USMNT Daily Update: Can Klinsmann’s midfield preferences work?


Remember the days of the “Empty Bucket”? Those days when the U.S. Men’s National Team played a 4-4-2 under Bob Bradley, and neither central midfielder was a pure playmaker? Those days when the complaints about the national team being to defensive-minded rained often, even when the team was producing results?

When Jurgen Klinsmann took over there was a sense that he would install a more attack-minded approach, and field a team that was more offensive and more creative. The end product hasn’t quite worked out that way and you can point to his construction of the U.S. midfield as at least part of the reason Klinsmann’s U.S. team has not been all that much more attack-minded.

Klinsmann didn’t go away from the Jermaine Jones-Michael Bradley tandem in central midfield, but has instead moved them up the field and deployed a pure defensive midfield behind them. That decision has resulted in a U.S. team that lacks creativity and puts its attacking players in tough positions game in and game out.

Klinsmann has stated repeatedly that he doesn’t see Jones or Bradley being able to play the No. 6 role, the deep-lying defensive midfield role that has been tried out by Danny Williams, Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu. The only problem with that stance is that you wind up having a trio of Jones, Bradley and a No. 6 taking up three of the six slots in front of the defense. You also wind up with a crowed midfield that doesn’t give the team’s passers much room to operate and break down opposing defenses.

While it is certainly true that Bradley is not a pure defensive midfielder, and brings good attacking qualities as a box-to-box presence, and Jones can also contribute to the attack with good passes, neither is a playmaker or a speedy attacker capable of unsettling a defense on the ball.

Does that mean you can’t play them together? Not necessarily. As much as some critics hate the idea of the “empty bucket”, a central midfield without a pure playmaker, the rigors of the modern game make the idea of a pure playmaker playing in front of a lone defensive midfielder is more fantasy than reality. There are plenty of national teams that play quality attacking soccer while fielding two deep-lying midfielders (like Spain and Argentina). Obviously it’s easier to do when you have world-class attackers, but the issue is more about trying to identify a player to anchor the midfield rather than having two players sitting in a deep role.

Jones seems more suited for that role, and has played it with distinction quite often for Schalke 04, but Klinsmann has stated on more than one occasion that he doesn’t feel Jones can have the discipline to sit deep and not surge forward, which has become a trademark for him with the U.S. team.

Bradley could play that defensive midfield role, but playing one of the U.S. team’s best passers and someone who can deliver goals of his own in a role like that wouldn’t necessarily help the attack or the balance of the team.

If you start with the premise that Jones and Bradley are too good not to have in the lineup (which Klinsmann has made clear), then one of them has to take on the No. 6 role if the American attack is going to have room for some players who can stretch defenses and set up for the forwards. If you don’t, and you insist on playing either a Danny Williams or Maurice Edu behind Jones and Bradley, you are left with three pure attackers who have that much less service and fewer options to work with in attack.

Are there instances where having that defensive a lineup can be necessary? Sure, the argument can be made that fielding a Bradley-Jones-Edu/Williams triangle in Mexico City could provide the defensive bite to stifle the Mexican attack, but if the loss to Honduras showed us anything it is that being too compact and narrow in midfield can also leave you vulnerable on the flanks against dangerous attacking

What sort of system might work given the players available? Here are a few four-man midfields that could make more sense to provide a better balance of defensive bite and attack:









Obviously if Brek Shea or Landon Donovan are back in the mix they give Klinsmann even more flexibility, and give us lineups that look like this:






(UPDATE_You can also consider, as some here have noted, the 4-2-3-1, with Dempsey behind a lone forward, like this:




F. Johnson————–Dempsey——————–Zusi


Though in reality playing Dempsey behind a lone striker will wind up playing like a 4-4-2 anyway.


Whether he turns to any of these midfield combinations, or any others, Klinsmann will have to seriously consider Jones or Bradley as the team’s No. 6, not only to ensure getting both players on the field, but also to fit one more pure attacker in the midfield, which could help the team’s forward receive the kind of service they will need to generate goals in 2013.

If he stands pat, we could find ourselves watching more disjointed and offensively disappointing performances like we saw against Honduras.


What do you think of the make-up of the U.S. midfield? Do you agree that Jones or Bradley have to play in the deeper role if the U.S. attack will be able to flow? What midfield combination would you consider the best option for Klinsman?

Share your thoughts below.

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182 Responses to USMNT Daily Update: Can Klinsmann’s midfield preferences work?

  1. PedroVB13 says:

    JK falling into the classic coach’s trap if fitting players to a system rather than fitting a system to the players.

    I think we’re finally seeing the emperor’s new pajamas, and we’re going to have to beat New Zealand to make it to Brazil… and be grateful for that chance.

    • Dave from Charlotte says:

      Yep…I said the same thing 4-5 months back after the 1st stage of the Hex.

    • Mike R says:

      Your have to be fourth to even have that option and that’s no guarantee Klinsmans lineups aren’t atrocious but does t have much choice as we have t really developed attacking midfielders in a generation. there’s no Ramos or Donovan or even a Reyna much less a Beasley or Lewis.

      • Tim M. says:

        I disagree with this statement completely. There wasn’t a failure to produce talented attacking mids, but rather it was the failure of the heads of US Soccer to cultivate or find healthy developmental situations where our best talents could be nurtured, developed into pros and the inevitable ensuing fruition. Freddy Adu, Benny Felihaber, Lee Nguyen, Kamani Hill, Eddie Gaven, Sal Sizzo? What might of become of them if their potential were ever actualized. If their had been an approach like Klinnsman’s to American soccer in the beginning of this Century.

        • Lorenzo says:

          Nguyen was with PSV, Bennny at Hamburg, Zizzo at Hannover, Hill at Wolfsburg. Eddie Gaven is short on physical tools, and Adu is an enigma.

          Benny, Zizzo, and Hill were all at Bundesliga clubs which is very Klinsmann. Not sure how your point is made.

        • Lorenzo says:

          Micheal Bradley played at MetroStars (like Gaven), Eredivisie (like Nguyen), and Germany (like the rest). They all had decent shots of good development.

          • Tim M. says:

            Yes, they were signed to prostegious clubs, but did it pay divedends for them? Playing time, playing time, playing time. Thats my point. An emphesis largely pushed by Klinsmann. Not only ensured playing time, but if there’s a lack of it at their clubs, an opportunity to be loaned to second tiers divisions in Germany, France to find that playing time. Instead of just being thrown into a club’s reserves to team to spend two to three years in limbo. As was the case for many of these young fellows.

    • kmac014 says:

      There’s been one game played and on the road too, just relax a little bit

    • kb says:

      Lose the third defensive mid and throw an extra ST (or Dempsey) up top: 4-3-3.

    • PD says:

      If a player doesn’t have the “discipline” to play a role for the good of the team… I guess that’s a liability that should be rated accordingly.

    • bjelks says:

      1) Zusi isnt good enough to be on the roster.
      2) Why the heck would you play Bradley as a wide mid?
      3) Demps isnt a play maker. Hes a finisher thats best off the ball and wide.
      4) Fabian is the best left back in the history of U.S. soccer. Why move him to wing mid and create another hole?

