Who should Peter Nowak start vs. Japan?


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The Olympics are set to kick off for the U.S. men’s national team on Thursday morning against Japan, which means that in less than two days we will know who head coach Peter Nowak has chosen to start.

The U.S. team has some very good options in attack, and some quality players will be left on the bench. The key for Nowak will be balancing his attacking threats with the defensive needs of a team that is lacking in the back-field options department.

Here is the lineup I can see Nowak trotting on the field for the match against Japan on Thursday morning (4:55 a.m., MSNBC) in Tianjin, China:

PROJECTED U.S. Olympic Team Starting Lineup








I think Stuart Holden is the most likely candidate among the reserves to crack this lineup, as he could be used instead of Rogers. The use of Michael Orozco at left back should help ease concerns over that position, though he is certainly not a natural there.

Another question for me is whether Nowak will consider benching Altidore or Adu in favor of having a second central midfielder with strong defensive qualities, such as Danny Szetela or Holden.

Now it’s your turn. What starting lineup would you like to see take the field against Japan.

Share your thoughts below.

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69 Responses to Who should Peter Nowak start vs. Japan?

  1. DeLarge says:

    Benching Adu means giving in.

    So Nowak will probably do it.

  2. steve says:

    i have no idea how he could do it…but i think based on the friendlies they played…i think feilhaber deserves to start

  3. Byron says:

    Altidore McBride

    Rogers Bradley Adu Sacha Holden

    Orozco Parkhurst Wynne


  4. RK says:

    nbcolympics.com lists the game at 4:55 am — don’t make me get up earlier!!!

  5. Igor says:

    I’m worried that with supposedly good offensive options we scored zero goals in two warmup games.

  6. Eric says:

    The only two players who have the creativity and ability to effectively be a playmaker for the US are Adu and Holden. If Nowak doesn’t start at least one of them, the US team is going to have no real way to generate an attack. Kjlestan might be able to do it, but Nowak seems convinced that Sacha is an outside mid for some misguided reason.

  7. Super Metro says:

    That looks about right. We’re short on the defensive side Patrick Ianni is the only defender left so I’m assuming it’s all-attack mentality. This is Adu’s time to shine; no excuses.

  8. White Kix says:






    Could also go with a 3-5-2, take out Edu or Wynne and put in Holden on the right and slide Sztela in the middle. Won’t happen, but it should. With all our scoring problems, Fielhaber and Adu will definitly create chances, and Sztela keeps posseion much better then Bradley (Plus, our chances of losing due to a penalty or stupid red card are much less whith Bradley on the bench).

  9. Indigo Montoya says:

    I like your lineup, Ives. Adu is too creative a presence to not have in the first XI and Bradley better pack his lunch while playing at CM because he will have to cover for Adu’s pushing up the pitch.

  10. FF and SS says:







    I don’t want to see Ianni at any point.

  11. Vman says:

    Question for you guys … Has Nowak ever actually used the 3-5-2 in the run up to the Olympics? If not, then I can’t imagine he will start now. That formation does seem to fit our personnel a little better, though.

    Whatever the case may be, as long as he doesn’t go all empty bucket on us I will be happy.

  12. Topher says:

    looks pretty good ives. i think he wants kljestan out wide cause he is probably the best crosser between him, holden, and rogers. getting crosses to mcbride is going to be a key way to get goals in the run of play.

    i gotta disagree with people going for a 4-3-1-2. look, these wing backs have never been known to be great crossers of the ball. i think wynne will do well in attack, but with cutting inside more, not crossing.

    that’s the best you can do with so few defenders and having so many center mids

  13. Dominghosa says:

    Why is it that what USMNT fans want as a lineup never happens?

    I do like Ives’ lineup and hope that’s who trots out against Japan.

    I do believe Kljestan can cross the ball capable enough for McBride to get scoring opportunities.

    Rogers, on the other hand, is better used as a wing forward than he is an actual wide midfielder.

    Here’s hoping M. Bradley can handle the lone central defending midfielder role, if this lineup actually does play.

