USMNT Daily Update: With Donovan missing from March qualifiers, Klinsmann must consider wing options


When the U.S. Men’s National Team takes the field at Estadio Azteca next month, they will be doing so without Landon Donovan in the starting lineup for the first time since 2001.

The 12 year span since the last time the U.S. didn’t have Donovan for a trip to Azteca might only consist of three matches, but there is something strange about the idea of the leading scorer in U.S. National Team history, and a player so synonymous with the USA-Mexico rivalry, won’t be there.

The reaction to Donovan’s decision to not return to soccer until late March was met with mixed reactions, and understandably so. For a large segment of LA Galaxy fans, at least the ones who aren’t overly passionate about the national team, the news was positive because it means Donovan does plan on coming back and trying to help the Galaxy three-peat as MLS Cup Champions.

For U.S. national team fans, however, the feeling immediately turned to March 26th, and the idea that one of the best teams in the U.S. national team pool will miss an Azteca qualifier because he needs a break.

As you might imagine, there are some pretty angry USMNT fans right now who have lost any sense of patience with Donovan, and as unfortunate as that may be, that doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the U.S. team will account for his absence in the March qualifiers.

As we have noted before, playing without Donovan isn’t exactly a new experience for the national team. He has missed 14 of the team’s past 20 matches, so you would think Jurgen Klinsmann would have had enough opportunities to adjust and deal with Donovan’s absence.

The only problem is there just aren’t many players who provide what Donovan can. Aside from the experience in big U.S. Men’s National Team matches, which only Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley can truly say they have in abundance as U.S. midfielders, Donovan also brings speed, movement and intelligence to the attack.

Klinsmann has auditioned a myriad of candidates trying to catch lightning in a bottle, and nobody has really emerged as a must-start wing option, particularly on the left. Not Graham Zusi or Josh Gatt, or even Eddie Johnson, who has been deployed in a wide role with some moderate success against lesser competition.

Brek Shea could wind up being an option once he is healthy and playing for Stoke City, but it is still not a sure bet that he is ready for the March qualifiers. If Shea can return to action soon, and earn playing time at Stoke, then having him start in the March qualifiers is a strong possibility.

However, if Shea can’t make it back, Klinsmann will have to at least consider the possibility of playing Fabian Johnson on the left wing. Against a team lost Costa Rica, with speed on the flanks, Klinsmann can’t get away with playing Eddie Johnson wide and asking him to handle the defensive responsibilities that come with playing there. Stacking Johnson on the left flank, in front of Michael Parkhurst, who could see regular starts for Augsburg now, or Edgar Castillo, might make the most sense. He could also stack Johnson with Chandler on the left, and have Parkhurst start at right back.

There are other possibilities, such as Brad Davis or Danny Williams or even Michael Bradley on the flanks, and Klinsmann must also consider whether to go with a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, but there is no denying that Donovan’s absence will make Klinsmann’s decisions that much more difficult.

What will this decision mean for Donovan going beyond March? You can’t help but wonder how Klinsmann will take this decision.  Does he ignore Donovan when June rolls around, or does he chalk it all up to Donovan being burned out and needing a rest?

There is no reason to think Donovan won’t be open to a national team return, but could Klinsmann be tempted to turn the page on Donovan’s national team career in favor of giving younger options the opportunity to impress? That might sound far-fetched, but Klinsmann has already shown that he isn’t afraid to try things that might seem risky, like not calling in Jozy Altidore for October qualifying and starting the inexperienced Omar Gonzalez over captain Carlos Bocanegra in Honduras.

Ultimately, unless several players step their game up, Klinsmann doesn’t seem likely to have the luxury of leaving Donovan home or buried on the bench if he returns from his sabbatical with the fire and desire to be a top player again. If Donovan hits the ground running in MLS, and lets it be known he wants back on the national team, Klinsmann will have little choice but to make room for him.

And how will the team receive him? Don’t expect things to change all that much. The national team locker room isn’t about to turn on him for this latest disappearance. Might he be losing some respect among his peers, especially younger players who haven’t been through qualifying and World Cups with Donovan? Sure, that is possible, but you also still have a nucleus of veterans who are no strangers to how Donovan is, and who will accept him back in the fold because he makes the team better.

Ultimately that is all that matters, so if and when Donovan is ready to return to the national team, there will still be a place for him. Teammates will still pass him the ball and the team will still be looking for him to be a leader.

Does that mean his absence from the March qualifiers doesn’t tarnish his reputation at least a little. It is safe to say it does, but it is also safe to say that if he’s back in a U.S. national team uniform in June, and plays well and helps the Americans win key qualifiers, nobody will be talking about the games he missed in March for very long.

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149 Responses to USMNT Daily Update: With Donovan missing from March qualifiers, Klinsmann must consider wing options

  1. PD says:

    pardon my ignorance, but are Mixx Diskerrud or Paco Torres able to be conscripted into service on the flanks? I know they are more naturally central players, but they have skill sets that are conducive to creativity.

    • ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

      Gag. If Klinsmann had the common freaking sense to play players in their natural positions (ie Sacha and Torres centrally and not out wide), I think our offense would be more productive. We need speed and width on the wings, and Paco and Mixx would provide neither. The failure to call in Gatt or Beasley for the Honduras qualifier is unacceptable in my opinion.

      • PD says:

        don’t get me wrong, I think that natural wingers should be used in that position first, just trying to think through depth options.

    • PetedeLA says:

      Torres has been tried there a bunch of times. He’s been adequate, but not really good each time. We tend to struggle against Costa Rica.

      Diskerud hasn’t been played there yet, as far as I know.

      Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with either of them starting.

  2. dan says:

    I am an LA Galaxy fanatic and USMNT fanatic. I am pretty pissed off. I feel that Donovan is being very selfish now and thinks he is bigger than his team and country. In any other league in the world they wouldn’t have put up with this and probably wouldve benched him upon return and took away some wages. National team would’ve probably thrown him to the abyss for at least a while. Problem with MLS and the USA is we don’t have the depth to do this, and Donovan knows this, therefor he is even more wrong in my book b/c of this. The Galaxy can’t simply replace him, we have a salary cap. The USA can’t simply replace him b/c we don’t have that sort of depth (at least not yet).

