Who should the USMNT start against Ghana?

USMNT Starting 11

Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com


NATAL, Brazil — The U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup preparations are over, and now Jurgen Klinsmann will have to decide which 11 players and formation give him the best chance at taking three points from the virtual must-win opener against Ghana.

Klinsmann is not short on options for his starting lineup for Monday’s Group G match at Arena das Dunas in Natal given how much he has experimented in recent months. There is the 4-3-2-1 setup that was used in the Americans’ final pre-World Cup friendly against Nigeria, the 4-2-3-1 that was deployed for much of the qualifying campaign, or the 4-4-2 diamond midfield that was fielded in a few of the more recently matches, and more.

Klinsmann knows that his side will likely need to take a balanced approach if they are to start group play with three points. That balanced approach will need to let players be just as capable in creating scoring chances as they are in defending against a Ghana team that possesses physicality, speed and some special individual talents.

With that in mind, here is the U.S. lineup SBI thinks is the safe bet to see against Ghana:







Yes, this is the same lineup and same personnel that we saw the U.S. use in the 2-1 win over Nigeria. It allows the Americans to get organized quickly and throw numbers behind the ball, which helps a back line that is still coming together. It also gives Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey a bit of tactical freedom in the attack, which proved successful in that final World Cup tune-up.

As much as things are pointing to this being the lineup, Klinsmann is always good for at least one surprise. If he decides to differentiate a bit from the lineup that he used against the team he said was similar to Ghana earlier this month, here is another lineup we could see being used:








This setup would require Jones to sit back and defend, a tactical adjustment that would require him to be very disciplined but would allow Klinsmann to field another wide player in Graham Zusi. That added width could be important for the Americans as they take on a Ghana team with quality on the outside, but would mean that Bradley would likely have more defensive responsibilities than he would in the first formation listed.


What do you think of this projected starting lineup? What will be the key to securing three points versus. Ghana? Would you prefer to see the second formation than the first?

Share your thoughts below.

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117 Responses to Who should the USMNT start against Ghana?

  1. argh says:


    whoever will win us the match

    subs should be ICEMAN, Diskerud and BROOKS

    • Don't mind if I Freddy Adu says:

      Wondo, Green, Omar

    • Josh D says:

      I’m very reluctant to use the same formation as we did against Nigeria. It worked then but we aren’t used to it and Ghana are a better side. I say we go 4-5-1.

      • Paul says:


        • Dikranovich says:

          Isn’t a 4-3-2-1 also known as a 4-5-1? I think it is

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            A 4-5-1 can be played as a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-2-1. There is a real difference.

            • Futbolisimo says:

              OMG, you techno-nutheads. Once a game gets rolling at this level those three “formations” are meaningless and indecipherable – particularly when things go awry and not according to “game plan.”

              • KingGoogleyEye says:

                Evidence suggests otherwise: link to imgur.com

                That’s just one pic from one match. It’s easy to spot similar shots from every match—especially at this level, not despite it.

                Formations are fluid, but they’re not meaningless—unless you *want* things to “go awry” by ditching your “game plan.”

              • Futbolisimo says:

                Touché. I still disagree, for the most part. With those three formations mentioned above, I think on one level, it’s immaterial. The England-Italy game is a good example. Italy was giving England a very hard time, and England suffered more so because Rooney failed to drop back in and do some dirty work until things settled down (or Hodgsen failed to see it and instruct Rooney to do so). L. Baines had a time of it too, having to run is butt off because Rooney was stuck in this (temporarily) useless offensive position.

              • Paul says:

                I agree the numbers are more or less meaningless, at least without an understanding of player responsibilities. The numbers will look different depending on phase of play as well, which is why so many Italian clubs with all that national defensive pedigree can say they play a 4-3-3.

              • KingGoogleyEye says:

                Futbolisimo: I think you’re illustrating how important formations are in soccer. The formation is the game plan. It’s what tells your centerbacks how many mids will be protecting them, it’s what tells your mids how far back to drop on defense, it’s what tells your wings how wide to run, etc.

                This is part of what makes soccer such a strategic—not just tactical—game. We all know that most possession ends in loss, not even a shot on goal. Thus, no team switches up its formation as soon as one thing goes wrong. No, they stick to the game plan. Teams that lose patience fall out of formation and suffer for it.

