moves to Liverpool this summer (Bijev already has signed). Bijev and Pelosi will likely play together for the remainder of their US youth careers, meaning that they will have great chemistry by 2014. However, being only 21 and 20 at the time of the next World Cup might keep them on the bench until they gain more experience.
Davies and Altidore: Anyone who watched this dynamic duo play together know what has been missing the last 14 months. Davies and Altidore’s chemistry was off the charts, and better then any up front combo we have seen since. After Davies’ injury, it hasn’t been so much as Altidore has lost his touch, but lost his partner who brings his game to life. As a USMNT fan, I hope to see this duo play again, but the popular choice for Klinsmann would likely be the one below.
Agudelo and Adu: This pair of prodigies likely will be the one that takes the field come 2014, and here is why. Klinsmann’s history includes featuring attackers who are young and vibrant, filled with flair and are capable of special things. Simply put, the flashy duo of Adu and Agudelo would fit into Klinsmann’s zip and zing type attack more than Davies and Altidore. Klinsmann is looking to start a new era in US football, and that means no special privileges for those who succeeded in the past.
Who Do You Want to See?
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Remember, this is not exactly the roster I wish to see in Brazil, just the First XI I expect to see. My wish list, like yours, is probably a lot different than this. So now it is your turn to talk. Share your US dream team below in the comments!