      A) ——Adu———

      B) ——–Adu———–


      • jaime says:

        adu really? you come into this discussion throwing in more garbage

        • Neruda says:

          Freddy Adu isn’t on JK’s radar. The point of the article is to dream up realistic scenarios using players in the pool now (although Shea is in the shallow end of the pool now, he could get back into the action if he starts playing for Stoke).

          This also probably means it’s unrealistic to expect Gyau, Mix Diskerud, Gatt and a lot of exciting young players to get a chance to play in midfield and provide offense. It would be cool to see Holden playing well enough to help the US.

        • bjelks says:

          Do you understand that the players in the realistic scenario on JKs radar arent good enough to qualify? No one has any proof that Zusi has demonstrated international quality. Adu has. He was rated the best player on the field by Mexican analysts the last game he played. US Soccer is a joke and you guys are feeding this BS by hyping these terrible players and ineffective tactics.

      • Eric says:

        You put Freddy Adu right into the starting XI but declare Graham Zusi not good enough for the MNT?

        That’s funny, in the sad clown kind of way.

        • SoccerInATL says:

          Say what u want about Adus club form but he shows up for usmnt. The last games he has played he left a big positive mark on the team. Bob Bradley’s gold cup run and delivered key assists and many others. The dude is horrible at d but delivers killer passes. Mbradley and Jones would provide him coverage. I rate him like a podloski where he only shines in international soccer not club ball

        • Benny says:

          Why sad? He is probably right.

      • Roy says:

        Johnson hasn’t played enough to be the best. Maybe four years or so the argument can be made, but he needs the years to prove consistent and take the next step up.

      • MiamiAl says:

        I am with you. Its time to give Freddy Adu a look.

      • thisisphil says:

        sorry man, I have been waiting a long time to see Adu show something more than potential, but there’s just no way to take him seriously at this point. any lineup with him in the conversation has as muh substance as talking about Holden being a starter in March.

      • AngelofLA says:

        I’m with you on this, I’m tired of US coaches trying to play players out of position, Look if Klissman had kept the U23 -U20 playing together in those friendly that should of help him find more players and youth. You can not play Bradley as a wing. To play winger you have to have some qualities that for right now none of the USA team have but the Youth system does, Like for samples *Gatt, *Gyau, *Shea, *Agudelo, Bedoya, Adu, and there are some pretty decent winger playing in the MLS. All this player have something in common and that is Speed, Skill, Creative, Technique that they can take on One on One and run thru defense. All those thing is what a thru winger have LW/RW or LM/RM Do you guys remember when Beasley & Donovan Just to do that well we are missing that and I bet Donovan is missing Beasley as well. That is one of the reason Mr McBride used to get some good passes that was going for goals.

  2. JB says:

    What about a 4-2-3-1

    Bradley and Jones (or Edu or Holden or Kljestan(american Carrick) for that matter) behind 3 of the following: Shea, Donovan, Dempsey, Zusi, Gatt, Herc with someone like Jozy up top. I would love to see a lineup with that formation deployed.

    • OPMG says:

      +1 I think this fits our personnel better and gives a chance to include some attacking midfielders in the lineup without relying on them to shield the back four. Throw this formation out there and let Bradley surge forward to support the attack. It allows Jones to play a simpler role which will more than likely reduce his turnovers. Think of Beckerman against Canada, he had all day back there to pass and pass. Put Jones in that situation and we’ll see better performances from him.

      • Bac says:

        +11. I dont understand why he isnt deploying a 4-2-3-1. You cant use the excuse Bradley is too deep to be a playmaker in that role, I could name plenty of players that play that role & contribute upfield ( xavi alonso, bastian swiensteiger) etc.- I could name a dozen…
        It seems to fit our personnel better also… Im confused by this obsession with Bradley/Williams/Jones thing…

        • David JS says:

          I think it comes down to him wanting to play 4-3-3, or 4-1-3-2 at times. It seems like any lineup Klinsi is willing to put out ALWAYS has a pure #6, someone whose only job is to be the shield for the back 4. Hence why we’ve seen so much of Beckerman, because even tho it’s about all he can do, he is built to perform that role to a T. In a 4-2-3-1, that protecting responsibility would fall on the combination of the 2 deep lying mids. I’m not disagreeing with you, but I don’t recall Klinsi ever playing that way since he’s been the boss. If anyone remembers a game where we did, please correct me because I’m just going off the top of my head.

    • Paul Miller says:

      Ding, ding – give that player a prize.

      It’s just baffling why we keep avoiding it. And the two DMs ought to be Bradley and Jones. Neither will stay back, but they coordinate that well enough between them – they’re like the only players we have who do coordinate their movements. Attacking mids ought to be Dempsey on the left, Kljestan in the center and take your pick on the right (so long as your pick ins’t Zusi).

      Without Donovan, we don’t have a natural right winger, other than Gatt, who isn’t ready to start. Suffer through with EJ or another converted attacker.

      Two DMs is the only way to protect this back line, which continues to be our vulnerability. Defensive, attacking… who cares? Just qualify. Let’s not fall into the Dutch trap of pursuing beautiful play for its own sake. Qualify. Besides, what we have now is pretty ugly, no matter how many times its called attacking soccer.

      • Gary Page says:

        I like what you say except that substitute Edu for Bradley and move Bradley further forward with Dempsey and Donovan if he’s available with Altidore up top. If no Donovan, Kljestan, Zusi, Shea, or whoever is playing well. A 4-2-3-1. Our strength is our midfield, we ought to use that strength. Spain has played with no attackers and done well, France won a WC because of Zidane and a strong midfield. He who controls the midfield controls the game. Of course I’m biased since I played central mid.

        • Anthony says:

          Spain is the only team that can play a 4-6 and win. Saying were on their level or even comparing us to them is a dream.

          Now, I agree with you saying a 4-2-3-1 will work, however, Edu needs more time in the back to help with his distribution. Jones and Bradley are solid starters for that spot. I think the key is the placement of which midfielders in the 3-1 part.

          Altidore/Boyd/Gomez should be playing within the lone striker spot. Aguedelo could be another one, but I would rather have him there if two strikers are deployed.

          The three in the midfield are a mixture of Dempsey, Shea, Gatt, Feilhaber, Diskerud, Holden, and Donovan if he comes. There are others that could work, but as of right now, I see these as good available options.

          Also, we could always play a 4-1-4-1, which would allow for more box to box / attacking midfielders on the field.

  3. Dave from Charlotte says:

    I agree with you because right now D. Williams is just not getting it done and Edu / Beckerman don’t bring enough in other areas to justify a spot ahead of Jones / Bradley. To be honest, I think the No.6 should fluctuate in game between Jones and Bradley depending on the make up of the opponent and their formation. If Jones’ abilities as a destroyer and ability in the air provide an advantage in the No.6 then he plays there. If the offensive threats of the opponent don’t align with that and it is more important to link the back line with the wings and forwards then Bradley’s tick/tock the tempo ability would better serve as the 6. I think they are both good enough and experienced enough to both play it during a game depending on the circumstances…

  4. Freddie Footballer says:

    Great ideas. I don’t feel like we need that extra central midfielder in there. I think against teams that will sit back against us, we have to hold the ball longer and be able to create chances.

