Jurgen Klinsmann's Suggested US National Team Competitive Lineup

Blake HickmanContributor IIINovember 16, 2011

Jurgen Klinsmann's Suggested US National Team Competitive Lineup

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    I understand that Jurgen Klinsmann is experimenting with his team, seeing who deserves a spot when the games actually matter, seeing who he can count on and seeing how he wants to set the team up.

    Unfortunately, we have lost or drawn our last several matches (except for the Slovenia match, which was a very close thing). As these matches are just friendlies, these losses and draws do not bother me—even though I hate seeing us lose—as I understand the transitional process that we are in right now.

    What does bother me is that average players such as Kyle Beckerman, Clarence Goodson and Michael Orozco have all received several caps under Jurgen Klinsmann while deserving young players such as Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj can barely get a look into the squad.

    The future of our US National Team is these young, talented players, and while I applaud Jurgen Klinsmann for bringing in promising young players such as Timothy Chandler, Brek Shea and Danny Williams to the squad, he continues to persist with mediocre defensive choices when young defenders with great talent and potential (such as the MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez) don’t even get a look in.

    This next year should be a time for our young US players to get experience in International Football and prepare for the major tournaments to come, as the next round of tournaments will most likely be the last for several of our most important players on defense and in goal, including Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra.

    What follows is what I believe should be the starting 11 and bench for the US National Team for the 2013 Gold Cup and the 2014 World Cup.

Starting 11 2013 Gold Cup and 2014 World Cup:

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    Bench: Guzan, Lichaj, Ream, Edu, Williams, Shea, Agudelo

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard

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    For the US National Team, goalkeeper has never been a position of worry.

    Tim Howard was preceded in the US National Team goal by Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel. 

    He has had big shoes to fill and has done a tremendous job filling them.

    His strength, personality and leadership have made him into a solid figure for the US National Team, and one who should have many more years between the sticks for the US.

    • Age: 32
    • National Appearances: 72
    • National Goals: 0

Left-Back: Timothy Chandler

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    A recent addition to the US National Team setup from out of Germany, Timothy Chandler has done a great job in making the left-back position his.

    His hard work and great runs up and down the left side of the pitch have left no doubt in my mind that he has been a great steal from Germany, and at only 21 years old, he should be a big part of the US National Team for years to come.

    In the Slovenia game, Timothy Chandler was caught out of position several times and showed some defensive positioning issues, but you can see that he will continue to improve both defensively and offensively the more appearances he gets with FC Nuremburg and the US National Team.

    • Age: 21
    • National Appearances: 7
    • National Goals: 0

Central Defense: Carlos Bocanegra

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    As long as Carlos Bocanegra can keep playing at his consistent high level, he deserves a spot on the US National Team.

    He is a rock in central defense and the captain of the team, and he has proven over and over again that he truly deserves his spot.

    Currently playing for Rangers FC in Scotland, he is their starting central defender and is in great form.

    What you get from Carlos Bocanegra and what he exudes to all the players around him is experience, leadership, hard work and a winning attitude.

    It will be a sad day for US Soccer when Bocanegra finally hangs up his boots and retires.

    • Age: 32
    • National Appearances: 100
    • National Goals: 12

Central Defense: Omar Gonzalez

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    Omar Gonzalez plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, for whom he already has nearly 100 appearances.

    He has been their standout defender in a season where their defense has given up less than one goal a game and recorded 17 shutouts.

    His defensive performances have earned him many awards, including the MLS Rookie of the Year award in 2009, a place in both the 2010 and 2011 MLS best 11 teams of the year as well as being selected as the MLS Defender of the Year for 2011.

    Having watched him play I do not understand how Michael Orozco and Clarence Goodson—both of whom have had some terrible performances for the US National Team—consistently get picked over him.

    In my opinion, he is the future in central defense for the US National Team and deserves to be getting consistent play time so as to develop in time for the 2013 Gold Cup and the 2014 World Cup.

    • Age: 23
    • National Appearances: 2
    • National Goals: 0

Right-Back: Steve Cherundolo

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    Steve Cherundolo is an extremely important part of the US National Team setup.

    When he plays, the team plays better.

    When he is injured or not selected, the team plays progressively worse.

