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Who Starts for USA?

This much we know (or at least we think we know): Tim Howard will start in goal against Costa Rica tomorrow night, Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra will claim their usual roles in central defense, Michael Bradley will be somewhere in central midfield, and Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan will take attacking roles.

We also figure on Brian Ching serving as the target forward, though he did have his leg wrapped after training last night.

With Steve Cherundolo not here and Frankie Hejduk unavailable because of injury, the choices at right back are Jonathan Spector and Marvell Wynne. Perhaps Bradley goes with the more experienced Spector tomorrow and, if necessary, turns to Wynne or Hejduk on Saturday vs. Honduras?

At left back, Heath Pearce has not played much of late overseas and DaMarcus Beasley has the speed and experience to drop back from midfield like he did against T&T in the previous qualifier. Jonathan Bornstein is another option.

Experience is key on the road, so I'm figuring Pablo Mastroeni pairs with Bradley in central midfield. Maurice Edu would be a fine alternative but he's sidelined with an injury. If Beasley plays in the back, who runs the left flank? Jose Francisco Torres? Sacha Kljestan? Freddy -- gasp! -- Adu?

Jozy Altidore had a hat trick vs. T&T but is coming off a toe injury and no playing time in Spain.

Keep in mind the Americans will probably play more conservatively here than at home Saturday. Also beware that Dempsey, Onyewu and Bradley (as well as Hejduk and Altidore) are carrying yellow cards and, with another tomorrow, would miss the Honduras game.


By Steve Goff  |  June 2, 2009; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  Costa Rica , U.S. men's national team  
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Next: Team USA News Conference


Posted by: Reignking | June 2, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Anyway...I'm hoping for Ching up top, playing like he did on the road before. Jozy for a sub if needed, but Landy and Dempsey hopefully will make up a majority of the attacking force.

Bench Sasha. No Adu.

Put Torres back in! He was a revelation in that road game as a sub (Honduras?). He just has to be in the center, though -- not as good on the side.

Posted by: Reignking | June 2, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

As someone noted in the earlier thread, Wynne is more familiar with turf. I'd argue his speed is also much more valuable on the turf. So, I'd go with Wynne in CR, and Spector against Honduras. At left back, I'd like to see Bornstein, but I don't know if Bradley is ready to elevate him that way. My guess is that Beasley gets the nod in CR. Maybe Bornstein gets the start against the Catrachos.

Adu would be an interesting choice -- and I think a good one, but an unlikely one. My guess is Kljestan gets the start, and Torres is first off the bench. Dempsey on the right flank. Donovan up front with Ching.

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

What about benny in the middle instead of mastroeni and sasha out on the left? Love me some benny.

Posted by: daandre3 | June 2, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

------------------------- Ching
Torres ------------ Donovan ---------- Dempsey
--------------- Mastroeni - Bradley
Bornstein - Bocanegra - Onyewu - Spector
------------------------ Howard

Beasley's lack of playing time and uncomposed style of play will work against us in this game. Combine the atmosphere, the Costa Rican style of play, and the turf, and I just don't see it going well for him. Give me Torres, who adds a lot more composure on the ball. If we let this game turn into a track meet, we'll probably lose. If we can slow it down some and actually hold the ball, we'll be giving ourselves a real chance. Adu hasn't been playing enough, and Kljestan has only improved somewhat from his poor start to the MLS season, so it's really a two horse race.

In the back, I'm going with Spector over Wynne due to Spector's better decision-making. It might seem like a good idea to bring in Wynne's speed against a fast Ticos side, but on turf I see the odd bounces troubling him all night. On the left, I'd go with Bornstein over Pearce. Until Pearce is playing regularly, I can't see picking him. I know I say this whenever he comes up, but sitting the bench in the 2.Liga is no better than sitting the bench in MLS. Bornstein is doing pretty well on the defensive side with Chivas, and he also brings some speed.

If Ching's injury causes too much of a problem, obviously it'll be Altidore up front alone instead. I worry about a change like that making the game too fast-paced (Altidore is less of a hold-up player than Ching), but if Ching is hurt there isn't any other legit option.