  14. wrong says:

    i think we have seen the altidore – mcbride combo doesnt work. two reasons: 1 – because they are both similar strong target forwards and would do better with some speed up there (makes me think someone like clint or landy would have been a much better overager than mcbride – he’s definitely class, but i think the olympics should have been a time for our future players to start gelling. 2 – they are two of the best 3 players we have, so its hard not to play them, but playing them together effectively means either putting altidore out of position or leaving out a wing player who can give them the service they need to play well.

    here is the REALISTIC lineup id like to see, assuming all three of those guys will play.



    rogers – bradley – benny f – altidore

    orozco – parkhurst – edu – wynne

    i think we need feilhaber to actually let the us get some possesion and then distribute so that we can get some service to our forwards. possession is key for this team, we cant use our great attacking options with out it. this would need to be fluid to allow altidore and adu to move around a lot, but at worst bradley or benny can slide out right when necessary for defensive purposes.

  15. Robert says:

    can’t wait…. got the wife to set up the dvr already!

  16. Juke Box Hero says:

    Looks like you’re going to be right, Ives, based on Nowak’s lineups leading up to this game. But our roster just seems way more 3-5-2 oriented over a 4-4-2 due to the clear lack of left backs (read: none) and glut of center midfielders (I count 7). In my mind, either he should be using a 3-5-2 with this crew or he should have brought more wingbacks (say, Bornstein, Harrington, Hill or Beltran) and less center mids.

    I don’t get a great feeling about where this is headed, but I’ll be rooting for them.

  17. ussoccer says:







  18. Betinho says:

    Anybody know how I can see this on line????

    Pleeease help.

  19. jmac says:



    Rogers Altidore

    Bradley Holden

    Orozco – Edu – Parkhurst – Wynne


  20. timpramas says:

    I like Ives’ suggested lineup except I would move Adu up to a withdrawn forward role, use Altidore as a sub, and start Holden or Feilhaber as a center mid to pair with Bradley.

  21. smokarz says:


    How could you possibly see Adu on the bench? That’s idiotic.

    This is HIS team. And no disrepect for McBride, he deserve the captain arm band. But come on, tell me another player on this roster that can put the team on his shoulder and carry them out of the group stage?

    Adu has done it twice in both the U20 WC and U23 Oly qualifying. This team belongs to him. He’s the bread and butter of this team, and its sucess in this tournament will soley lie with Adu’s perfomance. And god forbid, if Nowak decides to put Adu on the bench just to remind everyone that he’s the coach.

  22. bigboy says:

    Parkhurst has always looked better in a 3-5-2 then a 4-4-2. If Edu was in front of him it could work

  23. bigboy says:

    IF McHead produces nothing for the third game in a row, is it enough to bench him?

  24. TCompton says:

    I just don’t understand how this team has struggled to score goals in the run up to the Olympics with players like Adu, Altidore, and McBride in the attack.

    We don’t have much option on defense, so I just hope they can hold the fort down. As for the rest of the line-up.






    Altidore should be McBride’s replacement, and vice versa, in the next game. Just because McBride is on the team, doesn’t mean we need to start him every game.

  25. Javier says:

    i’d rather bench kljestan or rogers, and play jozy out wide. it’s not ideal, but it’ll get him, mcbride, and adu on the field at the same time.

  26. james says:



    Holden Bradley Feilhaber Wynne

    Szetela Edu

    Orozco Parkhurst Ianni


  27. TCompton says:

    “…[Adu’s] the bread and butter of this team, and its success in this tournament will solely lie with Adu’s perfomance…”


    Oi! That’s the US’s biggest weakness. First is was Reyna, then it was Donovan, now it’s Adu. Until the US can get out from under “one man carries the team” mentality, it will continue to fail.

    In 2002, it was Reyna’s team, so to speak, but Friedel, Donovan and Beasley stole the show, taking the pressure off of Reyna.

    Players like Bradley, Kjlestan, Altidore, Edu, and Guzan, not to mention Adu, have to elevate their play for this team to advance. It’s not just on Adu’s shoulders.