  5. jake says:

    If they were all healthy, available and in form




    • OPMG says:


      I’m just going to go around and +1 anybody who suggests a 4-2-3-1 until the interwebs are so full of +1’s that Klinsmann has no choice but to use it or risk breaking the internet.

      • Casey says:

        I agree, I think a 4-2-3-1 is good for us. I can see Zusi or Herc playing on the right instead of Donovan, but what about on the left if Shea is unavailable? Eddie Johnson? Bring Beasley back in? Gatt is promising, but he didn’t look very good against Canada playing on the left.

        • whoop-whoop says:

          Agree… Herc has done plenty of time on the right w/ Santos Laguna and shown quite well. Think he brings much more than Zusi does at this point.

    • Dudester says:

      I like something like this but with Dempsey playing deeper behind the front three.


      This gives Clint more space and options with three guys going fwd.I seriously think that he is the only player(other than Feilhaber and Adu who won’t get called in)that has the ability for the defense splitting play.

      • Josh D says:

        Dempsey is the only one scoring for us. Why put him anywhere near the midfield? I’d drop Jozy before I move Dempsey away from the 18.

        I don’t think we have the wingers to get us through qualifying as they stand.

        Let’s accept Donovan isn’t there and move on. Shea is coming off an injury and won’t have a preseason so I doubt he sees enough meaningful time to earn himself back in. Gatt needs to move to a harder league before he can dribble in the Hex. Corona seems to play more through the middle now. Gyau isn’t playing. Zusi is too slow to be depended on away. Dempsey is too important to play out wide.

        I think Klinsi is playing to our strengths – a tough as nails central midfield and dynamic sidebacks offering width. However, he is not picking the right players.

        I’m fine with Jones playing as a DM and still having reign to attack the box. Just work on tactics and explain to Bradley and the third CM that they need to stay back when that happens.

        I think we need a Holden, a Mix, a Corona in the middle. Of course Holden is out, Mix isn’t “hard enough” for Klinsi, and Corona just hasn’t gotten the opportunity.

        Jones had that single awesome game last season when he completely dictated the game against Panama during the January camp. Where is that Jones?

        • Dudester says:

          You make some good points.We have to try something new at some point though.Just cause we get to Brazil doesn’t mean we’re playing at optimum.Something like this maybe.


          Also I don’t think benching Jozy will help.When we start playing better football he will surely be in the middle of it.Last thing I would LOVE to see Benny behind the front three in this formation.

          • Josh D says:

            I don’t think Gomez makes it to 2014. He has too many striker nipping on his heels and he has time against him.

            I also forgot to throw Feilhaber into the mix. I think he bounces back this season. I also think Klinsi brings him in for the March qualifiers.

            I just hope we bring in one attack-minded CM. Just one. He doesn’t even need to play. Just having him there will assure me Klinsi is learning from his mistakes. Baby steps…

            • leobriseno says:

              Gomez has been the only forward to hustle. he will make it because jozy/ej/boyd are inconsistent.

          • Lost in Space says:

            Subs: Shea for Dempsey when needed
            Gatt for Gomez late in games to inject Speed
            Zusi/Mix/Corona (Pick One) for Feilhaber
            Williams for Jones
            Edu for Bradley (Holden if he gets back to form)

        • Dudester says:

          Yeah I think if one of the central three had reign to attack it would def be Mike.With Jones and the other guy covering.

    • Steve says:

      Its clear that this would be the best possible scenario, right now, assuming all were in form. I have two issues, Altidore seems to struggle in that role, and second, two of our greatest assets are supposed to be Johnson/Chandler coming out the FB position and whipping crosses into the box. As every match passes, we see less and less of this. What gives, the team is playing so tight it is hard to watch.

      • MikeG says:

        Without more possession from the midfield we will not see Fullbacks make overlapping runs like before.

        • David JS says:

          Exactly. For everyone’s sake, lets hope we see a lot of FJohnson/Dolo/Chandler getting forward again in the Costa Rica game (which we should because we should have 55%+). If not, it could be a daunting situation heading into Azteca.

  6. Lance O'Brien says:

    Ives: Just use Kljestan!
    Everyone: Ives, stop trying to make Kljestan happen! It’s not going to happen!

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      I mentioned him in a few variations, hardly saying he’s the only answer.

      • MCFootball says:

        Kljestan continues to get a bad rap among fans and I honestly don’t understand it. He’s playing competitive, Champions League-level football and is finally secure and comfortable at a club. He’s not a winger, he’s a deep lying midfielder and judging him solely according to his flank play is a bit unfair. Plus, his entrance into the game clearly opened things up for Bradley as their link-up and combination play was superior to any two main pairing on the US side. I believe their rapport would help us in transition and possession.

    • Josh D says:

      I can’t see Kljestan either. He just has not ever delivered (outside a C-Sweden team) in any position wide or central. His brain works too slowly and he’s not creative. He’s an efficiency CM. If anything he’s a Bradley replacement. If we need creativity, we need a fast thinker who finds space and keeps possession.

      I’ll beat the dead horse: Mix. He’s not perfect but until Holden gets better, he’s all we have who can play two way, creative soccer. Costa Rica will be a perfect time to try him. We need the win, but we also need attacking X factor. Anyway, all our other CM players have gotten a shot – even Evans…

  7. Mike R says:

    He needs o roll the dice out of desperation like Arena did with Landon and Bradley did with Charlie Davies wouldn’t mind this

    —– Altidore—
    ——————–Dempsey ——

    Shea———–Bradley———bedoya(Donovan )
    —Johnson—Cameron-Boca–chandler (Lichaj )
    —————Howard —-

    • David JS says:

      against Costa Rica, I’d love to see


    • TN Bengal says:

      Yip. Like the line up….would love it if LD filled the wing spot. Nice to see Eric Lichaj mentioned. He needs to see the field. Possibly as first man off the bench..

  8. 2tone says:

    I am going to stand by my claim that Holden will be back with the USMNT in March. Donovan on the other hand is looking less likely by the day.

    • matt says:

      Even using deer-antler spray there is no way Holden goes from not dressing for a Championship side to contributing for the Nats in the next 6 weeks. I wish we had an in-form Holden to throw out there but I doubt there is any chance of seeing him in qualifiers before the fall (though hopefully he’s healthy enough to play in the Gold Cup this summer.)

    • Josh D says:

      Holden is out injured at the moment. A small knock if I understand it properly. No way is he back for March. He’s questionable for the summer only so he can rest a bit before, hopefully, a full season in England – his first.

      • BUD says:

        Not saying he’ll be ready by March, but Holden played 90 minutes a couple days ago and also played today again in a reserve match. Think he went 90 again and supposedly looked decent.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      Yeah, I don’t think we see LD for 2-3 months minimum…probably the same for Stu though. I think they’re both back for the first time in June at home versus Panama. After ugly away games in Mexico and Jamaica with everyone calling for JK’s head, Panama will be the fork in the road. From that point on, we’re going to roll.