    Donovan has lost A TON of respect from me with his “break.” If you want a break retire. Don’t hold your team hostage by saying you will come back but not until the season is well under way and missing Champions League, MLS and US national qualifiers

    • Jamie Z. says:

      I can’t wait till Donovan comes back so I’m no longer plagued by these inane posts!

      Seriously, what is there to say that hasn’t been said already? We get it. There are two schools of thought, and you’re of either one or the other. Either Donovan is a selfish crybaby who owes it to us, the fans, to do whatever we want him to do whenever we want him to do it OR Donovan is an adult human being who has decided he needs some time to sort out his headspace and he’ll come back to his job if and when he feels it’s the right time to do so. You’re of the former. Great. But as far as I’m aware, no new light has been shed on this and everybody is just spinning their wheels on this thing.

      • PD says:

        The third thing to consider is that if he’s not at 100% do you really want him on the field? if it’s an ankle sprain or “funny feelings inside” it’s still keeping him from being at his best.

        now if his 75% is still better than someone else’s 120% that’s one thing, but I think until he’s available for a callup the USMNT has to move on and waste as little time hand wringing as possible. We’ve been forced to do that before with other important players (Charlie Davies and Stuart Holden immediately come to mind), perhaps few as important as LD has been, but that’s life.

        • Vic says:

          Beckham said late last season that Donovan doesn’t look like a guy who’s ready to retire. The reason Beckham said that is even though Donovan was burnt out he still gave 100% on the field. Whether Donovan comes back to the USMNT or retires after this season is a legitimate question. However, Donovan NOT trying while he’s on the field isn’t.

        • Chadwick Blues says:

          It’s impossible to give 120%.

      • wandmdave says:

        I’d argue that since he’s under contract he does owe the Galaxy something regardless of what the fans think. If anyone besides a top flight athlete decided I’m not sure if I want to come to work until I decide my heart is in it then they’d get canned without anyone thinking twice. Why should he get that luxury?

        As for the national team he doesn’t owe that program or the fans anything. However it does show how little he cares for the program and its fans so I don’t see why we should want him back. I’d rather not qualify than grovel and beg someone to play for our team.

        • wandmdave says:

          And hell even if I got past my pride how can he be trusted not to disappear next year before the Cup at which point it would have been better to get his successor experience instead of letting Donovan coast in for the second half of qualifying.

          • GW says:

            1. You have identified his successor? When you identify him then we can talk about getting him much needed PT.

            2. You can lose any of these players at any time to any number of things, injury, accident, meteorites, cruise ships w/o power. No sense in crying about the possibilities.

        • Scott says:

          He owes the Galaxy what? He can retire today. He is not retiring because they are begging him to stay. He says, OK, but I need more time off. They say, OK. He gets that luxury because they folded when he said, I retire. Then they lost their macho attitude and said OK. Can you come back soon? Please? You are cocky because you can run your mouth and your job doesn’t depend on it. They negotiate because they have money on the table and losing Donovan puts that money at risk. It is the difference between pouting and business.

        • Leo says:

          Hm. Oddly enough, one of my co-workers told his manager he was burnt out and needed a break. He didn’t know when he’d be back, but off he went to Scotland and to bike through Europe for an indeterminate period of time. His manager told him to come back when he was ready.

          I think it’s a matter of how many people in the world can fill the job role that you do. I guess no one can fill this guy’s role.

    • Yusef says:

      We don’t see this in other leagues because the regular season actually means something in them. Not sure how many other leagues in the world can have a champion with a losing record.

      • GW says:


        Donovan knew he wasn’t leaving the Galaxy in trouble because the first part of the season is meaningless.

    • Scott says:

      He could just tell you to kiss his a$$ and retire, then where would you be. You have done nothing for him, the USMNT or soccer in general. What exactly does he owe you? As far as who else would put up with this? Any team that needs a player as bad as the Galaxy, MLS and USMNT need Donovan. Soccer is a job. Donovan is rich and has been doing this his whole life. Provide him an interesting challenge or he retires. I will bet that if you were rich, you would quit your current job in a heartbeat. You probably wouldn’t even care if people liked the way you cooked the burgers and fries…you would just walk away.

  3. Francois says:

    Fabian Johnson above Michael Parkhurst? Why wouldn’t he put FJ above Edgar Castillo if he is healthy? That line made no sense to me. I mean, sure,Parkhurst played there against Guatemala at home and did decently, but Costa Rica is much better and Edgar Castillo is a much better left back than Parkhurst.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Is Castillo definitely a much better left back? Not so sure. Castillo might have an edge, but not sure it’s a lock he’s clearly better. He provides more getting forward, but has never been the most sound defender. That doesn’t mean Parkhurst is a lockdown left back, but I’d say I’ve seen one of those guys put in a decent showing at left back in qualifying and it wasn’t Castillo. I included Castillo in the sentence though so the option is considered.

      • Francois says:

        Alright, but I do think he has an advantage in key areas over Parkhurst that could be valuable in the system JK has been using. He has advantages in speed, attacking ablity, and passing ability. I think those things are what make him a much better option at left back, along with being naturally left-footed.

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          This is true. You could also go with Chandler at left back and Parkhurst at right back, which I will now add to the post. Thanks for the dialogue.

          • Francois says:

            Of course, Ives! Been reading the blog since I was 16 and first fell in love with beautiful game after my trip to Germany during the 2006 World Cup, and it is the first website I go to when I open my internet browser. Keep up the good work, and thanks for all the info you provide!

      • Francois says:

        Also, I missed that part about you including Castillo. My apologies.

        • Vic says:

          Why not just keep Johnson at LB and put Castillo at LM?

          • Francois says:

            That could work too, but I believe Fabian is a better attacker. He was our best player against Slovenia last year when deployed as the left midfielder, and shows a great attacking acumen when he pushes forward.

          • Colin in MT says:

            My exact thought. FJ is stronger defensively than Castillo but Castillo gets into the attack well. That’s what he’s asked to do for TJ

          • beachbum says:

            I like the idea, Edgar is midfielder in many ways, and perhaps fits the apparent requirement from JK to be a defender in that position where many are instead hoping for more width/speed/attacking ability, although JK might have a different idea at home in Colorado tactically, and a lot will depend on the system JK chooses

      • GW says:

        If Dolo is back you might be better off doing this wingback thing with Chandler in front of Dolo.

