Who should the USMNT start vs. Antigua & Barbuda?

Photo by Douglas Zimmerman/ISIPhotos.com


The biggest question heading into Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Antigua & Barbuda isn’t so much who will start, but rather who will be left around to play.

That is the sentiment surrounding the U.S. Men’s National Team as Jurgen Klinsmann deals with a rash of injuries and illness that has decimated his options at left back, and diminished his options in midfield.

As much as this may be leading to panic among sections of the U.S. national team fan base, the fact remains there is still more than enough talent at Klinsmann’s disposal to secure the victory on Antigua & Barbuda.

So which 11 players will Klinsmann turn to on Friday? Here is SBI’s projected starting lineup for the match:







Some thoughts:

Carlos Bocanegra is a player I had long considered a lock to start this match, but with two games in five days I don’t see Klinsmann starting him in both games and Guatemala is the tougher of the two matches. Bocanegra will be needed to help deal with Carlos Ruiz so I see him resting for this one.

Parkhurst is the left back. He has played the position before on the club level and while he won’t provide much in the way of service, he can handle any defensive responsibilities that may arise, and he can certainly carry the ball forward if given the chance to attack. Carlos Bocanegra might seem like a simple option here, but as noted above, I think he’s more valuable as a starting centerback against Guatemala, and we also need to consider the yellow card situation (several Americans are on yellow cards).

The front seven is very similar to the front seven we saw against Jamaica in Columbus, only Michael Bradley is playing in Jermaine Jones’ spot and Sacha Kljestan is playing in Jose Torres spot. This front seven can play at least as well, if not better, and has the qualities to break down an Antigua & Barbuda defense that will surely be in bunker mode.

Klinsmann could be tempted to play a 4-3-3, which Eddie Johnson replacing Kljestan in a set-up like this:






I personally like the idea of this lineup, which would have Dempsey and Gomez working with Bradley and Zusi to use Johnson as the target up top. Dempsey and Gomez could stretch the Antigua defense while Bradley and Zusi look for gaps.

Jermaine Jones came into camp with an injury and I think he sits this one out. If not, we could see him deployed as a No. 6, but with a mission to join the attack if Antigua really does bunker heavily.

Klinsmann will ultimately have to decide between starting Johnson or Kljestan, and that will determine whether they go 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. I’m more inclined to see Klinsmann at least start out in a 4-4-2, with the 4-3-3 becoming an option in the second half if the team still needs a goal or two.

What do you think of the projected lineup? Who are you hoping gets the call? If you were the coach, would you go 4-4-2 or 4-3-3?

Share your thoughts below.

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86 Responses to Who should the USMNT start vs. Antigua & Barbuda?

  1. Al DiFranco says:

    I prefer your first line-up to start, with EJ coming on for Kljestan if we are having difficulty scoring or EJ in for Dempsey to rest Deuce if multi-goal lead is the result late. Jones in for Bradley in second half if match is in hand to avoid MB getting a second yellow

    • Kaka says:

      Wondo should be starting

      • wiger toods says:

        OFF TOPIC

        According to US Soccer the game is on beIN sport, but when I checked this morning in my Comcast cable guide, they are showing different games. Guesses anyone?

        • Nick says:

          The English version of beIN isn’t on Comcast yet. They only carry the Spanish version, which is completely different programming. Allegedly, the Spanish version has the replay of US-Antigua at 3am, so, try to be oblivious to the match, set the DVR, and watch it Saturday morning instead.

    • Two Cents says:


      Corona for Dempsey/Shea
      Klestjan/Williams for Bradley/Jones
      EJ for Gomez

  2. AdamTheRed says:

    Jurgen will find some fecking way to get Jones on the field…I am certain of it!

    • Jermaine Jones says:

      So it’s your opinion that a regular starter for one of Europe’s top ~20 teams isn’t good enough for the USMNT?

      So he picks up a yellow card more than some other guys. So what? He adds teeth and desire and strength to the squad and he is easily one of our 11 best players and should be on the field whenever possible.

