Predicting the United States lineup versus Costa Rica

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DENVER – On the subject of United States lineup tonight against Costa Rica, the big riddle to solve is the back line.

How to get the most from a cast of options that is frightenly light in international experience is the big order of the day.

It’s on Jurgen Klinsmann to get the very most from his selections – but it’s on us to perform the guesswork on what might happen in the chill (and possible wet stuff) tonight at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.

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(Standard disclaimer: A “lineup prediction” for journalists who do their homework is really more “educated guess,” but at some point it’s just that … a guess.)

(MORE: PST match preview with loads of links)

Since Klinsmann’s challenge is to get the very most from a group of defenders with 12 World Cup qualifier caps between them, I get the feeling that Geoff Cameron may slide out to right back, where he generally plays for Stoke City. Otherwise, Klinsmann is leaving one of his top defenders off the field, either Clarence Goodson or Omar Gonzalez.

Out left … it’s really anybody’s guess. Justin Morrow was OK in his national team debut two months ago against Canada. Of course, Klinsmann could play the wildcard here with Brek Shea or DaMarcus Beasley. If it is Morrow, he’ll need extra protection from whoever sets up farthest left.

Klinsmann’s options for holding midfielder are Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman is more of a pure holder than Jones, and he’s not quite as adept at penetrating passes from that spot. Jones looks like the better option for this one (while Beckerman could possibly be introduced alongside Jones to add further defensive grit Tuesday in Mexico.)

Michael Bradley usually operates slightly higher than Jones, wherever they line up.

(MORE: Most pressure attached to a U.S. qualifier since 2001)

Gomez could play along the left rather than DaMarcus Beasley; he sometimes plays along the outside for Santos Laguna. That would serve to get Jozy Altidore on the field, too.

Dempsey seems sure to operate beneath the striker, or beneath two of them if Klinsmann prefers something that looks more like a 4-4-2.

AT HALF: Lletget, Bradley, Dempsey spur USMNT to 3-0 lead

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The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes is off to a flying start.

As it stands, the 3-0 halftime lead provided by Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey has the Yanks up from sixth to fourth in the Hex table.

Sebastian Lletget scored a fifth minute goal to ease the tensions of the Avaya Stadium crowd in San Jose, though he’d leave the match with injury before the match was 20 minutes old.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal.

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks, Cameron; Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′)

LIVE – USMNT looks to right ship vs. Honduras

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The United States starts to make amends for its 0-2 start to the final round of World Cup qualifying with a match against Honduras on Friday in San Jose.

Losses to Mexico and Costa Rica cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job and Bruce Arena will try things differently

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Most importantly for Arena, Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard are available this time around.

Cameron starts at right back, with John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez in the center of the back four. Jorge Villafana slots into the mix at left back.

Captain Michael Bradley will sit atop the midfield, with Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Lletget, and Christian Pulisic in the midfield.

Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are the forwards. Kickoff is set for 10:55 p.m. EDT from Avaya Stadium.

Minnesota’s Molino lifts Trinidad and Tobago to big win (video)

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Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.

Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.

[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]

Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.

The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.

The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.

WATCH: Zaha drives Russia nuts with mazy dribble goal

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Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.

With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.

He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.

Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.