    • biff says:

      Agreed, Castillo should now be considered, at the very least, second choice left back behind Fabian Johnson. And, if Johnson’s form continues weak, I think a strong case can be made to start Castillo and leave Fabian on the bench as a super sub.

      As for Parkhurst, he is playing right back for Augsburg, not left back, and, except in an emergency, RB should be his position on the USMNT. And I also think a case could be made for starting Parkhurst over Chandler, despite Chandler providing his — count ‘em — second assist of the season on Sunday.

      • Ives Galarcep says:

        Johnson has one bad game, a game where most players had bad days, and now he’s in danger of his “form continuig weak”? That’s a bit silly Biff. Johnson is miles better than anybody else at left back. U.S. simply isn’t good enough to afford to have him coming off the bench. That’s fantasy.

        • biff says:

          Well, Ives Galarcep, I have been a big fan of Fabian from the very beginning and am well aware of his talents. But his club form has not been particularly good this season and in recent USMNT games (not just the Honduras game) he has been relatively weak. Meanwhile, Castillo has generally been strong while playing for a top team against the kinds of players we will be facing with Costa Rica and Mexico. Depending on their respective form in six weeks, it might be silly to leave Castillo (who does not have to make the long flight from Europe) on the bench to play a mentally and physically exhausted Fabian Johnson whose club team is falling apart.

          But what I think would be even sillier would be for Klinsmann to start tinkering with the fullbacks, playing them out of the club positions, for example to go with Chandler at left back and Parkhurst at right back or stacking Johnson on the left flank, in front of Michael Parkhurst or Edgar Castillo or to stack Johnson with Chandler on the left and have Parkhurst start at right back. This is the sort ridiculous tinkering that Klinsmann is now famous for and that many of us are sick of.

          Wouldn’t it make more sense to call in an in-form Beasley for left wing, or even a not in 100% form Brek Shea, and then keep Parkhurst and Chandler as right backs and Johnson and Castillo as left backs and bite the bullet and make a decision who plays (that’s why he’s gettin’ the big bucks) rather than to tinker, tinker, tinker…

        • Jack says:

          I agree, Ives.

          Fabian J – Boca – Cameron – Chandler or Dolo

          That’s the back line. I would play these guys CONSISTENTLY in qualifiers, no more shifting players around.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      Or you could give Castillo a shot at LM with Fab behind him. Still, Fab is the closest player we have to LD, at some point we need to put a serviceable defender at LB at move him upfield.

  4. Murphy says:

    Unbelievable that the U.S. has to deal with this from one of its best players. Klinsmann should make him work his way back on to the team by the September qualifiers..

    Question: how long is Cherundolo out? I can’t remember. Will he be definitely hurt for these matches? If he is back, then Chandler could move to the left, with Fabian Johnson at left midfield. I hope Shea is ready by then, he would be a good option on the left. One thing is for sure, it can’t be Eddie Johnson. He has played well but he will get destroyed at that position vs. Mexico.

    • Al17 says:

      considering what Donovan has contributed to the national team and seeing how JK et al bended over backwards and then some while Chandler’s ass dilly dallied on making a decision to play for the US (in other words will Deutschland ever call me up), Donovan can take as much as time as he needs (IMO). Hell, remember JK is a GREAT manager, so under him we don’t really need Donovan.
      It would be NICE to have Donovan back but even with him we could still have massive issues thanks to our current manager.
      Whatever Donovan decides to do, he’s earned the right for US Soccer fans to support him and that’s what I’m doing. He’s delivered for us more than enough times and he’s even carried this team, so he’s got my support 100%.

    • Vic says:

      I doubt that will happen. If you consider Klinnsmann let Altidore back after dropping him for only one game. Altidore publicly insulted Klinnsmann and has totally lacked production. The only thing Donovan has done is ask for an extended break.

    • chris says:

      You mean like how he let Chandler earn his way back on the team? Oh he didnt but its different right?

    • Scott says:

      Well Murphy. You just proved your own law. You just went wrong…

  5. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    From a fan standpoint it just really disappointing. I mean he’ll have been off for about four months, right? So what’s the big deal if he had been off for three months or off for three and a half months, still giving himself time to be ready for the March qualifiers? When you look at his importance to the team, and the fact all we’re asking for is a few weeks less of a break so he can help the team in some very important qualifiers, it starts to seem very selfish. Let’s hope we win the qualifiers without him. Proving it is possible to win the big games without him.

    • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

      Sorry, I forget to add, even if we do with without him, we’re still a much better team with him. Damn you Donovan! I just can’t quit you!

  6. neilla says:

    I think the big question here is the same as it has been the entirety of the Klinsmann Era, if not before: is it better to play true wingers who are potentially weaker players, and certainly less-experienced, or to shoehorn in your 4 – 5 most talented, more-experienced, midfielders into the field even if all of them are most comfortable as CMs of one stripe or another?

    From a risk-aversion standpoint, there’s a lot to be said for the latter, but then that’s the exact approach which ushered us to a defeat against Honduras a couple of weeks ago. One thing that would help is to use Bradley as a two-way player, as he seems to be used for his club sides, rather than letting him sink deeper and deeper to the point that he’s practically playing behind the other CDMs.

    • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

      Anyone else getting as worried as I am that Bradley seems to have lost his starting role with his new coach?

      • Steve says:

        I think it’s too early to be concerned. Plus he will get the start next match with De Rossi out on yellow card accumulation.

        • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

          How does he lose it by the way. Admittedly I don’t get to see hi games but from what I read he’s usually one of the better players on the team. No?

          • Dennis says:

            I think Bradley has performed well at Roma, He certainly was an important part of the team in the first half of the season when DeRossi was not. The new coach did not start him and when he did go in it was for a player with a different skill set ( I think Bradley is less a dribbler and less focussed on taking a shot, but a better passer and defender than the guy he replaced). I would mark it down as the tactical choice the coach made, not so much pro or con Bradley.

      • Freddy says:

        He probably has. But I highly doubt that will affect his confidence. He’ll just work that much harder to get it back.

  7. Steve says:

    I am pretty disappointed about LD missing Azteca. If you are going to miss that match it kind feels like is it worth have someone with so little passion playing out the rest of the hex? Does he actually care about making it to Brazil in 2014.

