A rash of injuries and illness have left U.S. men's national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann with a weakened roster ahead of Wednesday's match against Italy, making his decisions on a starting lineup that much tougher.
The loss of Landon Donovan, Timmy Chandler and Jose Torres, coming on the heels of losing Oguchi Onyewu has left Klinsmann with a group that won't quite look like the nearly full-strength side he looked like he would have available in Genoa on Wednesday.
Replacing Donovan won't be easy, and the decision to bring in Brek Shea as an emergency replacement shows just how limited Klinsmann's wing options are for the Italy match.
So who will Klinsmann start against the Italians? Here is the lineup we see him using:
PROJECTED USMNT LINEUP vs. ITALY
Fabian Johnson plays left back for Hoffenheim and this match is the perfect opportunity to get a look at him at that position, partnering him with Shea to form a fast flank pairing. The right side isn't quite as dynamic, with the defensive-minded Williams teaming with Cherundolo. In fact, with Williams in the lineup in that grouping, the lineup would play more like a 4-3-2-1 than a 4-2-3-1. Having Edu, Bradley and Williams in front of the defense would squeeze Italy's dangerous midfield, but it also wouldn't likely lead to the United States creating many scoring chances.
Klinsmann could put Shea on the right and Johnson on the left, choosing to turn to Jonathan Spector at left back. This would allow him to play Williams in central midfield alongside Bradley. Williams has looked good in that role for Hoffenheim, but he question will be whether Klinsmann is better off with Spector at left back (where he hasn't played this year for Birmingham) or with Johnson at left back and Williams on the right wing. The latter would be a much stronger defensive lineup.
Altidore and Dempsey will work together, either in the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 shown, or in a straight 4-4-2.
At centerback, Goodson brings experience to the table and should get the nod over Geoff Cameron and Michael Parkhurst.
Sacha Kljestan has been called in for this match, and while he has done very well for Anderlecht, it is tough to envision Klinsmann starting him after not originally planning to call him in at all (yes, the same can be said about Shea, but Shea is an established Klinsmann favorite while Kljestan is about as far from that as you can get).
What do you think of the above lineup? What players would you like to see in the starting XI? Who listed above do you NOT want to see get a start on Wednesday?
Share your thoughts below.