United States national team depth chart: Finding a second choice behind Clint Dempsey at attacking midfield

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Five U.S. matches over the last month has generated significant movement on the U.S. depth chart – perhaps more shuffling than in any month-long stretch in Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge, which is now approaching two years.

Over A few days we’ll continue to examine the U.S. depth chart, making our best educated guesses at how things stack up on Jurgen Klinsmann’s big board inside the manager’s Southern California offices.

Next up: SECOND FORWARD / ATTACKING MIDFIELDER

Looking for a reason the upcoming Gold Cup could be important, why the tournament could be quite influential in next year’s selection of a World Cup roster? Just look at the United States’ “second forward” spot, what could also be the attacking midfielder position with a minor tweaking of roles.

This is Clint Dempsey’s spot. We all know that. The current U.S. midfield construction in is largely about putting a couple of individuals in their best roles, namely Michael Bradley and Dempsey. (We talked about Bradley and his linking midfield role here.)

Dempsey is not a classic creator; he’s closer to a second forward who is licensed to freelance, to find the spaces on a given day, sometimes further out wide, sometimes closer to Bradley or sometimes closer to first-pick striker Jozy Altidore. Largely, it’s all about Dempsey being hard to find so that his slashing and dashing and arrival into goal-scoring position lands with maximum offensive impact.

How someone else might attack the role is presumably up for interpretation.  And there’s the rub: there is no clear “someone else,” although there are certainly some intriguing choices.

So many U.S. supporters badly want to see Stuart Holden folded into the attacking mix, and he might indeed become a legitimate second option here. But …

Holden still must demonstrate progress in this long recover process. That’s where the Gold Cup comes in, obviously. Besides the obvious opportunity for assessment, a healthy and productive Holden could be better served coming in from wide areas. Or he could become the ultimate, utility midfield substitute, capable of effective function at any of the interior or exterior roles.

Either way, a “change of pace” man would be nice, eh? Someone who could provide something different in midfield if Dempsey needs to move further upfield, closer still to Altidore.

So, bring on the Gold Cup!

(MORE: Gold Cup notes ahead of Thursday’s roster announcement)

Is Joe Corona ready? Can Graham Zusi create from those central areas? (Although we are less likely to see that in the Gold Cup.) Can Jose Torres re-shape his image in the national shirt? Klinsmann keeps asking Torres to be more assertive, to kind more ways to impact the game, but the Tigres has continually fallen short.

Is Benny Feilhaber still any kind of option? Can Sacha Kljestan be useful in that specific midfield position, himself a “utility knife” type.

(MORE: Benny Feilhaber left off SKC’s latest 18-man squad)

And, yes, there is the Landon Donovan factor. Reports are out now that Donovan will, as we all expected, be part of the Gold Cup roster. Left to be seen is whether Klinsmann wants Donovan to work the wings or the interior – the national team’s all-time leading scorer has toggled successfully between both spots throughout his long career, in league play and internationally.

Best guess: Donovan’s role is tied to Holden’s progress and where Klinsmann sees the Bolton man’s best fit.

Can we just say it again … Bring on the Gold Cup! Important questions are begging to be answered.

U.S. SECOND STRIKER / ATTACKING MIDFIELD ordering

  • 1. Clint Dempsey
  • 2. Landon Donovan
  • 3. Stuart Holden
  • 4. Joe Corona
  • 5. Graham Zusi
  • 6. Jose Torres

In review:

U.S. goalkeepers

U.S. right backs

U.S. left backs

U.S. center backs

U.S. holding midfielders

U.S. linking midfielders

U.S. right-sided attackers

U.S. left-sided attackers

Coming up later today: strikers

 

UCL AT HALF: Bale scores; Spurs lead, Man City and Reds level (video)

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Two Premier League sides are level, Spurs lead, and Real Madrid has luckily kept a Gareth Bale-authored lead thanks to some goofy officiating on the second match day of group stage play at the UEFA Champions League.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 


Sevilla 2-0 Maribor

Wissam Ben Yedder has goals in both of Sevilla’s UCL qualifiers and now both group stage matches after netting a 27th minute marker in Spain. He’s added another before the break.

Spartak Moscow 1-1 Liverpool

Loris Karius will not enjoy the replay of a 23rd minute free kick given away by Philippe Coutinho, and he especially won’t enjoy his slow reaction to a free kick from Fernando (not that Fernando) which was not hit too near a post.

Coutinho made amends with a solidly struck equalizer just after the half-hour mark, working a 1-2 with Mane and lacing a shot beyond the hopes of Rebrov.

Besiktas 2-0 RB Leipzig

A man with a Liverpool connection is on the board in the form of Ryan Babel, and Anderson Talisca added a marker before halftime to double the Turkish side’s lead.

Manchester City 0-0 Shakhtar Donetsk

Fairly even at the Etihad Stadium, with Kevin De Bruyne missing a solid chance and Ederson denying Marlos at the other end.

Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Real Madrid

Gareth Bale’s 18th minute goal has the double-defending champions up at the Westfalenstadion.

By the way, this was somehow not a penalty:

 

Napoli 1-0 Feyenoord

A sneaky side to watch in the tournament, Napoli leads through Lorenzo Insigne.

Monaco 0-1 Porto

Cameroon star Vincent Aboubakar scores against Ligue 1 opposition.

APOEL Nicosia 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Kane, guys and girls. The English striker beat an offside trap to a Toby Alderweireld pass and bested the keeper in the 39th minute.

LIVE – UCL: Liverpool, Tottenham, Man City all in action

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Three Premier League teams are in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday in their second games of the 2017-18 group stage.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Tottenham Hotspur head to Cyprus to face APOEL in Nicosia hoping to make it two wins from two, while Manchester City host Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk aiming to keep their 100 percent record and Liverpool are in Moscow to play Spartak hoping for a first win of the group stage.

Elsewhere Real Madrid head to Borussia Dortmund (Christian Pulisic alert) in a mouth-watering clash at the Westfalenstadion and Napoli host Feyenoord in another eye-catching tie.

Click on the link above to follow commentary on all the action, while below is the full schedule as we will have reaction and analysis on all the UCL action on Tuesday.

All games kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET.


Tuesday’s UCL schedule

Group E
Spartak Moscow vs. Liverpool
Sevilla vs. Maribor

Group F
Manchester City vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Napoli vs. Feyenoord

Group G
Monaco vs. FC Porto
Besiktas vs. RB Leipzig

Group H
APOEL vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid

VIDEO: Top Premier League goals – Week 6

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From Fabian Delph‘s curler to Alvaro Morata’s surging run and dink and from Philippe Coutinho‘s perfect free kick to Leroy Sane’s delicate touches.

Boy, did we have some fine strikes in the Premier League in Week 6.

[ LIVE: Stream every Premier League game

Click play on the video above to see the best of the bunch and let us know your favorite in the comments section below.

“What is your favorite?” I hear you cry. Settle down, settle down. I love a good curler which clips off the bar and in so I’m going with Delphy’s goal against Crystal Palace. Sublime.

PHOTO: New USMNT jersey for 2018 World Cup leaked?

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Now, of course, they have to qualify first.

But if Bruce Arena’s men do make the 2018 World Cup in Russia they could be wearing this beauty in the photo below.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With all leaked jerseys there is a real possibility it could turn out to look completely different but information from Conrad Burry of Sportslogos over the weekend suggested something along these lines.

Take a look at the photo below of the home jersey (the away jersey is said to be “Midnight Navy with a second color of Blue Nebula”) and let us know what you think.