    In other news, Shea got in another 60 minutes today:

    link to

    • Steve says:

      Knowing he is out…guess I am hoping for this:


      I know this plays Chandler out of position, but to me, this lineup contains the least number of position players playing outside the position they play for their club.

      • fliffy says:

        Wow, for March? That’s a pretty risky back line. I don’t know if it would work or not, but if Klinsmann tried it, I would at least applaud his courage.

        • Steve says:

          It is an untested CB pairing. However, it seems to me that JK is resolved to move on to the next gen. Maybe sub Boca for Besler.

  8. Jake says:

    Mexico has the same situation with vela and vela is a better player than Landon. If Mexico can hang without carlitos we can hang without landycakes.

  9. Freddy says:

    The lineup I wouldn’t mind seeing against El Tri.






    Yes, I’m playing for a draw.

    • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

      I don’t know what to think about Jozy anymore. He’s had a career year on the club level but he has not been getting it done for Nats for while now. I’m torn between him getting more (likely unproductive) opportunities or giving chances to younger forwards to see if the they can get it done (i.e.: Boyd, et al.) Thoughts?

      • Dennis says:

        It is hard to fault a striker for not scoring when he so seldom gets the ball. In most of the games the US has had (especially Italy, Russia, Mexico despite the good result, or Honduras) the US did not do much of the attacking. I think that Altodore and Wondo are the best scoriong threats the US has at forward. Boyd is playing an a league less than MLS, Gomez has always been hot and cold. What younger guys do you think would score more than Wondo or Altidore and what evidence consistency is there for any of them that they would actually merit such a chance? EJ is probably in the mix, but he is no longer young.

      • Coach Beck says:

        For a team that is suppose to be attacking and fluid under new management, we provide some of the poorest service to anyone in a target forward role you will see. We seldom get the ball to the feet of strikers in striking position. Not a knock on anyone just a serious weakness the Nats have.

        • Coach Beck says:

          Just to follow up I think we have some guys that provide service but they are weak defensively we lack a lot of two way players at the international level. Sorry guys we are what we are.

    • Freddy says:

      Back to Landon, since we can’t predict kind kind of mentality he’s going to have from one month to the next, it’s time to move on without him even if we are a better team with him. He’s no good to us if he’s going to play like 2006 World Cup Landon.

    • PetedeLA says:

      Even on his worst day Fabian Johnson is better than Castillo.

      Parkhurst over Chandler at right back? Idk.

      • Freddy says:

        I agree with Johnson being better than Castillo. But this is the sort of environment Castillo is accustomed to, Johnson isn’t. I believe that will give Castillo the advantage.

        I picked Parkhurst over Chandler because of Chandler’s horrible performance against El Salvador.

    • biff says:

      Hey, Freddy, I like your line-up, but would make a few minor changes.

      ——————–Eddie J.—————————





      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

        even the thought of leaving Michael Bradley out of your starting lineup is kind of a joke. there should not be Player X/MB on the team sheet. Bradley is an unquestioned starter along with Howard and Dempsey.

        • Fredo says:

          I’d start Edu over Bradley at the #6 and I’d start Torres over Bradley at the CAM position. I don’t think Jr. is a for sure starter given that he’s not a very good destroyer nor is he good at creating or attacking. I’ve posted this over and over. Jr. is ok at holding mid and that’s it. If we want to score goals and win we need more from our central midfielders.

          • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

            I’m sorry but that is just wrong. Bradley is a 100% starter. He is arguably our best player and by far our best midfielder.

            Also, Torres is not an attacking mid. He is a deep lying midfielder that helps with ball retention. I think he could still have a role on the team to play but its not at CAM.

            • Fredo says:

              Your description of Torres just described Jr. Torres, at his club teams, moves the ball forward as a center mid better than Jr. Hence, my argument.

              • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

                why did I even bother? nevermind

              • Pirithous says:

                You are honestly arguing not only that Torres and Bradley play the same role at their club teams, but also that Torres is better at it? There’s really no arguing with that.

          • beachbum says:

            back to MB being the problem in midfield??? did you see the team without him in midfield? JK tried it, folks like you preached it, just replace MB and you’ll all see…….

            and the evidence says? Wrong

            but now back that eh?

            • Fredo says:

              Yes, I’ve watched every game and yes it’s back to that.

            • CroCajun1003 says:

              There’s more to football than scorers, creators, and defenders. You also need players that maintain possession and control the pace. That’s what Bradley does, and he’s very good at it. To leave suggest he should be left off b/c he neither score nor creates is laughable.

              Tell that to players like Xavi, De Rossi, and Arteta.

              • Fredo says:

                I’m talking about the USMNT not Spain or Italy who can and do play different styles than us. I’m suggesting, again, that we need someone in central midfield who provides more than ball movement.

              • GW says:

                Mikey currently has what used to be Reyna’s job,.the time keeper role i.e. he is always showing well for the ball and he generally decides what tempo the team will try to play at.

                And once he has put the ball into play for the offense he is very good at trailing plays and supporting his teammates..

                He is not the US’ best player, that is Donovan, but he is the one who is probably playing the best lately. Cantona would have called Mikey a water carrier, the guy who does the dirty work.

                He is a very good all around player whose greatest virtue is his consistency.

                He is a good defender but calling him a central defensive midielder is a misnomer. Reyna was a regular for Rangers at right back but he was much
                more than just a right back.

                Even if Donovan comes back in good form, the US will need another playmaker. someone like the guy Corona or Gomez are supposed to be when they are at their best..

      • Hogatroge says:

        Oh yeah… not to mention leaving Bradley off for some reason. What are you smoking, biff?

        • biff says:

          I didn’t leave MB off, Hogatroge. In Jones/MB slot, Klinsmann would have to choose either MB and JJ. And, geez, guys, I was just responding quickly to Freddy’s post and my new motto for WCQ games going forward is “only two DMs on the field at the same time” and Torres for his club is a DM and I do think we need more Latin flavor for the upcoming WCQ games. At the same time, I do see advantages to pairing up Jones and MB, but in the past, for one reason or another, the chemistry has never been that good.

          • Dennis says:

            Gee Biff, I remember when I was one of the few buys on here saying MB was great and most were trashing him, I thought unfairly. My how times have changed, now if you merely suggest MB might have only a 50/50 chance of starting, you get a pretty sound rebuke of that position.