      • Datrufth says:

        I agree with jones being out there, but to spark more offense you have to pick either jones or bradley.

        When you have them both on the field, bradley doesnt know where to be and freaks out when being pressured. You have two guys with no enough ball possession skills.

      • Jared says:


  3. Sarasota says:

    I would replace Klejstan with Corona. Corona is simply a more skilled, albeit younger, attacking player. ( I know it won’t happen) I would definitely not play in a 4-3-3. We play horribly in that formation.

    • Eurosnob says:

      I would also like to see Corona get a nod over Klejstan, particularly since Corona will help with maintaining possession and Klejstan is ill suited to play as a wide midfielder. This is not a knock on Klejstan, but starting him as a wide mid is setting him up for a failure. At least, we are not facing Jamaica with their speed and athleticism.

    • Ezra says:

      I too would like to see Corona given a shot. People keep citing he lack of experience with the USMNT as a reason to pick Klejstan. But the guy plays in the Liga MX, Antigua and Barbuda should be no problem for him.

    • TomG says:

      Not sure if I agree that he’s more skilled. He’s certainly very skilled for his age, but Sacha has always had pretty good skills and he’s had more time and experience to hone them. Corona has better speed, though, and may be better suited to the wing. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him out there. I suppose it all depends on who hits a better cross in training.

  4. Mat says:

    I see JK trot out a 4-3-3 formation

    ——Dempsey—Gomez—————Zusi –

    —————Bradley——– — Jones —-Williams————————



  5. mistadobolina says:

    SBI, i was thinking the exact same. Start out with the 442 and bring EJ on for Sasha later on when they move to the 433. Although i would be surprised if he goes for the opposite: taking EJ or Dempsey off after we have solid lead and switching to a holding midfield plan.

  6. rick says:

    I am worried a bit about Parkhurst’s lack of speed. Besides that, we should be fine.

  7. Dinho says:

    While I understand your reasoning behind the Boca exclusion, I don’t see it happening, especially playing on the road. I think we see Boca in place of Goodson, at least until (hopefully) we secure a comfortable lead. If we’re up by two goals or more, the Boca gets a rest at the 60th minute. As does Bradley (sitting on a yellow). Can someone remind me who else is in yellow card accumulation trouble?

    I worry that we see Beckerman and Bradley with Zusi on the left and Williams deployed as a right sided midfielder AGAIN.

    • HoboMike says:

      I was wondering how Bradley is sitting on a yellow? Didn’t he sit out the prior two matches?

      I thought that even if you weren’t called up, the games counted towards your card accumulation (which is why he served his 3 match suspension for yelling at the refs during the Gold Cup, where the US brought a C team).

  8. SilverRey says:

    Does anyone know of any bars that are going to be showing this game in NE Philly?

  9. NickCO says:


    Williams because he had a soild Jamaica game, JJ is injured and is carrying a yellow card (which he is certain to get). He’ll be back for Guatamala to boss the 6 spot. Edu can help out if Boca gets beat until Johnson is back. If he can’t play CB agains A&B, he shouldn’t be on this team. We are screwed if anyone gets injured or can’t go the full 90.

  10. Big Chil says:

    I’m not sure about the assumption (including by JK in his interviews) that AyB bunker down heavily. They don’t have anything to lose, and surely they’ve looked at the USA – Jamaica film and saw the 14 corners and umpteen shots that hit the frame. They may come out attacking for the home crowd and to try and put us on our heels and get the first score, then bunker and counter.

    • Darwin says:

      Most of the players play for Antigua Barracuda FC, who finished 11th place in the USL Pro…that is the third tier of American soccer. They should never put us on out heels. I’m with Jimmy Conrad…why worry about A&B? Guatemala is the real opponent.

      • neilla says:

        Well, if memory serves our win over A&B at home flattered to deceive, which is worth keeping in mind now that we’re playing them on the road. Unfortunately we’ve dropped too many points earlier in this round to take anyone lightly at this stage.