    His work rate both defensively and offensively is what makes him such a solid player and a must-have in the right-back slot for the US National Team.

    Cherundolo has played for Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga since 1998, where he is the team captain and one of their longest-serving players.

    Cherundolo is a player who will be hard to replace when he retires, and these next few years will most likely be his last playing for the US National Team.

    • Age: 32
    • National Appearances: 77
    • National Goals: 2

Central Midfielder: Michael Bradley

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    Michael Bradley is a player who has received a bad rap simply because his father was the head coach of US National Team throughout most of his appearances.

    Whenever Michael Bradley is playing, I feel better and more confident for the US National Team.

    His high work rate, give-it-all attitude, tendency to pop up with important goals and his great set piece delivery bring up the whole team’s playing levels.

    His form may have dropped right after his father being fired, but that is understandable, and he is doing well in Italy with Chievo Verona at this time, had a great game for the US National Team against Slovenia and deserves his spot with the US National Team.

    Paired with Stuart Holden in the center of the US midfield, Michael Bradley would add both creativity and strength to the team.

    • Age: 24
    • National Appearances: 63
    • National Goals: 9

Central Midfielder: Stuart Holden

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    Stuart Holden was in the form of his life playing for Bolton Wanderers in the English Premier League.

    Before his injury, he was playing good football, winning challenges, assisting goals and getting himself into dangerous positions around the box.

    That was until a rash tackle by Jonny Evans took him out of the game for six months with a cruciate injury.

    Only one match after returning, he was ruled out again with cartilage damage for another six months.  

    While playing for Houston Dynamo, Stuart Holden was more of an attacking midfielder, but with Bolton he was played in the central of midfield and seemed to blossom there.

    While not the biggest player, he makes up for it with his work rate and positioning. At one time before his injury, he even topped the English Premier League in number of tackles and percentage of tackles won.

    Hopefully, on his return from this injury nightmare, he will get back to his best and be the player that the US has desperately needed in central midfield.

    • Age: 26
    • National Appearances: 17
    • National Goals: 2

Attacking Midfielder- Landon Donovan

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    With Stuart Holden and Michael Bradley sitting behind him, Landon Donovan could retain his role as the creative fulcrum of the US National Team.

    Landon’s best position is not on the wings, alone up top as a striker or in the center midfield of the USA.

    It is in the attacking midfield slot with two center midfielders backing him up as well as a striker ahead of him.

    From this position, Landon is free to roam and both create and score goals.

    With Landon sitting behind the striker, the USA looks a much stronger and more creative team and should be back to scoring goals.

    His absence from these recent US friendlies has been a major issue for Jurgen Klinsmann, as he has looked and failed to find a creative replacement to Landon Donovan when he is absent from the squad.

    • Age: 29
    • National Appearances: 138
    • National Goals: 46

Left Midfield: Fabian Johnson

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    Fabian Johnson is a young German player who, like Timothy Chandler, has recently decided on the US National Team over the German National Team.

    Fabian Johnson is able to play in both defense and midfield, but In the recent Slovenia game, Fabian Johnson was one of the best players on the field, constantly getting into dangerous positions and playing a great game for his first start for the US National Team.

    He caused problems for the Slovenian defense, kept his position well and helped out covering from Timothy Chandler’s runs. Though only a recent addition to the US National Team, I believe that he will make the left midfield position his for the next round of competitions.

    • Age: 23
    • National Team Appearances: 2
    • National Team Goals: 0

Right Midfield: Clint Dempsey

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    Clint Dempsey is a tough, hard-working midfielder with an eye for goal.

    To me, Dempsey is the All-American footballer, born poor in a small town in Texas, he got to where he is now through determination and a desire to be the best—and those traits are what he brings for the US National Team on the football pitch.

    Whether the US National Team is up by three goals or down by three goals, Dempsey will always be trying to make a difference, win the ball, and either create goals or score them himself.

    • Age: 28
    • National Team Appearances: 82
    • National Team Goals: 24

Striker: Jozy Altidore

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    Jozy Altidore is a powerful traditional center forward whose physicality and hard work make him a great option for the US National Team, but his skills work best when he has creative players around him to utilize.