    • Rainmaker says:

      I think this lineup would be playing for a loss. Just because you put a bunch of guys on the field that play in the Mexican league (Castillo, Torres, and Beasely) doesn’t mean it’ll end well. We need the best players out there and that surely does not include Torres and Castillo at this point in time

    • ed - houston says:

      get a REAL defense and we’ll talk.

    • Hogatroge says:

      Leaving out Cameron, the unquestionable MVP of the last (only) win at Azteca and the only US centerback in mid-season form (yes I know he has yet to play CB at Stoke) is laughable.

      • biff says:

        I am huge fan of Cameron, H. But he has not been playing CB for Stoke, was mainly playing RB until the last game when he was ATTACKING MIDFIELDER–yes, this is true. I am concerned if he is not playing CB for his club that he can keep CB form for the USMNT.

  10. el paso tx says:

    So if Lebron james or some hockey player or even Christiano Ronaldo says, im tired and need a vacation due to my exwife getting a better divorce settlement, i have played to much minutes and need a break, i have done national play and I JUST NEED A BREAK. Wow, what a dumb thing for donovan to do. Now he wants to skip the Mexico game in azteca and even galaxys concacaf champions games, wow he must be going through some hardcore depression. With that kind of mentality, he will never be leader or was he. American soccer fans need to open their eyes and not say, ohh he deserves it because he’s amazing and has played so much minutes. This is bullcrap on American soccer fans.

    • Jimmy Bobo says:

      I thought Landycakes (yes, we’re back to that now) was just burned out from too much Soccer. That, I can understand. You’re saying his existential crisis is because his former wife dumped him?

      • Byrdman says:

        That has been my belief for long time. If you remember after the goal against Algeria in the post game interview he says hello to Bianka and then nine months later or so she was remarried. Dude fell hard it seems

  11. Josh D says:

    Or we could look at it this way: With Donovan playing the full 90 we’ve lost every game for a decade. With Donovan only playing a little over a half and, once subbed, we score and win 1-0. So with Donovan not even there, we’re bound to win by at least 2!

    In all honesty, we’re beating a dead horse and I wouldn’t want Donovan there in March. He hasn’t played in almost six months so who knows how fit he is, he wasn’t stellar last season, and he’s not committed to the team. I’m more loyal to the guys who have been there the past year and a half – even if they aren’t better.

    I appreciate Donovan as much as the next guy. But I refuse to be the girl who can’t accept her ex has moved on and instead spends every Friday night crying, trying to text and call him, and eating ice cream with strange names.

    • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

      You seem to have great insight on Donovan’s personal life. When did the two of you last speak?

  12. Brian S. says:

    Shouldn’t Beasley be the obvious choice, at least for the Mexico game? He has a boat load of experience in these high pressure games, he plays in the league down there so he is familiar with the atmosphere and altitude, and he has proven in the past few weeks that he still has the talent to play at a high level. I would love to see him line up on the left side. That’s just my two cents though.

    • Vic says:

      Beasley is above average in scoring for a midfielder. He has good speed and can track back defensively. He also has poor touch and poor passing. USA has enough of those players. I would prefer Castillo or Bedoya instead.

      • Brian S. says:

        I will respectfully disagree with you about DB’s passing ability. His knowledge of where the ball needs to be placed and ability to place it there is one of the reasons Donovan has so many goals. Go back and watch the highlight reel that someone posted on this sight last week of all of Donovan’s USMNT goals and you will see what I am talking about. Beasley was involved in a large portion of them with his vision and ability to place the ball where it needed to be.

        • Vic says:

          I totally agree with you Beasley used to play well for USMNT and set up many of Donovan’s goals. The Beasley of 8-10 years ago is an automatic starter in my book. He was PSV’s top scorer when the got to the quarters of Champions League. After his injury he wasn’t the same player. He couldn’t make PSV’s squad or a very mediocre Glasgow Rangers. I haven’t been impressed in his callups in the past few years.

    • Brain Guy says:

      I’m with you, Brian S. It sounds crazy, but it just might work. DB has experience and is still fast enough (and certainly faster than any other realistic option). He has found his form again in Mexico and is definitely worth a shot.

    • biff says:

      @Brian S.–Agree. It would be totally silly not to include Beasley in the discussion of potential left wingers for the upcoming qualifiers. Remember, he played in the historic win in Mexico City last August.

  13. fliffy says:

    I’m a huge USMNT fan and I’m relieved Donovan will be back at least for the three JUNE hex games. They guy wants a break–give him a break. I’m excited that he’ll be back. Not as soon as I would have liked, but I’ll take it. Klinsmann is not stupid enough to keep him out of lineups to prove some petty point. If Donovan is fit, he’ll be on the field.

    Give me that and Holden and Feilhaber also on the plane to Brazil next summer and I’m happy.

    • Hogatroge says:

      No one said he’ll be back in June. That’s simply the earliest he could realistically be back if he does come back.

  14. Riggity says:

    Im a little confused, what does LD owe anyone? Why would players on the NATS lose respect for him? The national team is a group of the 24 best players we have to offer at a certain point, its hillarious how this is such a one way street.(he’s not innform now so who cares) If Donovan rolled his ankle and couldnt play they would leave him behind in a second but if he is on the verge of walking away we get mad at him for taking a few months…he should have just faked an injury…i love my NATS and i sincerely hope Donovan can join us again but all you people saying he is leaving the team high and dry after missing 3 qualifiers give me a break, these arent 3rd graders

  15. Rusty Schakelford says:

    I propose the following… Move FJ to LW. Call in Beasly Move him to RW… Backline as follows…Castillo Cameron Gonzo Chandler

    • Vic says:

      Anytime Bradley tried Beasley on the right side he looked awful. Since Beasley is left footed he needs alot of skill to cut inside which he doesn’t have. Beasley does have speed though. I wouldn’t call up Beasley but if Klinnmann does he should play him on the left.