  11. Andy in Atlanta says:

    to all the haters I have personally come across in the past 4 years as I defender one Edward Johnson…. yes… that is correct…EJ may play an important role in the US qualifying for the World Cup….

    1 thing that has always annoyed me about the soccer blog commenting community… people refuse to accept that players can improve over time… EJ has improved a great deal since his days as a KC Wizard (or Dallas Burn) player… he is a more complete player now thanks to several people… Dave Jones (Cardiff City), Hector Cuper (Aris FC), Mark Hughes (Fulham), Phil Brown (Preston NE), Sigi Schmid (Sounders). All have worked on the project that is and was EJ and I think he is going to deliver for us these next two matches in a big big way with no Jozy.

    • Darwin says:

      to all the haters I have personally come across in the past 4 years as I defender one Edward Johnson…. yes… that is correct

      Good for you. I let the play on the field dictate. As an old Burn FC Dallas fan, I was in love with EJ, then hated him. No he has just about earned my respect again. Isn’t that how it should be?

    • Amru says:

      I do not doubt that he has improved, I just don’t think he has the ball control or soccer IQ for the international level

      • SD Atherly says:

        He did a pretty good job of thumping Marathon in CONCACAF Champions league. Maybe you missed that.

      • swoopy says:

        I completely disagree … This comment makes me wonder if you’ve seen any of his games this year. Against Portland EJ scored a left-footed half-volley with the ball coming across his body from the left wing — a very underrated goal. We’ve also been watching him absolutely blow by defenders and also setting up his strike partner, not to mention scoring more headers than probably anyone in the MLS. The IQ comment is ridiculous if you watch him play. Just because he’s into the stepovers doesn’t mean he can’t play.

  12. SilverRey says:

    On a separate note, is Tim Howard slouching or is MB really that tall?

  13. Mike Z says:

    Klinsmann should have talked to Timmy Chandler (sounds like from Chandler’s comments he would have come). He would be a great option at left back right now. Klinsmann’s unwillingness to at least bring Altidore into camp to evaluate him in person and not even trying to call Chandler seems like a bit of ego trip.

    • HoboMike says:

      Come on. Of course Chandler made it seem like he would accept the call-up. He hasn’t, three significant times in a row. I am fully 100% on board with Klinsmann not calling up up for these games. Sends the wrong message to the rest of the team.

  14. The Imperative Voice says:

    On hand:
    Dolo Cameron Goodson Boca
    Jones Bradley Williams
    Zusi Gomez Dempsey

    Chandler Cameron Boca Lichaj
    Dempsey Jones Bradley [Donovan]
    Gomez Boyd

    • K-man says:

      I am in the camp of people wondering why JK is leaving Lichaj out. Given the rash of players unavailable, Is there any reason not to bring him in? I see only upsides to including him at this point. Refusing to do so seems unaccountably bizarre.

  15. The Imperative Voice says:

    Since some have offered a similar perspective on Lichaj at LB, I’m just going to ask whether the F situation has reached the point where Davies should get re-considered. I understand he’s seen as not the same player, but his 11 goals for DC recently are still in the neighborhood of what EJ and Gordon produce, that’s post-injury, and he’s a classier player. Part of the problem with the sometimes-applied club form standard run over players by JayKayButNotJamiroquai is we’re losing some of the focus on who simply plays best in the red white blue. That once was Davies. Altidore, similar level, not as much as Gomez/ Donovan/ Dempsey/ but bench slot it is. EJ, not so much in years. Gordon, never. [FWIW, Wondo’s never done anything in the shirt either.] It’s just weird, you’d ideally give everyone the Altidore treatment — what have you done for me lately — just not to his degree.

  16. josh says:

    I feel like this is what we’ll see…


    Not that this is what I would hope for, I just think it is what JK will do.

  17. Darwin says:

    The first lineup has an apparent lack of athleticism up top. It that is needed against this opponent, then I say including GAM in your second lineup is the right choice. However, we could replace Gomez with Corona:


    We don’t get the most out of Bradley in this lineup, but he provides Kljestan with support to surge forward and combine with the forwards and outside backs.