    When stuck up top alone without support, he struggles—but when he has Landon Donovan sitting behind him in a free role, Clint Dempsey making runs from the right and with Brek Shea providing down the left, Jozy Altidore will shine with his strength and determination.

    All the other forwards in the US setup, including Buddle, Agudelo, Wondolowski and even Donovan do not have the right combination of skills to play in the main striker position in this US formation.

    Jozy Altidore is in form with AZ Alkmaar and will be back in the goals soon for the US National Team as well.

    • Age: 22
    • National Team Appearances: 45
    • National Team Goals: 13

Substitutes Bench: Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, Tim Ream

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    Brad Guzan has the potential to be a great US National Goalkeeper. What he needs, though, is a move to a team where he will be the first-choice starter (possibly the MLS) and can get back on track and show that he is not just a talented backup but a potential starter for the US.

    • Age: 27
    • National Team Appearances: 19
    • National Team Goals: 0

    Eric Lichaj had a series of good showings in the Gold Cup this year at left-back, but after an injury to Steven Cherundolo was forced to move to right-back, where he was not as effective, as that was not where he had been playing throughout the whole tournament.

    I feel that he is a talented young player who needs to be getting playing time, as he can play at both left and right-back. He, like Brad Guzan, needs a move to a team for regular playing time.

    • Age: 22
    • National Team Appearances: 8
    • National Team Goals: 0

    Tim Ream is the player who in my opinion will partner Omar Gonzalez when Carlos Bocanegra retires.

    He is a good young central defender who has had several good seasons for NY Red Bulls and deserves to get more playing time than he has recently been getting for the US National Team.

    He fits in well with Jurgen Klinsmann’s view of the team as well, as he is an excellent passer of the ball.

    • Age: 24
    • National Team Appearances: 7
    • National Team Goals: 0

Substitutes Bench: Maurice Edu, Danny Williams, Brek Shea, Juan Agudelo

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    Maurice Edu is a solid player in the center of midfield for the US and can make a real difference coming from the bench. He is a player who can start or come in as an impact sub for the United States in place of Stuart Holden and Michael Bradley.

    • Age: 25
    • National Team Appearances: 30
    • National Team Goals: 1

    Brek Shea is a highly-rated young winger out of FC Dallas and has been a sensation in MLS this season. Scoring goals seemingly for fun, making incisive runs down the left and quickly becoming a fan favorite, Brek Shea is destined for greatness.

    His club form with FC Dallas has seen him brought into the US National Team, where at times (including the recent games against France and Slovenia) he has seemed out of his depth. Jurgen Klinsmann, though, needs to keep faith with the tall winger from Texas, as he is one of the most promising of all the young US prospects.

    Brek Shea is one of my favorite young US players, and with support from Klinsmann and the US fans will be a star for the US team for years to come.

    • Age: 21
    • National Appearances: 8
    • National Goals: 0

    Danny Williams is a young midfielder who recently chose to play for the US National Team based on his duel citizenship. Played out of position for the US National Team in the last few games, he has looked out of sorts at times but seems a great prospect for the future of the team with his ability to play in both midfield and defense.

    Expect to see much more from Danny Williams in the future.

    • Age: 22
    • National Team Appearances: 3
    • National Team Goals: 0

    Juan Agudelo is an up and coming striker who was thrust into the forefront of the US National Team too early.

    He isn’t at a level to play as the starting lone striker for the US yet. In time he will progress and be able to play that position but while hard working has looked extremely isolated when played in the lone striker role for the US National Team.

    • Age: 18
    • National Team Appearances: 15
    • National Team Goals: 2


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    If Jurgen Klinsmann wants to win the Gold Cup in 2013 and do well in the World Cup in 2014, then he needs to have a team that balances youth with experience, passing quality with always retaining the ball and attractive football with the tenacity the US National Team is known for.

    Players of average quality such as Kyle Beckerman, Clarence Goodson and Michel Orozco need to be phased out of the setup, while young players such as Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, Eric Lichaj, Brek Shea and Danny Williams need to be focused on.

    It is over a year till our next major tournament, and in that time Jurgen Klinsmann needs to decide which players are the future of the US National Team and give them the playing time they need to be ready for the major competitions ahead.