  16. the original jb says:

    I feel like I’ve been very patient with Klinsmann this far, but I think its time to scrap the 4-3-3 and go back to what all these players know best. We cant expect these young fullbacks to provide all the width! I love Dempsey and he is a top notch poacher, but he is not a creative force as an attacking midfielder. He needs to be up top just underneath Altidore. We then need to try a Klejstan or Zusi in the middle with Bradley. Then bring in Beasley (Shea if in form), and throw Gatt (Corona?) in there as true wingers. I wanted a new attacking system as much as the next guy, but the reality is that is for the next cycle if ever. The best players we have always look their best in the plain ol 4-4-2. There I said it.

  17. Sash says:

    doors to the National team should be closed for Donovan for good! In any other country especially in Europe that would be the case. He cant dictate or decide when he feels like representing his country.

    • Thebumswillalwayslose says:

      Sure he can. For better or worse, Landon (along with everyone else in the world) knows that when he decides to turn it on, he’s one of the 2-3 best players on the US squad and that he instantly makes the team better. Until someone steps up and shows that they can do the same at his particular position, LD can basically do what he wants and we, along with Klinsmann, just have to deal with it.

  18. the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

    It is very strange to me that we have almost no idea what our best 11/best formation is at this point. Almost every person you ask has a different answer.
    We haven’t really been in a true 4-3-3. its been more of an unbalanced formation that forms around Dempsey and relies on the fullbacks to provide width. While I like the idea of building around Dempsey, it just hasn’t worked.

    What is our best formation? Who plays where? Do we sacrifice one of our better players to the bench to try a new formation? Who will be in the back 4? too many question marks for a team this deep into qualifying. It’s troubling.

    • fliffy says:

      It is troubling. I agree.

      We need a couple guys to step up and anchor their positions. Right not it’s just Howard, Bradley, Dempsey. Every other spot is up for grabs. Give me one or two guys on the back line who can play two decent games in a row. Then maybe Jozy finally puts it together and I think we can build from that. I think then suddenly you have the beginnings, especially if Donovan and Shea are in the mix.

      But right now, I don’t know what this team is about. It’s a weird time with older guys possibly phasing out (Donovan, Bocanegra, Cherundolo) and many young guys seemingly not quite ready to take the reigns.

  19. MiamiAl says:

    Its time for Chris Pontius to get into the mix.

  20. Marcello says:

    Ciao Ives,

    I was just wondering, (since you have a better understanding of the qualities of the USMNT players than anyone here primarily because you have been tracking them and have access to them), why Klinsman, and Bob Bradley before him choose to play the “Best XI” even if that means squeezing them into unfamiliar positions or formations/tactics?
    Kinda seems counterproductive. Even the best of National teams like Argentina, Italy, Brazil, Holland, etc tried this approach. Superpowers, such as they are, and it still proved disastrous for them.
    The USA seems strangely lacking in Wing power, whether it be in Defence and/or offense, but the US does seem to have a surplus of decent central midfielder; some more defensive minded and some more offensive.Even so, the team still lacks cohesion. Why not build a set up around that engine? The reason why I mention this is that Juventus had a similar problem 2 years ago and Conte decided to build a Midfield engine type nucleus to the teams approach and tactics. (Pirlo-Marchisio-Vidal) Needless to say it’s worked wonders and even though they lacked offensive firepower in terms of Strikers, they still succeeded to press and provide goals and defensive integrity.
    I would think that with that approach, no formation would be out of the question as long as it’s built around the strength of the “midfield engine”. I personally would like to see a trio of Torres (kljestan)- Bradley(Williams) – Jones (Edu)….. An offensive/creative MID paired with a 2-way/Control type MID with a Defensive/Destryoer MID. A 4-3-2-1 set would seem ideal for the US at the moment keeping that in mind.
    What would seem fit::

  21. jerp says:

    i am hopeful that donovan is rejuvenating for the long distance. in a dream scenario, i could see him playing a role on the 2018 team. if it means him taking a few months off at this point in his career, i am all for it.

  22. chris_thebassplayer says:

    The most interesting thing for me is will JK change his preferred attacking mindset knowing his current starting 11 players can’t pull it off or will he play it safe and defensive, ala BB. So far we’ve been stuck between the the two styles with mediocre results. I doubt he will ever pack it in, so would he be so bold as to go with more youth and dedicate more players to the attack and really push the attack. Basically faced with a team in transition, will he throw caution to the wind, knowing we will give up more goals, to get the offense going…If he does this he runs the risk of eating a cycle to potential advance the one area that we absolutely need to improve, the attacking third. Would the expectation be lowered given the transition of the team…would it be condoned by USSF and fans to potentially advance our ability to play in the attacking third.

    • chris says:

      Hahaha attacking mindset??? A 4-5-1 is no attacking mindset. Its hilarious people actually believe JK has instilled some sort of attacking style. That cant be further from the truth. We have averaged less goals and possession hasnt been anything better than back passes in defence. Its not a lack of ability of the player pool when you play 5 DM’s and expect there to be possession. You cant blame the players for lack of execution in the final third when you’ve got absolutely no width. Jk’s tactics are inherently flawed. How do you expect not to get countered against teams that specialize on the counter when your plan is to have your outside backs provide the width. You cant expect two inexperienced CB’s to hold down the defence.

    • chris says:

      Hahaha attacking mindset??? A 4-5-1 is no attacking mindset. Its hilarious people actually believe JK has instilled some sort of attacking style. That cant be further from the truth. We have averaged less goals and possession hasnt been anything better than back passes in defence. Its not a lack of ability of the player pool when you play 5 DM’s and expect there to be possession. You cant blame the players for lack of execution in the final third when you’ve got absolutely no width. Jk’s tactics are inherently flawed. How do you expect not to get countered against teams that specialize on the counter when your plan is to have your outside backs provide the width. You cant expect two inexperienced CB’s to hold down the defence when they’re covering for the outside backs. Bradley, Jones, Sacha, Altidore, Dempsey, F Johnson, Zusi, are all able to pass and succeed at the club level but when they come to the NT nothing mixes. Thats on the coaches or the tactics or both not the players. Anybody that actually thinks Martin Vasquez is a good coach should be fired right away

      • Chris thebassplayer says:

        Chris, I’m not saying he’s playing attacking soccer. My point was that he isn’t, the formation is stuck in neutral. Expecting defensive coverage and also creative distribution out Dmids with a narrow midfield. My point was open it up and emphasize attacking soccer… do what he was brought in to do and let the chips fall where they may.