                But of course, sometimes the formation needs to change. Will the coach recognize it? Will he make the change? We saw how slow England was to recognize their problem—that wasn’t because Rooney didn’t realize that the defense could use his help, but rather it was because the game plan was for him to stay higher.

              • Futbolisimo says:

                Okay, thanks KingGoogleyEye, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Thank you for taking the time.

              • Futbolisimo says:

                Likewise Paul. Please, both, keep up the good posts.

              • Mike in Missouri says:

                Of course there’s a lot of fluidity in the game. The formations are the “default” settings–what you revert back to and reset from when there’s a restart, etc.

            • ThaDeuce says:

              John Harkes called it a 4-2-3-1 for some reason. But I agree with ive’s.

      • ronniet says:

        How can you say Ghana is better??? It’s not smart to go off past performances but if you’ve seen them play can you give us a bit of info on the ghanains?!

        • Shawn says:

          I’m not convinced by people saying they are either. After all, Nigeria is the continental champion.

    • froboy says:

      Pretty rare to sub a center back mid game.

      • junker says:

        Unless one of them has a yellow and the ref is either card happy or things are rough in the trenches.

    • Mark says:

      Nice call on Brooks.

  2. argh says:

    O/T what does 1 say to the GF of a good friend who wants to see the USA lose at the world cup? she is supporting Portugal due to her father. i just don’t get it. is it PR or EURO SNOBBERY? I’m slightly a EURO SNOB. I don’t watch MLS but I know how good our NT is and they’re no longer underdogs. we need more consistency against big teams but we’re def KINGS of CONCACAF.

    is it that most people doubt our successes? do they feel we’ll never be good enough? would winning the world cup change anything about that?

    • MemRook says:

      Uhhhh, try, “Support whoever the hell you like. I’m supporting the USA because it’s my country and I love this team” or something like that.

    • Jeff Carter says:

      Lame. Some people are poseurs, it is what it is. Tell your friend to dump her immediately

    • Shawn says:

      ha i talked sh it to this girl i know who is rooting for mexico. Do it its fun

    • Iggy says:

      Tell her to make her own decisions in life and not pick her dad’s team, and that she should support her country. Fine to have a second or dual interest, but to flat out want the us to lose is weak if you are a US resident IMO.

      • Jamie Z. says:

        “Tell her to make her own decisions” and then do what you say instead of what her father says?

      • Michael says:

        Um, have you ever been in a major US city? Lots of residents who don’t root for the USMNT.

    • Bobert says:

      There are still lots of Americans who support another country because their father or mother or even grandmother is from there.

      I don’t understand it to be honest. Maybe they just hate their own country.

    • Mason says:

      Report her dad to DHS.

    • Billy says:

      Get the hell out for not watching MLS thats what I say.

  3. Benjamin C. says:

    Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer?

  4. DuckDuckGoose says:

    Based on a picture leaked of Klinnsman’s tactics using ducks: (5-3-2?) With Bedoya and Johnson in advanced defensive roles.


    • Roy says:

      I can’t imagine Beasley as part of a back three.

    • JayAre says:

      This has been a tournament of goals. We clearly need to attack so i hope we revert back to our 4-2-3-1/4-4-2 (Diamond hybrid)






      We keep that form on defense and when we attack we shit into the diamond with Bradley and Dempsey moving higher.
      We need to attack and score to go far in this tournament, as much as we like to look the other way scoring and staying organized has been our Achilles heel in past WC. We failed in 2010 because we couldn’t score. I know Algeria’s late goal and the Slovenia come comeback were magically moments be truth is we failed in those 2 games we were the clear favorites and we fell flat on our face. We weren’t organized against Slovenia and couldn’t score against a minnow team like Algeria and Ghana exposed that. If we fix those mistakes I’m going 3-0 USA

    • JayAre says:

      This has been a tournament of goals. We clearly need to attack so i hope we revert back to our 4-2-3-1/4-4-2 (Diamond hybrid)


      We keep that form on defense and when we attack we shit into the diamond with Bradley and Dempsey moving higher.
      We need to attack and score to go far in this tournament, as much as we like to look the other way scoring and staying organized has been our Achilles heel in past WC. We failed in 2010 because we couldn’t score. I know Algeria’s late goal and the Slovenia come comeback were magically moments be truth is we failed in those 2 games we were the clear favorites and we fell flat on our face. We weren’t organized against Slovenia and couldn’t score against a minnow team like Algeria and Ghana exposed that. If we fix those mistakes I’m going 3-0 USA

    • beto says:

      Did Miguel Herrera take over the USA too?