  9. A says:

    At some point the finger needs to be pointed at the players themselves for not executing. A midfield of Jones and Bradley is perfectly acceptable and they should be able to play in that position.

    So many people act as if these players are only capable of completing passes and making smart, fast decisions when they are played in a certain area of the pitch. Both Bradley and Jones play in the same spot for club as country. If they aren’t executing it isn’t because of anything the coach did.

    This was true under Coach Bradley and it’s true under Coach Klinsmann. Player formations are just guidelines and are more about the mentality of each position. Bottom line is USA players aren’t executing as they should be.

    Gonzalez and Howard blew the match for us and coaching had nothing to do with that.

    • OPMG says:

      Jurgen? Get off these boards and get back to work!

    • Dan M says:

      And not just blame our players, Coach K, but also recognize that Honduras completely outhustled us and they would have done so no matter the formation we used.

      • MikeG says:

        I do not buy all of that. If the U.S. rises to the occasion we can beat nearly anyone.

        • beto says:

          exactly, we didn’t lose the last game because of formation.. for some reason we were just not hustling while Honduras was playing for their lives. the two fullbacks were lazy, the forwards couldn’t get any action and the two centerbacks were just no ready for what was thrown at them… i would have put the same line up out there again but with a better pre-game prep and expected a result.

    • beachbum says:

      coaching had nothing to do with it?

      who made the player choices? are you trying to be funny with that? who left Herc on the bench when we needed a goal? who continues to push this same fromation withpout the correct players? who fileded a team of jet lagged euros onto a hot and humid POS turf for a middat quali? who started a backline that had never played to gether,,,by choice!?!

      I’ll stop there

  10. BK says:

    If we are talking formations, here is one out of left field. With our player pool, our strongest formation may be a 3-1-2-2-1-1. It is somewhat Sampson-esque, but could work. Three central defenders (Boca/Bessler, Gonzo, Cameron), a holding #6 role (JJ/Edu/DWill), two wide workhorses that get up and down the flanks (FJohnson/Zuzi, Shae/DMB/Chandler), two central midfielders (Bradley, and the flavor of the month-Torres/Kljestan/Feilharber/Holden), Dempsey roaming, and then Altidore up top.

    Yes, it is a little unconventional and relies heavily on the two wide players to have motors that don’t stop, but if the #6 stays at home (like Edu does) this formation allows us to attack and defend with numbers. And if the wide players stay wide, it provides more width than we are getting now.

  11. Bostich says:

    It will never happen. The USNT need to go back to play counter attack and set pieces football.
    USNT players just don’t have the technical skills or creativity to play anything but

  12. QuakerOtis says:

    I actually agree with Klinsmann’s assessment of Jones. Dude never stays in front of the defense for long, can’t be trusted to.

    Though I can understand the arguments to the contrary, I do think Bradley actually is best used as our No. 6. While keeping him back there does rob us of HIS attacking abilities more often than not, I think there are enough central or outside mids and attackers on the team to make up for it… and hell, having him up top or central clearly hasn’t helped the attack in recent matches.

    Instead, I think we would benefit from having someone with Bradley’s experience, poise, passing, and work rate closer to the back line. His poise and experience might help our novice international defenders. With his work rate, I can even see him getting into the attack on occasion too, much like Danny Williams did in single solid performance (against Jamaica).

    My ideal formation (sans Shea and Donovan availability) would look something like:


    Deuce can float back into his favored grey area, link up with Jones, spray the ball out to the wings for Dolo/Zusi as he does for his mates at Spurs, pinch back in or push up to the box. Herc ahead of EJ, though EJ wasn’t horrible. Zusi over Feilhaber for now, though Benny is certainly an option if he plays well at SKC. Maybe trade in Gonzo for Boca once Omar develops.

    • QuakerOtis says:

      This could be seen as a 4-1-3-2, but would probably be more like a 4-4-1-1.

      • MikeG says:

        4-1-3-2 just might be the golden formation for the USMNT providing the ‘3’ are not Jones, Bradley, and EDU. One of those ‘3’ need to be the ‘1’ in this formation. This formation may provide the most balance for the USMNT.

        • MikeG says:

          We might not have world class midfielders to play in front of a single DM in a 4-1-3-2 but we have adequate midfielders to play those positions with two forwards.

        • QuakerOtis says:

          Right. Ideally, this would provide cover in the middle and focus our attack on the wings (and spread the field a bit to help open lates, and so forth). But the more I think about what Ives and Co. are saying on this thread, I see how the 4-1-3-2 would end up playing like a 4-4-2.

  13. The Imperative Voice says:

    Brief comment in terms of results, people forget we went down to Honduras last hex and got a 3-2 win when we needed one. To lose the next cycle is the wrong direction on the trend line, just like losing to Jamaica on the road. I realize these are all tough games and one can convince themselves one point or even none is OK, but the USA has in the last 25 years made qualifying routine by getting road results on occasion. You start cmpletely throwing away road points (and excusing it) and next thing you know we’ve gone from regional elite to another team fighting for one of the tougher 3/4 spots.

    Speaking more directly to the thread prompt, I think Klinsi’s 1 forward 5 middie approach creates a lot of pointless possession but few great chances and a lot of stalemate. I also think the 3 DMs are excessive and they squeeze out the wing athletic attacking quality (Stewart, Donovan, Beasley) that has helped make the US not just another team.

    Personally, I think we are best suited to a 442, and playing that makes us more of a wing team, gives us more targets for good chances (as opposed to people to pass to pass back pass back pass pass), and also limits the amount of DMs we have to field, which at some point becomes diminishing returns (I like Bradley and Jones, but Williams? Beckerman? Clark? maybe for 20 minutes off the bench, but not in a formation where I have to play and depend upon some of them for 90….), and maybe has the DMs not sure of their relative spaces.

    My two cents:

    All that being said, the smoothness and formation of the attack is issue #2, issue #1 is the leaky defense which everyone is taking advantage of on down to Antigua. We have the attacking personnel we just need to move people around until it really hums. But the defense is a couple players short of being solid. Even if we muddle through to the Cup then we might still get exposed. People were pointing out Boca and Dolo’s age when the cycle started. The transition should have started earlier and a Manhattan Project of sorts is needed to get that fixed within the year-ish we have.

    • Scott says:

      We can quibble all day on the odd player at this spot…or that spot. Your basic premise is accurate. We need to play a 4-4-2, the defense needs attention and the US should expect to get points at away games in the HEX. I personally would not play Gonzales ( I trust Edu and Besler more) and would play Dempsey on the left (LM)…and then he would still play towards the middle and supply no defense, but at least he would provide room for Fabian to overlap or Besler to penetrate. Quibbling…

    • beachbum says:

      excellent post Imperative, spot effing on

    • Ike says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Not sure why it is so hard for JK to see that a 4-4-2 is our best formation.

  14. bryan says:

    a 4-2-3-1 is a good formation, but everyone complained when we only used one striker. so make up your minds! personally, i wouldn’t mind seeing it again. but a 4-4-2 is worth a shot.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Ultimately, any 4-2-3-1 will have Dempsey in the midfield, and if that’s the case the chances are the formation will play like a 4-4-2.