    • Dennis says:

      Really, while who will score the goals is a problem most teams struggle with, I think the USA’s biggest issue right now is a back 4 that is not only in transistion, but actually with the exception of Cherundolo, not all that good. Because of that, the US must have 2 midfielders who primarily defend and one or 2 more midfielders who heklp out (a lot). That has the effect of starving forwards of the ball and very few forwards can score without the ball. Until the defensive issues are taken care of the attacking part is just pie-in-the-sky.

      • chris_thebassplayer says:

        I agree, the back line is an issue, but when hasn’t it been a problem. We go to great lengths protecting our back line with multiple Dmids every cycle and we still leak goals. How many more cycles will we need to protect the defense before we can commit to improving our continuity in the attacking third. Our attack is anemic because of the protection necessary for the D. Since this team is clearly in transition, maybe even on the job training for the 2018 cycle, why don’t we protect the D with 1 Dmid and get more players up field. Commit to high pressure team defense up field.Harass the other team in their end of the field and create turnovers. Take our chances with the D and apply much more offensive pressure…I’m tired of bunkerball, excessive use of Dmids, and variations of one lonely forward. For this transitional cycle, the best defense should be a good offense.

  23. Hogatroge says:


    1. A hopefully healthy Shea and DMB can compete in camp for the starting spot on the left wing. One can sub for the other if necessary.

    2. Fabian could be moved up to LM as he was against Slovenia.

    3. Castillo could even play (or sub) at left mid. Honestly, with fewer defensive responsibilities, Castillo might be better deployed there for the Nats.

    4. Parkhurst has been consistent and above average for the USMNT since re-entering the fold last January. If he’s good enough to make a UCL Best XI, he’s good enough (as any other USMNT player) to handle Costa Rica and Mexico.

    5. Gonzo and Cameron should start against Costa Rica again. Boca’s not going to be starting by the 2014 WC, and some of his errors of late have been as bad or worse as Gonzalez’s.

    6. Now that he’s cap-tied, Chandler knows the only shot he has at a WC is with the USA. He was coming in from break and had a stinker of a game last time. Given his baseline play, odds are he plays better next match.

    7. Gatt’s gotta be in camp to compete with Zusi for the right side. I know Molde’s hesitant to release him, but now that he’s actively in the senior US team picture, they have to, plain and simple. It will also be early in the Norwegian season, so the league title will hardly be on the line.

    • beachbum says:

      thoughtful post. If Gonzo-Cameron can earn the call at Honduras in the first game of the hex I hope they’ve earned that confidence for longer than one game, we’ll see. Chandler can’t play any worse, he’s due for an amzaing effort to win the spot and lock it down, at home, we’ll see

      I’m hoping Benny can get comfy quick at KC and be ready to represent in Colorado

  24. MikeG says:

    We need 4 wingers with speed to play the wings: two starters and two replacements. For that matter we need two quality #10 players to play an Attacking Central Midfielder role. Those are big questions for a roster against Costa Rica and Mexico. I’m all for putting the best players available into a formation that would fit best. Right now our best players are central midfielders. That is our backbone. Let’s look at:

    DM – Edu, Williams, Beckerman
    BX – Bradley, Jones,
    CM – Zuzi, Sasha
    AM – Dempsey, Torres
    LW – Beasley, Shea, F Johnson
    RW – Gatt (needs more seasoning..bring him back), Bedoya, Davis

    This list is not the most comprehensible. From what I got here I would start with a 4-1-4-1. The midfield being:



    ——Dempsey—-F Johsnon

    A 4-1-4-1 could easily move to a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 depending on game situation or substitutes made. Dempsey and Johnson need to make lots of dribbling and off the ball runs into the final third. Bradley and Jones work the spaces behind Dempsey and Johnson.

  25. harry says:

    two words BRAD DAVIS

    • biff says:

      Yep, harry, Brad Davis should definitely be considered as a left winger in upcoming games. I do not understand why people would rather move Fabian or Castillo, who are our two top left backs, up to left wing rather than use bona fide club wingers. Silly to always be tinkering like that. Except in emergencies, I think Klinsmann should stop tinkering with players out of their favored club positions.

      • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

        Davis hasn’t proven it at the iternational level. The speed of the game was too much for him. IMHO and his speed of thought wash’t there either. Bona fide club players means nothing as it relates stepping it up to the ants unfortunately.

        • chris_thebassplayer says:

          I think Davis’ thought process is very good, but his speed really limits what he can get done on the flank at the international level.. Canada’s young side shutdown Davis. He couldn’t separate from his defender to get his cross in…for what it’s worth, Zusi had the same problem on the other flank.

          • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

            Fair enough. Thanks. I noticed that too with Zusi. I know two goals last weeked doesn’t make him ten years younder, but maybe it would be good to see if Beasley can get it done. No one else is…

      • beachbum says:

        hey, I’d like to see Brad Davis there…or Edgar there, or any player who has the chance to create the width and service while also providing the bite and hustle.I think folks are simply making the case for many other options that are there, you know?

        still think Benny provides something this team sorely needs, which is why he looks good on this team imo

      • Thebumswillalwayslose says:

        I agree Klinsmann tinkers too much, but I don’t think moving one of Fabian Johnson or Edgar Castillo up to left wing fits that bill because in addition to being the two best left backs in the pool, they also happen to be the two best options at left wing as well sans LD and a healthy Brek Shea. They’re both left-sided players and they both attack as well as or better than they defend. In fact I think stacking the two, in whatever order, is one of the most tactically sound decisions Klinsmann could make at this point. Both provide solid attacking qualities, certainly enough to provide width against CR and Mexico, and both are more than adequate defenders. Stacking them gives them the opportunity to continuously overlap and interchange throughout the game and keep the opposing defense guessing.

        Don’t get me wrong, I like Brad Davis. I think he’s a great MLS player who can hit a hell of a cross and strike a lethal set piece, but at the international level he’s a late game sub/set piece specialist at best.