I think Bradley will select virtually the same team, but with Beasley over Torres. For whatever reason, I think Bradley sees Torres as a sub only, when I think he's played well enough to merit some starts when the situation is right. I also think it's crucial for us to get some players that offer something different from the rest of the group, and Torres is one of our best examples.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 2, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

If we are planning on a more conservative attack, I'd put DeMerit in the center back with Gouch and Boca at left back where he plays for Rennes. Spector at right back. Wynne may have speed but not too much else. That would give us a very solid back line. Then Beasley plays left wing. Of course Bradley would never take that gamble so I'm assuming Beas will be at left back, Spector at right, Pablo and Bradley in the middle; Donovan and Dempsey on the wings; Ching up front and maybe Torres (although he played Sunday) or Adu in attcking mid.

Posted by: Beckster1 | June 2, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I worry less about experience and more about effectiveness. I'll take Wynne over Spector or Bornstein, both of whom, IMHO, are over-rated.

Posted by: carnack | June 2, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Not certain what BBradley will do, but I would start Bornstein at left back and keep Beasley in his usual left mid role. BBradley will probably play this conservatively, focus on defense first and make as few changes as possible to his recent WCQ lineups. If Spector is fit he should play right back.


Anyone know much about Costa Rica's recent form? Here's the team they called up:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Daniel Cambronero (Puntarenas), Ricardo Gonzalez (Herediano), Keilor Navas (Saprissa)

DEFENDERS (8): Dario Delgado (Puntarenas), Junior Diaz (Wisla Krakow, Poland), Freddy Fernandez (Perez Zeledon), Dennis Marshall (Herediano), Gonzalo Segares (Chicago Fire, MLS), Esteban Sirias (Liberia), Michael Umana (Ramonense), Harold Wallace (Liberia)

MIDFIELDERS (10): Armando Alonso (Saprissa), Cristian Bolanos (IK Start, Norway), Celso Borges (Fredrikstad, Norway), Pablo Brenes (Brujas), Walter Centeno (Saprissa), Esteban Granados (Cartagines), Warren Granados (Ramonense), Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory, Australia), Pablo Herrera (Alajuelense), Cristian Oviedo (Alajuelense)

FORWARDS (4): Andy Furtado (Herediano), Andy Herron (Herediano), Bryan Ruiz (KAA Gent, Belgium), Alvaro Saborio (Sion, Switzerland)

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 2, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

How about:


I don't think Bradley will field this team, but it is what I would like to see. Given the history at Saprissa, we'll probably bunker down and use more vets used to the atmosphere down there.


Maybe he'll play Dempsey upfront with Ching and Donovan onthe right. Bornstein gets the nod over Pearce because he is more match fit and Spector gets the nod over Wynne because he is a better defender.

Posted by: LostinPotomac | June 2, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Who I would start:

Spector, Gooch, Boca, Wynne in the backline.

Dempsey on the left, where he flourishes for Fulham, Donovan on the right, with Torres in front of Maestro and Bradley.

Chinger up top.

Who Boss Bradley will start (BORING):
Spector Gooch Boca Bornstein
Dempsey Donovan Bradley Maestro Beasley

The key to this game is to contain there speed down the wings. Donovan looked SO dangerous on the left cutting inside ALA Ashley Young where he can shoot or put a dangerous ball across goal but so does Duece. Donovan SUCKS in the middle of the pitch, need to keep him outside.

I could go on FOREVER about this while randomly using CAPS LOCK so, I digress...

Posted by: adamsunited | June 2, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I usually start my USA line-ups with two things in mind:
1) Landon Donovan is a midfielder, best played in the center, and
2) Playing with only one forward is damned stupid

However, with Jozy on a sore toe and this being warm, wet turf - do you start or even play him this game or save him until Saturday ......
So I might either start Adu up top with Ching, or in the middle with Landon up top, even though he has no business up there, at least he knows how to do it, sometimes. I'd be tempted to start Davies up there, but less experience on the road in a hostile environment, yadda, yadda, etc.

IMO, we need Dempsey in there, he and Landon are the only two creative guys we have (Sasha can show me if he's creative on Saturday).

I start Wynne because he's more used to turf.

I just hope Bradley tries to be unlike himself and actually be aggressive (or at least NOT conservative) and actually tries to win this one on the road with quick attacking soccer. I am not holding my breath, but instead expect 3 defensive midfielders and trying "to gut out the tie". Which, of course, will result in a last-minute loss.