  5. Lorenzo says:

    Is it really a.mist win? I am not so sure playing Portugal in Manuas isn’t our best opportunity for 3 points. As we saw both Italy and England were bear by those conditions. His gain said euro teams will have a hard time with those conditions, and I know Portugal is not a humid country. I also think they won’t outmuscle us like Ghana and Ronaldo I do not believe is 100%.

    • Lorenzo says:

      *beat *Hodgson

    • Josh D says:

      We can’t control games so like England we’ll end up cramped and exhausted. Ronaldo only needs one half chance. I think we hope for a tie.

    • malkin says:

      We’ll just beat them both. Problem solved.

      • WhiteHart says:

        I’m liking our chances against Portugal more and more, but I still think we need a win against Ghana to advance.

        Yes crazy things happen at the WC and you never know how the other results will go, but I think a loss to Ghana would be really deflating for morale (and selfishly I don’t want to listen to another 3-4 days of SportsCenter/writers second guessing the Donovan decision)

        • WhiteHart says:

          **was supposed to be a reply to Lorenzo.

          I agree with Malkin though.. Lets just beat them both.

    • beachbum says:

      who knows man but interesting thought, thanks. Maybe that’s the game where Julian gets to run at a tired team late?

  6. Joe says:


  7. PD says:






    subs: Diskerrud and Jóhannsson for Bedoya and Beckerman if we need a goal late. maybe Diskerrud for Dempsey if we’re up by 2 with 20 to go… which I do not see happening.

    I was thinking Zusi might get the nod over Bedoya, but since Ale played in Ligue 1, he has played against Ayew.

    • beto says:

      Thats the one. Control thru the midfield and good subs to use in all kinds of situations

  8. McCallumKnights says:

    I vote for whichever lineup gets rid of our chronic Ghanarhea.

  9. kapon says:

    Start gk.kwarasey defenders opare…boye…j.mensah…. kwadwo asamoah… Michael essien… afriye acquah….kp boateng… ayew dede…a gyan…warris… muntari lol starting lineup for usmnt ghana 3 usa 0

  10. argh says:


    has a brace

    • todd says:

      according to FIFA rules, he had a hat-trick. they’ll amend the on-field call of an own-goal tomorrow.

  11. DCUPedro says:

    We will start the lineup Ives suggests.

    If Kyle Beckerman has a good performance, we will be successful.

    He is 100% the key to us playing well, and if an in-form 2014 Beckerman had started for Ricardo Clark in 2010 we win that match.

  12. BC says:

    Omar is playing like absolute dog pile. He better not see the field this World Cup. I’d honestly rather play Brooks if needed, and that is saying something because I’m not terribly high on him either.

  13. beachbum says:

    it’s not a starting position, but been thinking about Julian Green.

    a sub may might be in the cards for 20 minutes or so against tired Ghana legs? Jurgen likes that 1v1 later in games up the left flank. if Julian’s here to play, which I think he is, could be the best situation to play him and let him loose and see what he can do

    perhaps he was slated vs. Belgium closed door, who knows. but otherwise, he’s young and maturing and Jurgen protected him imo unitl now, why not? and his developing confidence, also hiding him from view. another way would have been to play him and build more confidence, but it risks having Julian’s young confidence broken instead of built, and Jurgen seems to have not really wanted to risk it, my opinion. I’d bet Jurgen is in his head deep telling him he can do it, just has to get by once to make a difference, just keep attacking even if at first you’re stopped…things like that, and he wants him fresh with those thoughts and aims and hopes to be able to do it.

    who knows, just thinking about it. if he’s not here to play, then forget the above. but again, I think he is

    • T says:

      If we’re down a goal half-way through the 2nd half,

      Davis or Green comes in for Bedoya (if Ghana packs it in and allows us the flanks Davis’s long-ball ability is key; if Ghana plays man-to-man down the flanks, we need speed and guile of Green) and Zusi comes on for Beckerman (again this depends if we can stretch the width; lately many times Zusi doesn’t play wide enough in attack). Diskerud will be the super sub for Dempsey or Jones, as he has been in the warm-up games.