      • OPMG says:

        Ives is right, any 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-3-2 are slight variations of a 4-4-2. I’m trumpeting a 4-2-3-1 so we can get away from having 3 CDM’s on the field at the same time. But it almost seems like no matter what formation or hybrid-formation that JK throws out there he always has those 3 CDM’s forced in there somehow…

      • Dan M says:

        But we need wingers to go wide and keep their outside foot on the touchline, so as to create space in transition. By telling players they are in a 4-4-2 there will be no confusion as to their role. Any other system, whether it si a 4-2-3-1, a diamond, etc, just leaves a bunch of guys pinching centrally and some role confusion. I know they are all big boys and can be taught the strengths and weaknesses of whatever system they run, but I also know what I see on the field and it is confusion.

  15. Chris M says:

    Kljestan should not see the field. He is slow timid and offers no creativity. We need to give younger more creative guys a chance like Mixx & GATT. Holden as soon as he’s ready again needs to be in the middle. The argument that mixx and GATT aren’t ready… Why not? Who’s to say what ready is? If they’re playing at a higher professional level than MLS would that not make them more ready than most? Not to knock MLS bc it is growing quickly with talent but its not on the level of foreign soccer. Feilhaber would be the perfect sub spark plug. The biggest thing this team lacks (without Donovan) is creativity & ability the ability to run at defenders. Mixx GATT even feilhaber give you that. And up top Gomez must play if Jozys work rate does not increase and our mids can’t control the ball and keep possession. Gomez busts his a$$ every time he plays and makes things happen. Time for the USA to head in the right direction and get to where were consistently beating Concacaf teams home and away if we want to be considered one of the best in the world! #USA WC 2014!! Make it happen!

    • Dan M says:

      I agree, Charlie Davies was no more mature or developed than Gatt and look at the spark he provided in Confed Cup. I wish Gatt would stop making those sour-puss faces at the refs, but otherwise, he is a real pest for fullbacks. Nobody else can pick locks like that. Find a way to start a game with him and Shea on the field and just have them run at defenders until they are tired, then strut out Mixx, Zusi, etc.

    • Vic says:

      Agree with all your points.

  16. Monty says:

    I think US should just go 4-4-1-1 with Jones and Bradley in midfield and Dempsey behind the striker.

    • biff says:

      4-4-1-1 is similar to 4-2-3-1

      ———-Herc Gomez——–



      ————Herc Gomez——–



      • biff says:

        ———-Herc Gomez——–




        ————Herc Gomez——–



  17. Vic says:

    Its not my preference to have three central mids in the lineup however I don’t think that was the main problem with Honduras. Against Jamaica at home we had Zusi, Johnson, Williams and Jones in midfield and we dominated possession. When you put too many athletic players(Klesjtan, Edu, Beckerman, Shea, Beasely, Altidore) on at the same time you allow other teams to dominate us in possession. It starts to look like a power play in hockey. Klinnmanns needs a balance of skill versus athletic players.

  18. Dainja says:


    I’ve been saying this for a while, and I can’t believe Ives is the first to say it:

    Jones playing the six is the perfect solution to a lot of our problems. It solves both the “Jones is too sloppy with his passes when he gets forward” problem and the “three DM’s on the field at once” problem. Cuz if Jones can play the 6 of a Champion’s League team, damnit, he can for us. And hell, he can still make those over-the-top beautiful passes he makes from further back on the field. By putting Jones at the 6, this frees up that third DM spot to someone like Zusi who is a bit more creative. So if Klinsman wants to stick to his recent 4-3-3, this is how it looks:

    Gomez/EJ —-Jozy—-Dempsey


    —————Jones ———-

    People forget Zusi is actually a natural central midfielder.

  19. bizzy says:

    Same ingredients….Same recipe…..same Chef……I hate to sound negative but we are not going to create anything different……especially since the HEX is already on our door step.

  20. Adam M. says:

    We need to stop playing 6-7 defensive minded players and try to create possession higher up the field (when good teams are scoring 2 goals against us with 7 defenders — it isn’t working!) We should be playing a 4-1-4-1, for example:
    Shea–Bradley-Duece–Zusi (Landon)
    Edu slides back when Johnson or Timmy go forward and almost never goes deep into the offensive half (so we always have three central defenders). Shea provides width and speed and space on the wing. Duece follows on as suits him best and Zusi slides into the space Duece vacates when he pushes up, giving room for Timmy to make runs. Bradley can cheat up or back as warranted to link with Edu and the wingbacks, but needs to be forward as much as possible. If he’s next to Edu more than 1/3 of the time, he’s doing it very wrong. The key is that the 5 offensive players have to play offense and we need to create a mass of 5-7 players playing in the offensive half as much as possible, leaving the central defenders and Edu to sit deep defensivley to avoid getting caught on the counter. It isn’t that complicated, but the execution has to be there and we need to stop trying to play offense with defenders.

  21. MikeG says:

    Nice article. Good work on that. One or two DM’s? WIth one DM you need 3 good attacking midfielders to take pressure off the DM and backs (makes them look good). With Two DM’s you need two good attacking midfielders, BUT the two DM’s need to take part in the offence as well. Either way is good. Dempsey: could change the formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 by moving into the midfield as a playmaker. I would rather play with 2 DM’s against Mexico and perhaps 1 DM against Costa Rica. The best midfield we ever had was:




    This is a classic Diamond midfield. This midfield had good and bad results, but it was the best I have seen in a longtime. Bradley is the most out of place in this lineup compared to the others. It is not a bad thing to say about Bradley. Just not Bradley’s best positon on the USMNT. In the Bradley position we need someone who can dribble past someone, has vision in passing, and skill at speed…Fabian Johnson comes to mind, Torres, Sasha, Adu, and Holden on a short list. This is one position Klinnsman has not incorporated into the USMNT ( #10)

  22. Mikey B says:

    Klinnsman will never admit the folly of his ways and correct course. He’s too stubborn and constantly feels the need to prove that’s he’s the smartest guy in the room. We’ll finish 3rd/4th if we’re lucky. I can’t believe I’m pining away for the days of Bob Bradley, but at least he got results.

    • biff says:

      Agree that Klinsmann is stubborn. After the loss in Kingston in September and all the heat he took for bad coaching, he did bend for the game against Jamaica four days later in Kansas City and but in Zusi and Torres and the USMNT looked great, although only scoring one goal. (I really want to see Torres given another shot against Costa Rica.) But in Honduras, Klinsmann reverted to his old ways again.

  23. Dan M says:

    Does anyone watch Deuce with Tottenham? I am not saying that we build a team around one man, but as long as he’s out there we could at least take a hint. All of his coaches with Fulham and now AVB all end up coming to the same conclusion – that he is a player who starts by posting in a fairly high position upfield, but he’s most effective when he checks back to midfield, joins in the initial distribution, and then makes a run into the box. With USMNT, he could support Jozy initially on the counter (like a second striker in a 4-4-2) but then drop back to midfield or no higher than the “D” when the developing attack stagnates. This would help unpick some locks on stingy Concacaf defenses. He could combine with Jones and Bradley and release the ball into space for Zusi, Shea, Donovan, etc.