Posted by: dcufan | June 2, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

What Chest said.

(I'll read it later...)

Posted by: joedoc1 | June 2, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

i am really confused about BB's love of BChing... is he really that good? in my eyes his play is uninspiring.

BB needs to light up Altidore up top with gawd forbid Landon "is a wanker" Donovan....those two had decent chemistry during the Mexico game...

and with LD uptop, we will at least get a PK from one of his dives in their box..

Posted by: bonghits4gomez | June 2, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse


I seem to recall reading that Furtado and Herron were both scoring freely for Herediano in the Apertura, but in the just-ended Clausura neither managed to crack 5 goals. Furtado also has goals in the Hex.

Beyond that, I don't know much about recent form. I know they have some guys that are usually really good (Centeno, Borges, Segares) and some MLS rejects (Umana). I know they have a lot of speed, and their style of play lends itself to hectic games with chances at both ends. They tend to press higher and more aggressively than most Central American teams. They usually play 352, but with the large number of defenders they called in, it's hard to say for sure that it won't be a back four. In either case, their wide players will attack as often as possible.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 2, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Ching? Yeah, he's uninspiring -- but tireless, and not flashy. He does a lot of the dirty work and ends up letting others shine (and score). He is a different player for the USMNT than he is in MLS.

Posted by: Reignking | June 2, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Heres my lineup:

Torres - Donovan - Dempsey
Bradley - Mastroeni
Bornstein - Howard - Boca - Spector

(So the same as Chests).

-Beasely hasnt played at all since the last qualifiers. I dont know how you can rely on someone like that in any capacity. How is he in anyway match fit?
-Same can be said for Pearce, not to mention I really dont want him getting torched all night.
-Spector over Wynne because Spector is healthy, starting for West Ham, and has the experience.
-Ching instead of Jozy. However, I suspect Jozy will come on in the 2nd half. To answer an earlier question, I personally love what Ching brings to the team. Jozy and Landon work WELL off him. He's a great holdup forward who does a lot of little things that no one notices. Just read the press about how the Costa Rica centre-backs hate playing against him because he beats the crap out of them.

Remember we are going for a point here, not the win. We will play very conservatively and try to control possession which is why Mastroeni/Bradley/Torres have their work cut out for them.

Posted by: strago | June 2, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Who on CRC has cards?

Posted by: Bartolo1 | June 2, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

What Chest said.

Posted by: joedoc1 | June 2, 2009 12:13 PM


Point will suit me fine

Posted by: Kev29 | June 2, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I see Wynne as a red card risk on the road in CRC. He's just too clumsy sometimes.

Posted by: EssEff | June 2, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

strago your starting 10 against CRC is a little too confident, and I am not sure Howard palying central d is an effective way to go for the tie! open net says BIG PROBLEMS to me..

Posted by: bonghits4gomez | June 2, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse


Little do you know that my post is actually a metaphor for increasing the power of the federal government at the expense of the states! Gotcha!


Ching's ability to hold the ball brings our midfielders into the play. He does this much better than anyone currently available to wear a US jersey. With Bradley's conservative system, this means that we maintain possession, which allows the back four to step forward. Thus, we keep very small gaps between the lines, which in turn suffocates the opponent's creative players. It might seem counterintuitive, but Bradley's choice up front is being made with our defensive shape in mind.

I think we're approaching the time where Altidore is too good to ever keep out of the team, but we're not quite there yet. When you have a team with an obvious strong suit, you should probably play to that. Ours is undoubtedly in defending as a unit. It might not be as sexy or fun as dribbling or passing your opponent into the ground, but realistically we can't do that and go 9-1-1 through our first 11 qualifiers.