      I can also see Jurgen playing 4 central midfielders: Bradley, Jones, Beckerman, and Diskerud and allow each to roam out wide and rotate positions as need be. This would be the most dangerous starting line-up for Ghana’s defense. Mix’s speed and one-on-one skills would be an asset on the flank. Jones against Nigeria showed he’s serviceable on the left of Bradley and allows Beasley to get forward by providing defensive cover on that flank.

      In fact the more I think about it, the more I think he’s going to play 4 CMs more than once and if there’s a game where it will provide the most benefit it’ll be against Ghana.

    • cformusic says:

      save the suspense, you can go ahead and scrap that entire paragraph..green is not playing in tomorrow’s game..he’s not seeing the field before zusi, diskerud, or wondo..if we somehow have a late lead i can even see chandler coming in as a defensive minded side midfielder before green makes an appearance against ghana

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      beachbum: I think your thoughts on Green are spot on. His best chances seem to be against Ghana—even more so if you really are concerned about breaking his confidence. Ghana has the weakest defense of our group opponents. Late in a match, when fatigued, defenders are more likely to make bad decisions (just ask Uruguay, ahem). Green has shown he’s skilled at drawing fouls in dangerous positions. He seems perfect for the Ghana match.

  14. kapon says:

    You guys probably gonna use the Internet on the field tomorrow ryt nkwasia for) n mboa

    • Ga1atic0 says:

      I’ll put yo mama on the internet tomorrow while the game’s on… Ghana ain’t the only thing getting a beating 😉

      • Ga1atic0 says:

        And when I say thing I mean that old kitty..thing ain’t Meowin no more..needs that red white and blue to start it up..so it can Roar like the tigress she is

        • Ga1atic0 says:

          And when I say tigress I mean she’ll get it in the ..p o o p e r.. Just like the US will give it to Ghana :)

          • Michael says:

            And when I say you sound like a m0ron, I mean you sound like a m0ron

            • Freddy Adu says:

              Wow, just, wow! Michael by all means please feel free to leave and not come back. I prefer the annoying Ghana posters to your weak a$$ comebacks.

              You know what, never mind, I’ll just give your mom a shout and tell her to take away your Internet access for a couple weeks. That should do the trick

      • Lil'Zeke says:

        Evolution before procreation please

  15. dude1 says:

    We better not go diamond vs. Ghana. Playing a wide open game with them is Ghana’s wet dream.

    That stupidit7 aside, JK has got to be regretting not bringing another DM. If he wants to play all three of his DM’s, that means tired legs come Portugal, and we still need to get results. That said, having Beckerman in does wonders for Jermaine Jones, he was excellent vs. Nigeria, because he got forward to his heart’s content.

    As long as we squeak a fortuitous 2-1 win, I’m happy.

    • T says:

      we won’t have tired legs. we have 6 days between the Ghana and Portugal matches. The tired legs will only come into play in the final game of the Group Stage

    • PaulWP says:

      he’ll play the 4-2-3-1 against Portugal and Germany. rotating DMs accordingly. the 6 day rest allows us to play 4-3-2-1 in the opener

    • Advocate says:

      I think Klinsmann finally realized, just before the Nigeria game, that we need vision and creativity in the attacking third if we’re going to score with any regularity. So he’s moved Bradley up to play where Donovan might have been, replaced Bradley with Beckerman in the back and moved Bedoya back for further defensive cover. It may well work out. We should be able to beat Ghana. We also have a reasonable chance to at least tie Portugal: The hot and humid climate should work in our favor, hopefully causing them to wilt in the second half the way England did against Italy; and it seems doubtful that Ronaldo will be 100% for our game. We might even get a point from Germany if they’ve already won against Portugal and Ghana before they play us.

      • Paul says:

        Same thought on that last game. If Germany go into it with 6 points, they’ll just be trying not to get anyone hurt against us.