    • MikeG says:

      He finds space between the backs and midfield. Similar to Rooney. It’s becoming a hybrid position.

    • beto says:

      if we used Tottenham formation around Clint it would be:

      not a bad idea… if donovan and shea can get into gear. Until then our best option would be Johnson in LM and Zusi at RM which is good but who plays LB?

    • beachbum says:

      that’s a pretty good analysis of Clint’s strenghts. Jol was just last week talking about how much they miss his goals from the midfield

  24. JSmiley says:

    I think we need a 4-5-3:


    Make the system fit the players.

    • biff says:

      good one, and then we can put both Howard and Guzan in front of the goal.


    • Jeff says:

      That is an original idea. I don’t think I have seen that formation mentioned before.

  25. biff says:

    As I have been saying for months, I see a 4-2-3-1 as the best way to go. And I am confused by posters above talking about one Number Six. In a 4-2-3-1 then both of the players in the 2 positions are Sixes. And there is no reason that USMNT’s Sixes cannot attack when opportunities arise. FC Bayern is one of the best attacking teams in the world and they use a 4-2-3-1, as does Jogi Low for the German national team. Here is a link to Bayern’s formation Saturday (bottom of the page), with Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez as the Sixes. And both of those Sixes are often in the thick of offensive attacks.

    link to

    New rule for Klinsmann is that he can chose only two of the following six players as starters and they must be Sixes: Bradley, Jones, Edu, Williams, Torres, Beckerman. If he starts three of those guys at the same time, he will be fired no questions asked.

    I do think MB and Jones could be the Sixes. But I would rather see Torres paired with either MB or Jones. For that, Klinsmann would need to bite the bullet and sit either MB or Jones. I would give just about anything to see a line-up something like this (with Castillo playing left back):

    ———-Eddie Johnson——–

    Clint——Corona/Feilhaber—-Herc Gomez


    • biff says:


      ———-Herc Gomez——–



      • Dan M says:

        You are obviously a huge fan of Mexican football. Not saying that’s bad, and perhaps it would be best to get us through Concacaf, but don’t forget that the reason we need to get through Concacaf is so that we have a chance at winning the WCup. Mexican football, if you could call it a “style” presents us with cero chance at winning in Brasil. Mexican league teams play like Barcelona, but without the skill. This doesn’t translate well in WCup tournaments, IMO. So, Klinsy needs to come up with a team identity that is sufficient to get us through Concacaf and will also give our team a blueprint for success next summer. Otherwise, we’ll be toca toca-ing right out of the first round. Not saying you don’t have a point with Herc, but Beas, Corona and Torres? They will not stretch teams any better than you saw v. Honduras so they are not the answer.

        • Vic says:

          I’m actually fine with more Mexican Americans. Put them in midfield, leave our defense and goalie the way it is and you have the best of both worlds.

        • biff says:

          But Dan M, we gotta win games now with whichever players can get the job done or we won’t make it to Brazil.

  26. chris says:


    -Lichaj and Gatt should be in the 23
    -Besler for Gonzo if need be

  27. Chris thebassplayer says:

    I’ve said all along MB should be a 6, or twin 6 and build from there. Stu will solve a lot of problems when he eventually returns. MB and Stu could be twin 6s with an attacking mid on top. Jones is incredibly streaky, I don’t believe he absolutely needs to be on the field I all situations, especially if MB is the 6

  28. beto says:

    we absolutely need to add an offensive piece to the attack however I don’t see Shea, Donovan, Zusi, etc breaking down the door to get into the starting XI. Hopefully this changes over the next dew months with MLS back in season and/or Shea winning a spot at Stoke… but if we had a game today I still think Jones-Bradley above Edu would be best lineup..

  29. Charles Fix says:

    Get the REAL Alonso ( Ozzie, Sounders ) and you can play me at midfield and be fine defensively.

    If that doesn’t happen, just adding LD back in, will be all that it takes. A great player makes his teamates better….he definitely does that.

  30. The dog has papers says:

    I would like to see Lichaj in the mix. He has speed and a killer long throw in.
    Also, it seemed to me that a big problem in Honduras was a lack of cohesion. A one-day camp in Miami before leaving for Honduras is asking for trouble. We need some friendlies with our starters. It would be nice to have Lando back. And maybe Beasley deserves another look. I also think Adu should be brought in as a number ten. As one of the few Americans in the stands in Pasadena for the Gold Cup final, I can tell you the guy was a beast. Other than an in-form Holden, there is no one else with the vision and passing ability — except for my four-year old son (but let’s be realistic, he is many years away from a call up) . . .

  31. MikeG says:

    Everybody posting good reviews and had me thinking and second guessing myself. Two formations stand out so far the most with our player pool for me: a 4-1-3-2 and a 4-1-4-1. 4-1-4-1 midfield possibilities:



    ACM—-Dempsey——–F Johnson


    I see no need for a dual DM formation. Bradley and Jones play box to box. Edu is hot right now in the DM position. With Bradley and Jones backing up Dempsey and Fabian will have more freedom to create on there own. Oh yeah, do not forget to pass to Altidore.

    4-1-3-2 midfield:


    ?—————Dempsey———F Johnson/Beasley


    • MikeG says:

      Argument could be said flanks will be exposed to changing the point of attack…sure…if the midfield shifts side to side there will still be adequate coverage. The midfielders would have to shift from the middle to the wing and that is not a far distance…Providing they shift as a group they will ‘contain attacks’ and that is a part of good D. Remember that guy all alone on the wing getting a pass will not have lots of support either. So, picture shifting from middle to flank ( 15-20 yards or so). This maintains good shape.

  32. PGS says:

    MEMO TO KLINSMANN: Get a clue and read this article.

    There are a variety of great ways to organize this midfield but none of those ways includes Bradley, Jones, AND a defensive mid sitting in the middle (especially against most concacaf opponents). This concept doesn’t take a brilliant soccer mind to understand (see our continued ineptitude on the field against inferior opponents).

    My vote is Bradley and Jones in the middle of a 4-4-2. Both are capable of defending as well as occasionally making marauding runs forward. The notion that these two seasoned professionals are not capable of maintaining awareness of defensive responsibilities is a joke.

    • MikeG says:

      Look above I just put Bradley, Jones, and Edu in a formation, but a more efficient formation for these players.

      • PGS says:

        At what time? I can’t find it.

        I probably disagree given that I don’t think those 3 should be in the same midfield at the same time, but would like to read it.

        • MikeG says:

          Under moderation….

          DM is Edu

          CM pair of Bradley and Jones

          ACM Dempsey and F Johnson

          posing was 5:17 same as yours

          • MikeG says:

            Bradley and Jones go box to box

          • PGS says:

            Thanks Mike

            That could be an interesting formation for sure, especially against stronger opponents.

            I still think that no matter what we “call” our formation, those 3 clog the middle in a bad way and are too defensive – at least against mid level or low level opponents.

    • Micah says:

      I agree 4-2-2 is the US best formation.

  33. waldo says:

    Zusi is completely overrated by Ives.

    If Shea and Landon are healthy/back, those are your wings. The idea it would be Shea or Landon on the left, to make room for Zusi on the right is ridiculous.