    • Hogatroge says:

      Getting the most out of Bradley should be priority #1, followed by getting the most out of Dempsey and getting the most out of our defense.

  18. Brain Guy says:

    Should yellow card accumulation figure into lineup decisions? Who’s at risk of susoension vs. Guatemala?

    If it’s not pouring rain like it was in the first match, I think the US wins handily.

  19. Alonso says:

    I like the 2nd line up, would like to see Corona though, think he would bring better ball handling skills, but I feel we should be fine.

  20. ELAC says:

    I like the 4-3-3 but that might be too ballsy given the lack of players.

  21. divers suck says:

    SBI, if you, presumably, have Boca “resting” for this match, why do you have ‘dolo in both matches? What makes you think that Boca couldn’t do what an older ‘dolo could do…Your logic escapes me. Also, I see EJ or Gordon getting a bit more time because they have the best aerial game when compared to Dempsey and Gomez. All contigent on what kind of strategy Klinsmann has in mind, of course…..

    • Hogatroge says:

      If Fabian can play against Guatemala, Parkhurst could fill in at RB.

      Remember, he was about the only US player that looked half decent in Kingston.

  22. Goalscorer24 says:

    The 1st line up is solid. Please no Beckerman!

    • JRP says:

      I know. He played horribly in one game and held his own in nearly a dozen other games, including the historic victory at Azteca where he completed 100 percent of his passes. Let’s never give him a minute again.
      That said, I agree that in Brazil he should get very, very few minutes if everyone else is healthy. In fact, he may not even make that roster and maybe shouldn’t.
      But this is A&B for crying out loud.

  23. Freddy says:

    Antigua doesn’t concern me. We could trot out a 2-3-5 and we SHOULD be fine. Guatemala is a different story. Also, what is Joe Corona’s natural position?

    I would go with this for Antigua. For me Bocanegra when fit is an unquestioned starter, but if things are going great, I would sub him out early in this match so he is fresh for GUA.


  24. Dimidri says:






    • OPMG says:

      +1 I would lose a lot of money betting on seeing this starting XI though. But I would love it, a midfield that can actually posses the ball and attack? I might never live to see the day we don’t trot out 3 DM’s and then wonder why we’re not scoring goals.

    • THomas says:

      Wow utterly epic fail on the formatting.

  25. biff says:

    I do not see either Hercules Gomez or Boca starting this key away game on the bench. Goodson did not look good against Jamaica September 7 (nor did he get a yellow card, according to Concacaf) and Boca is still the man. And Herc is a man I have no doubt Klinsmann trusts completely and wants on the field. I like Danny Williams, but at this point think Jermaine Jones is better both defensively and offensively and if healthy will start, as this is a match that we absolutely have to win and no room for error. But if Jones is not 100% fit then Williams will start. Between Bradley and Jones, I think Jones is the better defensive player and would put him behind Bradley. **Disclaimer: It is possible Klinsmann would start Cameron at right back, his current club position, and either Edu or Goodson (with Boca) as central defender and move dolo over to to left back.





    • Dinho says:

      I like this lineup but I don’t see JK starting Corona at an away match. More likely to see SK. Hope I’m wrong and you’re right though!

      I agree that Williams starts if Jones can’t go.

  26. Godfrey Ingram says:

    Sacha has pictures!

  27. Felix says:

    I like the first lineup first as well.
    I wouldn’t be shocked to see him bench Boca for the first game and use Edu over Goodson (based on prior comments), not my preference, but I’m going on what I think JK will do.
    Also, I am perfectly OK with not starting JJ, I think he’s a turnover and foul machine, but JK seems to play him whenver he can, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he used a three man midfield with Bradley and JJ as duel #8s and Williams as the #6.

  28. JungleMan says:

    According to ussoccer.com, the guys with Yellows are: F. Johnson, jones, Bradley, Zusi, Adu.

    Johnson is already being held out. Edu is probably on the bench. I would hold out Jones, and cross my fingers on Bradly and Zusi.