I have often been critical of Bradley, but one category in which I have consistently agreed with him is that Ching should be starting if he's fit. In fact, I believe that if/when Altidore becomes so good that the system must be adjusted to accommodate him, we should switch to a 442 so that Altidore and Ching are both up front. I see Ching as hard to replace for us as Donovan or Dempsey. Is he as good as them? No, not even close. However, the gap between him and the next guy to play that target role is so big that it's hard to even say who the next guy is (Cooper? Casey?). It's a nice fantasy to want Bradley to just play the best eleven players, but that simply doesn't work in the modern game.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 2, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@strago -- I like your lineup, with one caveat: I like Wynne on the turf, and Spector in Chicago, as I wrote above. I'd like to see El Gringo Torres get a start -- and I agree with Chest about Sacha's form this year -- but, I expect habit takes over here and Kljestan gets the nod. I agree with your take on Beasley and, as I wrote before, I'd like to see Bornstein start. I'm just not sure if Bradley is ready to anoint him as the left back. Perhaps, Pearce still has a shot...

@daandre -- I don't expect Feilhaber to start, because he hasn't played with these guys in a while -- plus, he's just now flying in -- but I would expect him to get into one of these games.

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Ayone see the Rennes highlights from this weekend? With all the running Boca did, trying to chase down breakaways from the other side (futiley), he may not have any gas in the tank...

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Marca reporting Kaka to Real Madrid, meeting today...

Posted by: Reignking | June 2, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Mastroeni = kill
Bornstein = be killed

Put that combo on the left side and you'll finish with 10 men, at best, and a CR 3 : 1 US result.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | June 2, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Damn this formatting of this blog! At least I said my lineup was the same as Chests.

Anyways, those are all valid points and I again agree with Chest. Ching is just to vital to this team to leave off when healthy and the formation should be adjusted to accommodate Altidore when he is ready.

Posted by: strago | June 2, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Dude, that is so cold... makes me want to re-read The Federalist Papers.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Power to the People!

Posted by: joedoc1 | June 2, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Mostly unrelated but ESPN has a story that Gooch is suing in Belgium because of racial slurs used against him in the finals this year.

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | June 2, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@Crippled -- pls see the first comment in this thread.....

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I apologize for missing RK's link earlier in the thread...

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | June 2, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

And for missing fischys response...

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | June 2, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Hope I didn't come across as snippy -- I was just trying to call attention to the link, which was linked in the first comment.

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

No offense taken. I'm not sure how I missed the link. Darn work getting in the way...

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | June 2, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Let's leave Landon in midfield where he can be creative and run up if necessary. When he plays up front, he seems to get lost for long periods.

Posted by: tfshea | June 2, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

No way Adu will start since Bradley hates him. Dempsey runs left mid and Altidore runs up front with Donovan.

Posted by: hacksaw | June 2, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I was offended that you didn't read my post.


Posted by: Reignking | June 2, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse


I agree with your lineup the most, but I could also see a 4-5-1 with Borstein at left back.

Posted by: no_recess | June 2, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

If Jozy's hurting, anybody think there's a chance we see Davies as a sub?

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

If I were selecting the squad, I figure it would look much different than the squad likely to be put out by Bradley. Bradley will almost certainly go veteran-heavy, conservative, defensive-minded, and playing for a close match. Not my particular cup of tea (nor philosophy in any sense), but that's what will likely be seen.

First and foremost, I would put the best 11 talents on the field. The US has hit the point where our talent level far outmatches every nation in CONCACAF, with the possible exception of Mexico, and the conservative roster selection needs to be tossed out the door.

That means Altidore, not Ching, needs to get the nod regardless of the gameplan. With the injury to Edu, that could open a starting spot for Ching to earn back his place, but there's no shot I would ever start Ching ahead of Altidore again, short of Altidore nursing an inhibiting injury.

Howard, Gooch, Boca, Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, and Altidore should all get essentially automatic nods. That leaves open 4 spots (2 defenders, 2 mids/FWs). If Beasley is fit, regardless of PT in Europe, he takes one of those (and I'm all for Beasley taking hold of that left back spot). In what will likely be a fast-paced, high intensity match, I'd stick with Wynne on other defensive side. Too much athletic ability to ignore, and against lower-level, less world-class savvy opponents, Wynne could shine for the US. This is his perfect setting (as perfect as it could be for him).

Then comes the dilemma: where to put Donovan. In a game like this (as said, high-intensity, fast paced), Donovan's pace, fitness, and skill level could be sorely used on the left side of the field. The Donovan/Beasley connection would be the springboard for our attack, having Donovan and Dempsey on the wide side of the midfield would allow a dynamic and interchangeable midfield, and they could provide everything from creativity to settling the pace. In the center of the midfield, to go along with Bradley, I'd stick Torres. Let Torres dictate the game from that position, let Bradley clean up with what he does best.