  16. Troy says:

    *Shaking my head*

  17. OH NO! says:

    Just out of curiosity if we had these players eligible to play for the USMNT which of these players you think make our final 23? All of them? None? Some?

    Neven Subotic – Move to the States in 99 lived in Salt lake City, Utah and Bradenton, Florida
    Brede Hangeland – Born in Houston, Texas
    Simon Poulsen – American father
    Giuseppe Rossi – Born in Teaneck, New Jersey
    Vedad Ibisevic – Moved to the States in 2001 lived in St. Louis, Missouri
    Yura Movsisyan – His family left Armenia in late 1991 early 1992 lived in Los Angeles, California

    • Benjamin says:

      I guess I will play this game. Rossi and Subotic (if fit) would probably be starting. Either Ibisevic or Movsisyan would be a better option than Wondo.

  18. Dennis says:

    I don’t think the formation matters as much as the personnel. If both Beckerman are Jones are in, it will be more defensive than with Jones Zusi and Bedoya. I think the latter case does mean that Bradley would look to defend more than if he had two defensive-minded midfielders with him and that would change the formation actually used.

    The spots the players take up better change as the game ebbs and flows, when Ghana has possession it better look more like a 4-5-1 and when the US has the ball, it needs to be more like 4-1-5 with one of the 5 hanging back to provide some cover, like a 4-2-4 or maybe a 3-3-4. When things are more confused at midfield and both teams are pressuring and loosing the ball, some thing like a 4-4-2 with the 4 mids pretty much behind the ball and the 2 forwards giving chase to Ghana’s defense to deny easy back-passes.

  19. Alex says:

    ——- Altidore ——- Johannson —— Dempsey ———
    ————————- Donovan —————————–
    —— Bedoya ———————————– Zusi ——–
    ————————– Bradley —————————
    —– Defender — Defender — Defender — Defender —–

  20. beckerman 4 lyfe says:


    • Dirk McQuigley says:

      Congrats. You managed to mangle nearly every name except for Howard (Wondo doesn’t count) and your own. Well done. Please proceed.

  21. MG3 says:

    I like having jones and beckerman playing under michael bradley, we are much better going forward when he has less responsibility defensively. However, I felt the way we played dempsey and jozy left a hole on the left side. Too many times I think jones felt the need to fill the vancancy on the left flank because dempsey and his license to roam rarely played all the way to the sideline. Jones has a specific set of skills that we’ll need but playing out wide repeatedly ended in turnovers against Nigeria. Any offense we had on the left side came with DMB getting forward, but the teams in our group will pose far greater threats he’ll have to stay in place for than Nigeria. Not sure if anyone else saw this or has better explanation for how that should be working. I certainly dont think it was coincidental almost all of our opporutines were generated on the right side.

  22. Hayes says:

    Jones was on the left because we played a diamond in the middle most of the time with Jones on the left side of the diamond. Naturally Jones tucked in to clog the middle more than Bedoya on the right. I think we will see more of the same with us mixing play between the diamond and the 4-2-3-1 depending on what is happening in the match.

  23. THomas says:






  24. Rags in DC says:

    I’m so anxious today that I simply can’t concentrate. 6 pm won’t come soon enough. Random question. Is the US wearing home or away kits today?

  25. blokhin says:


  26. 1776croatswede says:

    I have the USA winning 3-0 or 4-0. ALtidore will get a double or a hat trick followed by Dempsey

  27. Jon says:

    Couple of random thoughts:

    1. I think we see the same line up we did for Nigeria, except Zusi for Bedoya. I just think Zusi offers more in the final third and his service will be key on set pieces.
    2. Altidore will be our most important player today. He really needs to hold the ball up. We can’t get into a track meet with Ghana. That’ll be worst case senario.
    3. I think Klinsman packs the center of the field and has Beckerman and Jones sitting behind Bradley. Beckerman is so key to Jones. Jones needs to be disciplined and defend first, but his two way game and jumping into the attack make the USA a much more dangerous team.
    4. I just hope the back four can hold up. A rough start in the first game can shatter confidence going forward, especially with Ronaldo coming up.

  28. Josephnsantos says:

    I really trust our manager. He very experienced and astute in the World of soccer
    Joe Santos sr

  29. JT says:

    Green will start. Why? Because Klinsmann loves attention.