  29. Matt C in Tampa says:

    Folks, maybe it’s just me…but has anyone bothered to look at the forecast…the tropics…regardless of whether the system will have a name by Friday night…it will be raining in the islands mon.

    we need our “mudder” line up.

    • Matt C in Tampa says:


  30. Swiss says:

    Doesn’t matter who they start, they should beat Antigua 3-0 and Guatemala at least 2-0 or 2-1.

  31. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Obvious lineup is

    Gomez Dempsey
    Sacha Bradley Zusi
    Parkhurst Boca Cameron dolo

    But I’d worry a lot about losing Bocanegra and Bradley.

  32. PD loves the new SBI look says:

    lineup 1, on the condition Sasha loses the porn ‘stache…

  33. that guy says:


  34. MensreaJim says:

    A little late to the party, but that lineup in the picture above is sobering. That is (with the exception of probably Williams for Edu and maybe Cameron for someone else, and Jozy depending on the alignment of the stars, etc.) probably our best lineup we can put out there. And it tied Guatemala. We need to score some goals.

    By my figuring, we can basically secure passage to the Hex by pounding A+B tomorrow. Is there any reason we shouldn’t hammer these guys? If we play aggressively, is there any real chance they consistently beat us (and Timmy) on the counter?

    • jon says:

      perhaps we should hammer them, but when they put 11 athletic guys behind the ball, much easier said then done

  35. chris_thebassplayer says:


  36. Todd says:

    This is why we should have Todd Dunivant and Jay Demerit back on the National radar.

  37. BrianSLO says:



  38. biff says:

    Just struck me looking at the photo above of the starters in the US vs Guatemala match in June. We had all the top guys starting then, including Donovan and MB who everyone said we missed so much in September against Jamaica, and we still came away with only a measly draw, which is one reason we are in such trouble now. I wonder why we could not have stomped Guatemala in June with our best team? Strange. I mean really weird when you think about it.

  39. Hayes says:

    I would like to see something like this:


    Expect to see Boca in place of Goodson when Cameron on his right. I think Dempsey is more effective finding the holes in behind the forwards and making late runs in the box. It would cause Parkhurst to push up more and I believe Cameron offers better cover than Boca in behind him.
    Williams would end up really as a number 6 with Bradley having more freedom to combine with Zusi and Dempsey going forward.

  40. bgood says:

    Is it 7 o clock yet?
    My number one concern is getting the first goal on the board. If we are able to do that in the first 10-15 minutes I think we will be fine. If we have to go into halftime tied 0-0 it will make for a very nerve racking 45 minutes. That being said, I think starting Zusi is a no-brainer since his link up work with Dolo was excellent and will give us the ‘width’ JK so desires. Additionally, I would like to see Corona get on the field at some point as he is creative and will make chances out of nothing. I am think 3-0 tonight.

  41. NC Jeff says:

    In addition to a big USMNT win, I’m also hoping that Guat. gets a win. If Guat. wins, they’ll enter the final game knowing that a draw vs. USMNT moves them on. If all 3 things happen, I’ll feel sorry for Jam., but Jamaica will have had their chances (though I also won’t be looking forward to another WCQ in Central America). Now, if Guatemala loses or especially if they draw, look out on the 16th … Guat. will literally try to come out flying.

    • Darwin says:

      I would prefer to see Jamaica at the World Cup again. Their fans are amazing and they love their Reggae Boyz. So what if Guatemala comes out flying, that is exactly the type of tactic that should give us the space to operate.

      Furthermore, I don’t care what happened in Guatemala. The past is the past. With football these days, we could just as easily tie or lose as we could win 3-0. Modern tactics and athletic condition now bring teams closer.

      What really separates teams these days is passion, drive, and inspiration on the pitch.

    • biff says:

      Yeah, I think the worst scenario for the USMNT would be a draw between Guatemala and Jamaica. They would each have 8 points and if we 10, if we win tonight, and then Tuesday would be very interesting.

      As for Jamaica, I would have no sympathy for those thugs if they fail to qualify.