  28. Marc says:

    I think the 11 players that Ives highlighted will be the starters, but that Sasha will pinch in the middle to provide bradley support. sort of an unbalanced midfield. the theory will be that wynne’s speed can compensate for any gaps on the flank. remember, bradley loved this formation with the Red Bulls (I know Nowak is the coach, but the two of them are surely making decisions together).

  29. Ives says:

    Smokarz, you might want to tone down the rhetoric. I simply wrote that I wonder if Nowak would consider that. I didn’t say he should.

    I’m also interested to see the number of people suggesting that Altidore play on the right wing. It seemed as if one of the biggest pet peeves among Red Bulls fans when Altidore was still there was Osorio using him on the wing.

    I agree with the suggestions that you want a good crosser on the wing, something Altidore isn’t. This is why I think we could see the lineup I posted. I know there are concerns about Bradley having too much to do, but there is always the possibility of Edu slipping forward to help with possession in the middle.

    I also didn’t give enough consideration to Feilhaber, in part because I just don’t know where he is in terms of fitness and form. He hasn’t played in how long? If he’s in top form then he’ll make a very strong case for starting.

  30. FF and SS says:

    Jozy is wasted out wide out wide. Seen it in person enough times to promise you that much.

    Playing Bradly as a D-Mid is now, and will forever be a complete waste of his skills. The only time we ever see him is with the Nats, so we forget that attacking football at the club level is what’s about to make him rich in Europe, not man-marking or defensive ability.

    An artice from the other day said they haven’t used a 3-5-1 in the run up to the Olympics, but they better do it tomorrow because it best utilizes the roster and if we don’t beat Japan 3-0, you can stick a fork in this tournament.

  31. Betinho says:

    If they let us I think we should go with the 12 man team james suggests.

  32. Michael F. says:

    If Adu and Altidore don’t start and go 90 – we lose. Simple as that.

  33. Bill says:

    @ James — I doubt the IOC would let us line up 12 players. But if they do, I like your line-up.

  34. JeffM says:

    I think this roster begs for a 3-5-2. Personally, I don’t like Orozco at left back – he looks like a center back through and through to me. We really can’t afford a tie with Japan, and they make me less nervous about a three man back line than the other two teams. Therefore, I’d like to see:







    Some things to keep in mind:

    – Parkhurst plays in a 3-5-2 in New England.

    – Adu’s best position is attacking mid with support behind him.

    – Nowak’s preferred (hell, only) system at DC United was a 3-5-2.

  35. Bill says:

    As opposed to the 10-man lineup that FF and SS suggests.

  36. Chris says:

    One thing to take into consideration for this match is how quick the turnaround will be from one match to another. Its what makes the Olympics so tricky. We may not actually start our best 11 for the first match (maybe save that for when we play the dutch). Managing the players so that they still have gas in the tank in the matches that follow is very important.

    Having said that, I haven’t followed the other teams in our group (or who we would likely play if we were to advance) to know which teams we should start with our stronger team or which we should rest players against.

  37. BFBS says:

    I will go with Ives’s line-up, but make Holden for Rogers change that he mentions.

  38. Felix says:







    I started Szetela on the right for his strong defensive skills which will make up for Wynne’s frequent forays into the attack. Orozco on the left should cover for Rogers on the left side. I put Adu over Altidore as a different look on the forward spot who will provide something different than Altidore (who in many ways is a young, more technical version of McBride). And is this game started at 3:55am central time? I hope not………..

  39. Brian says:

    There is NO WAY Benny is fit to go a full 90 or to start a match. He hasn’t been able to train all summer due to injury and was riding the pine all season.

    Benny has played well in the friendlies and I think would make a great offensive sub.

  40. FF and SS says:

    Hey, Bill . . .wanna take a second look at that?

  41. SonicDeathMonkey says:

    @ Robert

    I think Ives and others have mentioned over and over that Landycakes and Dempsey and others will be needed for something that really matters…a WCQ match. You can speculate all you want, but there was NEVER a chance that any of the regular senior guys was going to get the call. Please move on.

  42. Effmanny says:






    Jozy has the techincal ability to play on the left. The downside of playing him on the left is much less than the upside of playing a dedicated holding midfielder. Esp. with our grabbag back 4 that has 2 players playing out of position.