And up front, Altidore with Ching. You need somebody to finish up front (Altidore) and Ching provides the direction and guidance needed in this atmosphere.

So without further ado:


Posted by: psps23 | June 2, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

No way Adu will start since Bradley hates him. Dempsey runs left mid and Altidore runs up front with Donovan.

Posted by: hacksaw | June 2, 2009 1:41 PM |

Bradley brought him into camp. He's also capped Adu in 5 WC qualifiers. Doesn't sound to me as if he hates Adu. I don't expect he'll start, because he's not been playing -- not match-fit. But, I like what Adu could bring in this match-up -- would not be surprised to see him get in.

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I just realized that Onyewu's suit is against a Van Damme, in Belgium. Jean Claude?

Posted by: Reignking | June 2, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I just found this tidbit on US Soccer -- Donovan and Hamm have signed on to the Bd. of Directors for the USA Bid Committee. Like him or hate him, he's part of the scene, for life...

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

One final note: a serious look should be given to Adu for this game. Regardless of what people think of him, this is exactly the type of game that he thrives. Costa Rica will likely open the game up as much as possible, will attempt to attack at will, and will be looking for a high paced game (I think that's the 3rd time I've said that).

And that's precisely where Adu's skillsets will come in handy. He is lethal on the counterattack. Teams that have opted to sit in and play a tight, compact defense is where Adu has struggled, particularly on the few international appearances he's been in. Against teams that haven't (Argentina, Spain) Adu has actually played quite well. He thrives in space, thrives when the defense isn't recovered, and has the ability to kill teams that don't respect his transition game. If we are uneasy about starting Torres in the center mid, I'd drop Ching from the lineup, start Adu underneath Altidore, and and stick a veteran d-mid in there like Pablo (while pushing Donovan and Dempsey higher up the flanks).

Posted by: psps23 | June 2, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Onyewu's claiming he's the real "Muscles from Brussels"???

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

What psps said...

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Except that Nowak likes Adu on the wing...

Oh, but wait -- Nowak left Bradley high and dry.

Never mind.

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I am now getting nervous for this game against Costa Rica...Now Ching is potentially not at full speed? I think this will be a tough game for us to win...Tim Howard seems to be the only sure bet going into this game...That makes me very nervous...

Posted by: alan19 | June 2, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather those guys get yellow cards in costa rica and miss the game against honduras than get yellow cards against honduras and miss the game against mexico.

Posted by: la2stl | June 2, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

This is all much Adu about nothing.

Posted by: joedoc1 | June 2, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, that was a stupid pun.

This is all much Edu about nothing.

Much better...

Posted by: joedoc1 | June 2, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I just hit "Report abuse" to report myself.

Posted by: joedoc1 | June 2, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse


Torres is used to playing in difficult central american stadiums, and fehlheiber has been getting pt for his club team and I wouldnt be surprised to see bradley try to ignite some of the magic the bradley/fehlheiber had last year.

US -2
CR - 0

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | June 2, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Here's a good scouting report and background piece about the Ticos from Clemente Lisi at

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 2, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I love these lineup speculation threads. Always lots of posts.

Personally, this is what I'd go with.

Altidore Adu
Beas Torres Feilhaber Donovan
Bornstein Boca Gooch Wynne

Serious attacking lineup. I'd go at them striaghtaway from the first whistle.

Of that starting 11, I wouldn't expect to see more than Donovan, Beas, Boca, Gooch and Howard actually on the pitch come 10 tomorrow night. That's what, 5 out of 11? LOL ... I suppose I won't get the nod as us men's coach any time soon.

Posted by: Matte | June 2, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

OK -- The USA bid committee has brought in the Guvernator as a Bd. Director. Do I dare make jokes about terminating the England and Australia bids? I hope this doesn't mean California has a lock on the final. I have hopes that the future Snyder Dream Palace on East Capitol (right next door to VW Fussbal Stadion) will get the final.