    Zusi has done nothing beyond the MLS level aside from a decent half against a bunkering Jamaica. He’s looked terrible in both recent NT games. He just isn’t that good. There’s a reason West Ham not only passed on him but didn’t even contact him.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Klinsmann is the one who has started him in an important qualifier already, and Klinsmann who put him on the field against Honduras. I’d prefer playing Bradley or Donovan on the right flank, but Klinsmann has shown some clear preferences, so acting like mentioning Zusi is just about me “overrating him” is a bit short-sighted on your part.

      • Dan M says:


        Yeah, Ives, I appreciate the way you try to balance the ideal world with the world we live in. A lot of readers hope for things that aren’t presently there. I just pray Klinsi doesn’t keep forcing his vision until he realizes the futility. Zusi is a good player with Sporting KC, but I don’t quite understand his role with USMNT and I am not sure if he does either.

      • beachbum says:

        still irks that we needed a goal down there and Herc didn’t get the call to hunt it late

  34. NOJazz says:

    Simple Answer yes. Just not at the same time.

  35. atd says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t think about a Jones-Bradley DM midfield combo without getting flashbacks to the 2011 Gold Cup final. The USMNT at this point needs at least one true DM in the lineup, or else we give away tons of goals. Bradley is definitely not a true DM. Jones maybe could be, but neither Bob Bradley nor Jurgen Klinsmann has seemed inclined to make him one.

    I actually think the Jones-Bradley-Edu/Williams midfield works, given the presence of a dynamic attacking midfielder who offers a speed threat and makes really good decisions with the ball. I’d cite the Scotland friendly as my evidence. And the first A&B qualifier, which the US dominated and would have won just as easily but for the decision to play Gooch and the outstanding effort by the opposing GK.

    This started as a post about central midfielders and turned into a post about Landon Donovan. Well, there’s my argument: Klinsmann’s midfield preferences can work, but only given Donovan’s return.

  36. Rock says:

    Alonso is the answer for defensive mid. US soccer needs to be working on getting his switch to the US approved

    • Guillermo says:

      The comments in Costa Rica and all around Central America is that the American Team looks very weak, and it lacks not only creativity but a solid defense. When we lost to Honduras, must channels here in CR comments were all the same, this American team didnt can be beat even in the US.

  37. juan says:

    It’s simple. This lineup isn’t working, it hasn’t worked and if he persists in trying to make it work, we will not be in Brazil.

    I agree with one of the first posters who spoke of trying to make players fit a system rather than build a system around what you have. We cannot score goals with out someone to create chances. Nobody in this lot is very good at that. Bradley is the best of the bunch but still not enough. He better find a creative Mid he can live with buy the next game and that guy is not SK

  38. Thebumswillalwayslose says:

    I know people have harped on this a bit already in previous threads, but if you use the Slovenia game as an example, a diamond 4-4-2 worked about as well as anything else Klinsi’s tried. And, given that Dolo is out for awhile, Shea is going to need a ton of time to get settled in at Stoke and LD is still a good way out from making up his mind, it’s out best option with the players we’ve got.

    Jozy and Herc up front, Deuce as the attacking mid, Fabian Johnson and MB on the left and right, respectively and Jones as the #6 with a specifc directive to hold back. Or Edu in that spot if Jones can’t control himself (I think he can if given the directive). Then you have options at the back. Castillo and Chandler as fullbacks, Boca and Cameron in the middle. Or, shift Chandler to the left, Cameron to RB and use Boca and Besler or Boca and Gonzo. Written out:
    — Jozy – Herc —–
    ——- Deuce ——–
    – Fabian – MB—–
    Tim C – Boca – Gonzo – Cam

    I know Fabian Johnson is the best left back we’ve seen in a long time (maybe ever), but at the moment he’s also probably the best left winger in the pool. And the drop from Johnson at left back to Chandler at left back and Cameron at right back is considerably smaller than the drop from Fabian at left wing to anyone else in the pool at left wing.

  39. MikeG says:

    I hope we see a lot more of this in the next game: link to This is the shifting seesaw effect I have been trying to promote. Simple and effective..good balance to Defense and Offense.

    • MikeG says:

      No matter the formation or players selected, should we shift like this, we will have numbers up in any part of the field on Defense or offense.

      • MikeG says:

        link to

        two groups of 4…a core defense and a core offense…shifting and staying as compact as possible…I’m not saying the USMNT is brazil, but we HAVE the players to make this formation work…just an example

  40. elmatador says:

    We’re a 4-4-2 team. to be 4-3-3 or anything else, you have to be offensive minded, and have world class players at every position. Mexico plays a 4-4-2 system and it works great for them. Brazil is lost because they’re trying to play like Barca/Spain but they don’t have those players. Great players but not iniesta Xavi Fabregas players

  41. Amru says:

    Am I the only one that doesn’t rate Zusi? Don’t get me wrong he is a sound soccer player and doesn’t make many mistakes, but I don’t think he offers much in the attack. His crosses into the box are often poor, he can’t take players on, and he doesn’t play many through balls into dangerous areas.

    • Bobb says:

      I think your opinion of Zusi may be a bit lower than it should be, but he’s certainly no Donovan replacement. Neither is Gatt, by the way, until he shows that he actually has some brains and technical skills in addition to his speed.

      • Amru says:

        Fair enough.

        And I’m not calling for Gatt to start at all, I don’t think he’s ready either, I just don’t think Zusi is a player that brings a lot to the table.

  42. Rick says:

    It is no surprise that our country is not grooming many creative players. Have you guys been to a youth game recently? All the coaches (and often the parents) are screaming a directing the players the entire game. The kids are not out there reading the field and thinking for themselves, but rather waiting for the coache’s next instruction.


  43. Bobb says:

    Thank you, this is what some of us have been saying for over a year now (and at least since the loss at Jamaica).

    I think Klinsmann should use Jones as a 6, Bradley as an 8, and play another 8 (Holden when he gets back?) or a more attacking central midfielder (Feilhaber/Diskerud/Dempsey) in front of him, but

    “Klinsmann has stated on more than one occasion that he doesn’t feel Jones can have the discipline to sit deep and not surge forward, which has become a trademark for him with the U.S. team.”

    if this is really true and Jones refuses to play disciplined enough to be a 6, he needs to get moved out of the starting lineup for someone who will.

  44. David M says:

    What I am wondering about is when Klinsmann will be let go. Is it going to be after taking one point from the first three hex games or will Klinsmann be also coaching the Jamaica game in which case he’ll be fired going 0-2-2. We might still have a chance after that, but it will be very tough.

    • Amru says:

      If we do only get one point out of next two matches then I definitely think he needs to be fired. What worries me is Sunil takes too long to make that decision and who could we find to replace him on such short notice?

    • MikeG says:

      A variation of a box midfield to a box to box formation…interesting…I believe we have the players for this to work.

      • MikeG says:

        My team does lots of box to box scrimmaging..this is the core of my teams.

        • MikeG says:

          This kind of scrimmage is even easier with a 3-5-2. You can block out the wings and include them later to make it more realistic in a game.

  45. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    I agree with 3-5-2.