        • beachbum says:

          Davis, in our region, could do more perhpas if used to his strengths and to what the team needs at the same time

          just look at the Canada game and his 45 minutes. for the first 25 he was pinched inside looking to work the JK triangle and not until he restationed literally on the touchline did the US finally do somehting up that flank. why not from the beginning of the game I don’t know

          I’d say the thing with Davis, if used, would be to pick the correct formation to suit him and then play thru him out wide

  26. TomG says:

    Corona, Pontius or GATT if Shea can’t get on the field for Stoke

    • brad says:

      Please, for the love of the US Team, I pray that we won’t see MORE then two CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS ON THE FIELD AT THE SAME TIME! Obviously the goal is to qualify for the world cup, but we also need to develop our players. There is no way in hell we can compete with the likes of descent teams playing 3-4 Central/Defensive Midfielders at the same time. I’ve been saying this since Williams, Jones and Zusi all started getting called up. Why are we playing CM’s out of position???????? I know, Klinsi is trying to put our best players on the field but sooner or later it can’t work. Jones, Bradley, Williams, Zusi, Edu, Beckerman, Klejstan, they all play the same position (Klejstan, Bradley and Zusi more attacking), yet every time the US plays an important match, 3 of them are on the field at the same time.

      Currently, i feel our main problems are speed, energy and width. The lack of Donovan’s presence undoubtedly is a key factor, but we need to start utilizing young wingers with pace and energy. Even if our young, wide attackers are inexperienced, make mistakes, we need to give them opportunities, over out of position players. I would rather see, GATT, CORONA, SHEA, GYAU, BEASLEY then have to watch any of those CMs get lost on the flanks.

      On top of the CM problems we have, another problem is the fact that every CM is of the same archetype. DEFENSIVE MINDED! I am not saying that they are bad players, but what I am saying, is that we can’t have a formation of 5 CDMs. We need some new ATTACKING faces, with DIFFERENT qualities. I know he hasn’t been doing much with his club, and he tends to be streaky, but when has Freddy Adu really disappointed the national team lately? The last time he was called up, he set up dempsey’s goal against Panama, and helped set up goals against Mexico. That being said, I continue to believe that Diskeruud and Bradley are the future in CM. Diskeruud consistantly stars for Rosenberg and has the creativity and vision to distribute. Although, if we had more depth at wing, I would say DONOVAN is by far our best attacking central midfielder at this point.

      • GW says:


        Freddy Adu? Speed and Energy? You have got to be kidding me.

        You will be elected Pope Rafa Marquez the First before Adu gets a call up.

        As for Mix, JK feels he is intimidated by physical play. I agree with him based on what I have seen. This is not helpful if you aspire to be a top class footballer.

        • WG says:

          As for Mix, JK feels he is intimidated by physical play.

          I think JK feels the same way about Benny.

        • brad says:

          Who do you see playing the attacking midfield role? Give me your ideal starting 11 (injuries and what not discounted for).

  27. dan says:

    WHY NOT PLAY WITHOUT WING PLAYERS? There is a reason for multiple formations, to adjust to the players. Why not a 4-1-2-1-2? Many teams do this and attack down the center VERY effectively with the fullbacks providing the width when necessary.


    • GW says:


      Lots of teams have played without wingers.

      The classic example was in 1966 when England won their only World Cup. They had some interesting wing players but the manager Sir Alf Ramsey decided to drop his recognized wingers, Ian Callaghan and Peter Thompson and go with Alan Ball and Martin Peters, attacking midfield types on the outside positions of the 4-4-2. The width came from overlapping fullbacks Cohen and Wilson.

      The US has the fullbacks in Dolo, Chandler and Johnson to do the overlapping business and could probably find reasonable facsimiles for Ball and Peters. Stiles was their destroyer and the US has plenty of those.

      But after that England had Hurst and Hunt at forward, B. Charlton in midfield and J. Charlton and Moore at the center of defense and Banks in goal.

      And the US does not have the equivalent.

      Strength up the middle. That England side had it and the USMNT lacks it.

      When you are strong up the middle when their attacks fail you can direct the ball to your outside backs who are already in position to start the overlap. Either that or their attack fails out on your wings and again your attack starts from the wing.

      And when you are weak up the middle, like the US is, you need all these alleged defensive midfielders to keep from getting overrun.

      If Gonzo and Cameron can dispense with the baby sitters, it will free up the midfielders and the fullbacks to attack.

      If they can’t you can bring in anyone you want to play on the wing and they will spend the entire game without much support if any.

    • Hayes says:


      I see where you are going but had rather we play a hybrid. Play with one true winger and more of an inverted winger on the other side with the fullback on that side providing the width.


      I think we have more options playing in this system in that if Shea or Beasley make the grade Zusi/Dempsey could pinch in from the right either Dempsey or Gomez alongside Altidore.

  28. Jason says:

    Pontius and DeLeon!

    They are defensively responsible, won’t get caught in possession and may actually create some chances! These are actual wingers that play both sides of the ball, unlike Shea, so there isn’t any defensive liability.

    Guess what? It won’t happen, Klinsmann will shoehorn another central middie or forward out there. So tired of that.

  29. SCTwinTown says:

    While not a spring chicken, Rolfe had a fair amount of success in Denmark on the wing. I would think that he could be an option for the qualifiers, perhaps not a starter, but I would think he would fit in nicely on the wing. His movement is good, he’s fairly creative, and he can shoot from outside the box.

  30. Coach Beck says:

    I have two large worries. One is that we were always in better physical shape than anyone we played and when we were less talented we made up for that with our legs and lungs sometimes. I know we had guys in European winter and MLS out of season but we looked extremely poorly conditioned in Honduras. If you are gonna beat people better than you talent wise you can’t wear down (Jamaica outworked Mexico in Azteca). My second worry is that JK might be losing the locker room. In any sport if you come in and start telling successful players that have one in a system in the past that their system is poor and must be fixed and the way they play is wrong etc. Then you change everything and you look very poor even when you win and always seem disjointed it is easy to lose the locker room. These worry me more than any lineup choices.

  31. Andy says:

    I’d be tempted to call up DeMarcus Beasley for the March qualifiers. He’s having a decent season in Mexico and is going to be acclimated to the altitude. He’s a winger and he’s got experience.

    As many downsides as DaBease has, I’ve got to think he’s at least worth considering vs. using a defensive midfielder on that flank.

  32. ACS says:

    F. Johnson——Dempsey———-Chandler

    • biff says:

      I like the 4-2-3-1, but why in the heck do you wanna put fullbacks in as wingers. I like your back line and I can go with the DMs. But I woudl rather see something like this.

      ——-————–Eddie J.———————