Posted by: fischy | June 2, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe Wynne is not a shoe in. The Ticos are not as physical and even if they are Wynne is speedier and physically tough as Spector. Spector is also getting into rhythm. Don't get me wrong I like Spector and I'll rather have him start over Wynne in a more physical game like Honduras. The main key and argument is that Wynne plays weekly in artificial turf or practice in it. It may not be the same but artificial turf is artificial turf!!!

Posted by: silentbat | June 2, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse


I'm curious as to why you feel we can just play our "best 11 talents". I'm not saying you're wrong, but you declared it as such without much of an explanation. Considering it's the opposite of what I said, I'd like to hear the "other side's" line of thought.

For me, team selection is just that: selecting the best team, not the best 18 individual players. If that was the case, we'd routinely field teams with 2 defenders (maybe 3 when Cherundolo is fit; no one would argue that any of our left backs is even top 25 in terms of actual talent). Especially nowadays, the unit that works together best will have more success than the team with 11 brilliant individuals.

Altidore is the superior talent to Ching, but not by enough to make him the better choice "regardless of the gameplan". If the plan, for example, calls for a forward to play with his back to goal, Ching is the better choice. Altidore loves to face goal and go forward. His back to goal play isn't bad, but it's not his preference to play like that. There are times where we've needed Jozy's skill set more than what Ching offers, but in Bradley's system on the road Ching is more suited to the demands of the position.

As for Wynne, I think the hectic pace of the game will cause him a tremendous amount of trouble, due to his decision making and first touch. In a game that will be full of speedy, hard-working players, I look for the guys that can think at the next level to make the difference. Wynne isn't there yet. I thought Bradley wasted a great chance to get him real, meaningful minutes by not using him against T&T at home. On the road, in a hot atmosphere, I see him being the target of a Costa Rican team that I think you're underestimating. If I was Rodrigo Kenton and saw Wynne starting, I would go out of my way to target him.

I do think you're right about Adu's skill set, and I wouldn't have a problem with him seeing time. However, as a starter I don't think he's as well-suited for this one as Torres. We need someone to offer up some calm on the ball, and I think Adu's tendency to always look upfield and either run at someone or play a killer ball still controls his play a bit too much. Granted, he could have changed over the past few months at Monaco, but who can say?

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 2, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse


Saprissa is too tough of a place to play to try anything cute. I think you go with the most experienced lineup possible and be conservative.

Save Torres and Altidore as subs. I might consider starting Califf for Gooch as well. He had a rough time out there in 2005 and I think the surface really works against him.

Posted by: nycrishi | June 2, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

50+ posts, by now all reasonable line-ups have ben written. Here's mine

Torres - Adu - Kljestan - Bradley - Dempsey
Beasley - Altidore - Ching - Donovan

USA 12-8

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 2, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse






Okay, uh, I like the lineup from the T&T game, but with Spector out right, but you guys make compelling arguments for Adu, especially about how open they should be in the back. But that goes back to making Altidore a back-to-goal guy, and that doesn't seem to fly.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 2, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I generally shun the lineup threads. I can't get the plain text to indicate the slight shading of positions that are crucial to my tactics.

That said, I like I-270's well thought out approach.

Posted by: JkR- | June 2, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

While I don't necessarily agree with psps23's assertion of picking the best 11 talents regardless of position/circumstances, I absolutely agree that if healthy Altidore should be an automatic start virtually here on out for the USMNT. I also would go with Wynne on the right because I think his speed outweighs a lack of experience and the trouble the field will present for him.

I would like to see Beasley developed into a left back, but I need to see more games before I'm sold on it when he's not in form. I think another option could be Spector on the left, but that appears unlikely. If I had to pick, I'd still go with Beasley at left back.