  43. Jamie Z. says:

    I really hope Nowak knows more than he’s letting on here. As much as I love each of them, I’ve got doubts about a McBride/Altidore partnership. I think Adu or Davies might be a better complement to a target striker. That might mean leaving some quality players on the bench, but that’s a problem any quality team is going to encounter in finding its ideal lineup.

    I also think a three man defense might suit the lineup as we have plenty of depth in midfield and Ozorco is never a left back.

  44. wrong says:

    FF and SS

    ever watched any of bradley’s games in holland, or for the US? his goals in holland are all trash – just good hustle plays and toe pokes, similar to what he’s scored for the US. he’s not a midfield general who controls plays and distributes, he’s a defensive midfielder that’s given a little more liberty to go forward than he gets for the US. i do agree herenveen plays him slightly more forward than he has for the US, but not by much. he’s never going to be the next US claudio reyna/whatever other midfield player you want to think of who could hold possession and slow the game down, so its time to stop considering him as anything more than a defensive midfielder who has a good touch and looking for a real playmaking middfielder – which is why i keep pushing for benny to be given another shot, he’s the best prospect at that position the US has, and no matter his mistakes of the past we have to give him a shot if we dont want to crash out of the olympics and the world cup.

  45. Bill says:

    FF and SS: 3-5-1, plus the GK, makes 10, no? Am I missing something (totally possible, it’s been a long day…)?

  46. TCompton says:

    Why not throw caution to the wind and play a 4-3-3?







  47. Raghu says:


    The match starts Thursday morning at 4:55 or 5 am eastern time on MSNBC I believe (Ives, is that correct?).

    I really had hoped Nowak would play the 3-5-2 in the friendlies (With Edu and Bradley in front of the defense as the defensive mids).

    Didn’t happen – so I doubt we’ll see it. I do expect that we’ll have 3 different line-ups for the 3 matches – based on fitness/form and opposing personnel.

    I expect to see Holden/Rogers/Sasha/Benny in and out of the line-up and will be surprised to see Adu, Jozy and McBride play together the entire tournament (assuming a 3 man back isn’t played).

    Benny is def. the wildcard here. I’ve not seen Orozco play yet. Really looking forward to seeing him in the back.

  48. ben says:







    Kljestan and Holden are in a squeaky bum race to be the most overrated player on the roster.

    Holden has nowhere near the guile or pace to perform at this level in attack and is not a feasible option as a d-mid as I heard someone describe him earlier.

    Kljestan is a quality player, but he’s certainly no winger. Kljestan is a decent distributor with good technique and some skill, but he’s out of his league at the playmaker position at the international level.

    They’re both offensive-minded midfielders who are behind players who are either better than them defensively while similar going forward (Bradley, Szetela) or better in attack but still a defensive liability (Feilhaber, Rogers)

  49. Raghu says:

    Ben, after reading your post – I think you’re right and I that line-up would be interesting to see. Sasha, Benny, and Holden would be good subs in that line-up and based on situation.

  50. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    Hmmm….I think Wrong is almost Right…

    Altidore Adu


    Rogers – Holden


    orozco – parkhurst – edu – wynne

    Also, wouldn’t surprise me to see BF in for Holden, or Sacha on the right in more of a flat midfield.

    McBride can be a 60 minute sub and bring a ton of energy/bite with him.

  51. Betinho says:

    Raghu – thanks but I can’t get it on MSNBC so i’m hoping to catch it on line. If anybody knows where that would be great!

  52. Raghu says:

    Go to NBC.com – they’ve got an online set-up for the olympics I think.

  53. Dylan says:








    That’s what i’d like to see, but I doubt it will happen.

  54. Dylan says:

    By-the-way, if you need to watch it online:


    It’s free. I suggest downloading SopCast and TVU.