    Johnson Dempsey or Donovan or Adu Gatt or Holden

    Jones or Edu Bradley or Torres

    Fabian Johnson done well leftback, but I feel could do more for USNT on the midfield, 3-5-2 Johnson could cover defense needs.

  46. Darwin says:

    Bradley for Roma is a passer more than anything else. He is a focal point, and he hits a range of passes at almost 90% accuracy. Moreover, his movement often takes him into the box, into the wing, and into the backline with Roma. To be honest, the USMNT should use Roma’s approach to the game by playing Bradley next to Kljestan and Jones with Jones pushed into the No6 role. Kljestan is also an excellent passer and is a Bradley-type with Anderlecht more than anything else.

    AND before you all tell me about how these two give the ball away so much with the USMNT, I blame it on poor tactical movement of the team.

    Klinsmann, build this team around Bradley…he is the right type of player to build a team around in these modern times.

  47. Scooter says:

    I’d like to see Donovan slide into lone playmaking role behind the front 3 supported by jone and Bradley. As he got to many miles on his legs to continue to play out wide… But he reads the game well


  48. dan says:

    It’s pretty freaking obvious to me, play Jones and Bradley as the 2 holding mids, one being a playmaker more than a defender, much like EVERY FREAKING TEAM IN THE WORLD.


    AVB has done the work for you Klinsmann

    • MikeG says:

      Could be a near future lineup…maybe not Costa Rica, but maybe Mexico and beyond. I’m for this too.

  49. Goalscorer24 says:

    Isn’t our problem more of a defensive? Ok we have not been scoring like gangbusters, but in qualifying we have been scoring at least one goal a game. But that is not enough when you let the other team score two.

  50. Trey says:

    Mix or Feilhaber at CAM. Boca and Cameron at CB. I think Gatt would play better with the senior team as well. I’d give him another chance. We need some kind of signs of life in midfield. I hope we see a little more youth in our wings and some creativity in CM.

  51. BillG says:

    It’s a little funny that we’re all talking about changing the midfield around when, as someone mentioned above, the defense was the big let down. We were up 1 in an away qualifier in tough conditions before giving up two soft goals (I know the 1st one was a great finish, but the ball should never have gotten to him). If Bocanegra starts we might be talking about 3 away points and first place in the Hex. That said, this feels like the defense of the future, unless someone appears to beat out Gonzalez, and I can’t fault Klinsmann too much for giving it a shot.

    I do think we’ll want a different formation for future games, when we’re at home and maybe have some more attacking options available. If Donovan/Holden come back and Shea is in form, they can play the wings and we can pull one of the CMs. But until then, the three CMs are the best players available, especially when you are away and are trying to play conservatively.

    I’m also not clear on why everyone is so down on Williams, and so high on Jones. I feel like we didn’t hear Williams’ name much, which is good if you’re playing in a defensive role, and that for the most part the dangerous attacks were coming down the wings. Jones is a good player and has flashes of brilliance, but he also gives the ball up too easily and makes stupid mistakes. He’s also one of the oldest players on the team. If I had to choose which of them to pair with Bradley in a future formation with two CMs, I’d lean towards Williams, especially since he seems more willing to stay home and let Bradley push forward.

  52. moozy says:


    ***** If everyone was available I would like to see this line-up. Zusi steps in for Landon if he isn’t available. I wrote it as a 4231 to emphasize the fact that Demps could have some freedom to roam.

  53. Stern says:

    Shea ———Altidore ———-Dempsey



  54. David M says:

    I don’t understand why almost everyone is including Chandler. He never wanted to play for the US, and he was the worst player on the field in the only official game he played for the US.

    • MCFootball says:

      There is no one else to include. Cherundolo had knee surgery and won’t be available next game. Parkhurst?

      • David M says:

        Parkhurst. Lichaj could be given a look. Cameron has been playing right back for Stoke all season. Unfortunately, none of them is German; although, Parkhurst is probably scoring some brownie points with Klinsmann for playing in Germany now. Actually, prior to the Honduras game, my preferred back line was Cameron-Gonzalez-Boca-Johnson.

      • biff says:

        No one else to include? Are you sure about that, MCFootball? And, yeah, I do think Parkhurst would have done a better job against Honduras than Chandler, plus we have other viable options at right back, such as Geoff Cameron, Lichaj, Evans, and Chance Meyers, who are aching to wear the shirt and who, in the long, long haul, can contribute more to the USMNT than a player who has signed on only to play in a World Cup. Parkhurst on Sunday put in a very good shift at right back against a good Mainz team.

        I am surprised that after not showing his face at a USMNT camp for over a year and then putting in a dreadful — almost laughable — performance against Honduras that people are still designating Chandler as the USMNT right back for the next 10 world cups and bad-mouthing Parkhurst and other potential right backs (who Klinsmann strategically has not called in for looks). I would be happy if Chandler the prima donna never plays again for the USMNT, but Klinsmann has other ideas. It will be a relief when Cherundolo is healthy again.

        • MCFootball says:

          You lost me at Lichaj…Lichaj is a LB and can’t get time on the worst defensive team in the EPL. Also, you pencil in Gonzalez, who was arguably worse. 40% pass completion rate from a CB is utterly pathetic. Not to mention losing a simple mark on goal #2. Parkhurst possibly, we’ve seen him a few times now and each time was unimpressive. I want Dolo back as much as the next guy but your replacements are a joke. Surprised you didn’t say Castillotoo, or heck Connor Lade.

        • MCFootball says:

          And nearly anyone would have done better than Chandler, Gonzalez and Williams in Honduras. Although Fabian and Cameron don’t rate too much better from that game.

  55. Hayes says:

    With this team, JK needs to forget 3 in the mid and play a 4-4-2. Bradley and Jones in the center with Dempsey and someone with some speed and crossing ablility on the right (Gatt, Donovan if back, Chandler if Parkhurst starts playing or if Dolo is back.) Altidore and Gomez/Agudelo up top.

    Altidore and Gomez/Agudelo are much better playing with a partner and Dempsey has shown time and again he is best playing wide, pinching in and giving the LB (Johsnson) room to overlap. If Shea is available and playing for Stoke, we may want to put him on the left with Dempsey on the right and Chandler providing the overlapping runs.

    If Holden comes back healthy, we may be able to play effectively with Bradley and Holden in front of a defensive mid but I still believe it does not play into the rest of teams strengths.

  56. biff says:

    We all might be able to soon start penciling in Break Shea in our proposed lineups. Tony Pulis is praising Brek Shea’s performances in practice and saying Shea could make the roster for Stoke at Fulham on February 23. I would love to see Break Shea, if in form, playing for the USMNT against Costa Rica and Mexico next month.

    link to

  57. harry says:

    I can’t believe that no one thinks that Brad Davis can’t be effective on the left wing, you name every other player ie: Gatt, Holden, Shea, Diskerud, but I think you are not giving enough credit to Davis. Klinsmann should try him out there. He is better defensively than given credit for and he passes and hits dead balls better than anyone else in Mls right now

  58. Eric says:

    Why not move Cameron to the 6 and re-insert Boca into the central defense paired with Gonzalez?

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