I agree that Torres would be perfect for this game with his control, ability to set the pace of our midfield, and vision. Though again, it seems pretty clear that Bradley will start with Mastro. I like Donovan on the wings because he's proven time and again that he cannot be trusted to take hold of a game at center mid. However, in order to get Torres, Dempsey, and Donovan on the field, I would like to see this lineup:


Posted by: gmAndAguinness. | June 2, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I use to be really negative on Ching but the game before last he really impressed me. He definitely does a bunch of the little things that help others excel. While Altidore is a better athlete and, frankly, a more talented player his game and Ching's are very different. I think they complement each other quite well and the one time they where paired together I thought it was really quite brilliant. It was a style and quality of play that I had never seen from USMNT. I am intrigued by continuing to put Beasly on the back line. He has good covering speed, can do some overlapping runs to get into the attack and it an opening for Torres. In terms of Donovan on the wing, I totally disagree with the comment that Donnovan does not do a good job out there. I have seen him play quite well on the flank. He works quite hard, tracks back well and has a good sense of the game. That said, I think the attacking midfield/withdrawn forward is better suited for his game where he can make darting runs. But it has hard to figure where to put him if you have both Ching and Altidore up front. I have also been impressed with Torres out wide. I do not know if I have seen him play more in the middle so I am intrigued by that. In term of the back line, in an away WC qualifier with a hostile, passionate crowd, you go with experience. That means Spector over Wynn. Wynn's experience on turf is not very compelling for me. Speed can also be cancelled out by positioning and ability to read the game. In terms of Adu, at this point in his career I like him as a second half sub if we are a goal down. So with all of that said, the line up I would like to see is as follows, with the possible flipping of Torres and Donovan.


The line up that I think Bradly goes with is:


Posted by: nyjer1 | June 2, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Howard (aka captain obvious)
Spector, Onyewu, Boca, Bornstein
Dempsey, Bradley, Torres, Donovan
And Adu, Altidore.

I may be the only one who is actually glad that Ching is injured. I don't think people realize how useless he is at this level. He needs someone else to do all the attacking. He won't get as much service as he does in MLS, and being injured is just icing on the cake. He can do all the little things on the bench. Cruel? So is three and out in the world cup, having not scored practically at all against concacaf.
Davies is more dangerous.

Beasley doesn't deserve to start, not with his play, (even at left back, which he got burned at) and Pearce should resign.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 2, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Chest_Rockwell, re: Best 11 talents,

I shouldn't have generalized the philosophy so much. To be true, the discretion for deciding the top "talent" is muddled because there are so many factors that lead into it. While one player may be a superior physical talent (Wynne) another may just be a superior technical talent (Adu). And of course, certain positions weigh different talents on a different scale, so while certain defenders may not be as technically talented (like Gooch), their physical and mental talents factor in more heavily. In the end, weighing their weaknesses and strengths, it may turn out that two completely different players are pretty much the same in "talent" level.

However, the goal should still remain to put the best 11 talents on the field first and foremost, with the gameplan determining the last few spots where talents are considered even. The US has reached a point where their upper echelon players need not be selected based on a gameplan. In my opinion, the following players fall into that distinction (assuming peak fitness):

Howard, Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Gooch, Boca, Beasley, Altidore, Cherundolo (with Edu closing in on that group as well)

All of those players are good enough to adapt their game to whatever gameplan Bradley sees fit better than any other option at Bradley's disposal. Is Altidore better than Ching with his back to goal? No. But he's good enough that his far superior ability to attack on the counter, run at defenders, and finish in the box outweighs the difference Ching has in that specific area. Even if Ching is better with his back to goal, the entire game will not be played with him in that position (even if it's a major part of the gameplan).

After those guys, you have a group of players, IMO, that are all relatively even in talent level, just differing in certain areas (again, assuming peak fitness):

Torres, Kljestan, Feilhaber, Adu, Ching, Mastro, Spector, Wynne, and Davies

Generally speaking, the last one or two slots should be selected from this group, based on the gameplan, injuries, etc. I think over time, Edu, Adu, and Spector could jump to the first group and tighten up the rotation of starting players.

And that's the goal, IMO. To get yourself a core of 11, 12, or 13 guys with whom you develop an unmatched chemistry. Guys that you can put out regardless of the opponent, regardless of the gameplan, and have them adapt to the situation. The US is getting close to being able to achieve that. And Altidore is on that level, IMO.

Posted by: psps23 | June 2, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

@silentbat (are you Austin Kearns?):

It's shoo-in, not shoe-in.

Posted by: fischy | June 3, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

@silentbat (are you Austin Kearns?):

It's shoo-in, not shoe-in.

Posted by: fischy

He must be kicking himself....

Posted by: troy6 | June 3, 2009 3:43 AM | Report abuse

More puns? I'm stepping away.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 3, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

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