  55. ryan says:

    GUYS, enough with the downer comments. I wasn’t too high (still thought they had a shot to medal) But now I’m really not sure (insert Nowak joke here) I CAN NOT BELIEVE we are debating on NOT PLAYING ADU ALTIDORE OR MCBRIDE. You have to play McBride to justify the overage selection. (Not saying it right) And if I wake up at 4:50 in the damn morning Altidore and Adu better be on the pitch anything else would cause me to question Nowak’s intelligence…AGAIN

  56. I see a 4-4-2 on paper, but in reality, look for Edu to push a little forward of Parkhurst and play a combo D-Mid and Central Defender, kind of like the old Sweeper/stopper formation of my youth. That should take some of hte pressure off of Bradley.

    With mad props to McBride, this team will sink or swim on Adu’s performance and he knows it. Adu is the creative energy on the field and if he is firing on all cylinders, it will dominate the game.

  57. SteveToro says:

    what about the other mac… dax mccarty! he looked great in florida in qualifiers this spring. i know he was a late addition, but he definitely deserves some pt.

  58. FF & SS says:


    I think Bradley has much more freedom to go forward with club than he does country, largely because he doesn’t have to babysit whoever is playing in front of him. My point is that he does a good job of taking advantage of those opportunities. “Trash goals” is insane to me. Back of the net is back of the net. With the way he’s used for the US, I personally don’t think he’s in position to get those “toe pokes” that we desperately need.


    I posted a 3-5-2.

  59. betinho says:

    thanks for the suggestions.

    As far as the line up I agree with PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo just because his name.

  60. Kyle says:

    I like this line-up as well:







    Edu and Bradley are essentially the same player/role in this team. It makes sense to have one in the line-up but not both, and pulling one allows you to put a player like Feilhaber in the middle who can control the flow of play and distribute the ball to the wings and forwards. Feilhaber and Adu could put together some nice build ups if they can get on the same page with each other. I might start Rogers over Holden on the left, but both are solid choices.

  61. rocky says:

    i cant wait to see this team perform, this is the best american team maybe ever. Congrats to parkhurst as a fellow cranston ri native i cant wait for you to perform and show you should be our senior national team cb. On another note as long as Altidore, Adu, and Mcbride are spear heading our attack we should be ok. The question is what formation and who plays with them. I really would like to see a 3-5-2, but we prob. wont see it, so i cant wait to see. Go Michael Parkhurst repersent!!!

  62. Goalscorer24 says:

    It all depends whether they go with a 3 man (*)or 4 man backline. If it is a 3 man backline you have Edu as a backline or midfield sub. If it is a 4 man backline then you have Jozy come in as a sub because I don’t think Bradley can hold the middle alone. He could partner with Feilhaber which adds some possession. Hope they can pull it off whatever the formation.






  63. Isaac says:

    ST: McBride

    CF: Altidore

    CAM: Adu

    LM: Holden

    RM: Kjlestan

    CDM: Bradley


    CB: Parkhurst, Edu


    Has Nowak ever considered 3 in the back?

    seeing as how we’ve been talking about a shortage of defenders for a while now, i think its about time we thought of that option. Bruce Arena used it to success once in the 2002 world cup. it might not be so bad.

  64. mike says:

    Everyones faith in Feilhaber is unbelievable. I think Klejstein is out of position out wide, but our best option to put crosses in. Let’s let Adu and Altidore float while McBride waits around to head the ball into the goal. Also Parkhurst is more than capable by himself as a center back so lets move Edu foreword to help Bradley win balls in the middle, he’s a better passer anyways. I guess you could call this a 3-6-1 or a 3-4-3.








  65. Walter says:







  66. papa bear says:

    as long as he doesn’t employ the bulls*** negative tactics he employed in qualifying.

    I am fully in favor of playing a 3-5-2. it makes more sense given the talent available.

  67. Tom R says:

    The best combinations on offense so far have been between Adu, Rogers and Bradley. I would to see them in the first game.

  68. cameron says:





    Just like pancho said, McBride should sub in @ 60 minutes, and find a spot for feilhaber in the middle after 75. holden in for rogers or kljeistan

  69. jrnail23 says:

    well if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Novak, it’s that it doesn’t matter what the obvious best lineup is… he’ll always do something different (in a bad way). Someone will play out of position, and he’ll start someone who has no business starting. count on it