Two things most U.S. Soccer supporters can now agree on: Michael Bradley is The Man in the U.S. midfield, an element in Jurgen Klinsmann’s team every bit as essential as cheese on a cheeseburger.
The central midfield options behind Bradley are OK, but perhaps something short of overwhelming. Bradley has the most balanced game, by far, and he’s easily the best of the bunch in ability to contribute offensively.
So how about this for a nightmare scenario: going into an absolute, must-win, all-in, zero-margin-for-error match next week in Kansas City without Bradley, Maurice Edu or Jermaine Jones (pictured)? Possibly even without Graham Zusi, too.
Bradley, Edu, Jones and Zusi are all on yellow-card warning. That means they’ll sit out Tuesday’s semifinal round finale against Guatemala if they collect a caution Friday in Antigua.
Which is concerning, since Bradley, Edu, Jones, Danny Williams and Kyle Beckerman are the central midfielders on this roster.
It wouldn’t be dire, because Williams and Beckerman are not bad options for the center of the park. But it would leave zero cover, and would probably require Klinsmann to reconfigure the formation, possibly into a 4-4-2 with Clint Dempsey atop a midfield diamond.
So, not dire – but hardly ideal, obviously.