The starting XI was just announced, and there are three surprises – calls which range from “I can kind of see that” to “what’s going on here.”
From least to most surprising:
1. Chris Wondolowski starts at forward over Eddie Johnson – This one is a little strange because Johnson is generally perceived to be closer to Brazil than “Wondo,” but the reasons why some see him as a lock don’t necessarily mean he’s above Wondolowski on the number nine’s depth chart. When Johnson has played, he’s been used wide more often than not, so in a camp where there were only two options to start at forward in front of Clint Dempsey, it’s not a total shock that Wondo got the call.
2. Tony Beltran starts at right back over DeAndre Yedlin – This may be surprising, but it is informative. Up until tonight’s lineup was announced, the path to Brazil seemed to be clearing out for Yedlin, and while that may still be the case, Beltran getting the call ahead of him does hint at how far Yedlin has to go. Maybe Klinsmann just didn’t want to throw the young right back in against Mexico, or maybe the January call up was more of a first time look than an indication of where the Seattle defender falls in the pecking order. Regardless, Yedlin, widely thought of as a likely starter tonight, begins the match on the bench.
3. Brad Davis starts at left midfield over Landon Donovan – Fans are not going to be happy about this one, but Brad Davis has clearly impressed Jurgen Klinsmann. Again. This isn’t new — the Houston star has regularly gotten more time than many predict — but starting over Landon Donovan is a mild shock. Whereas the LA Galaxy star was seen as potentially vying with Fabian Johnson for the starting spot in Brazil, now we have to reconsider where he (as well as Davis) fall on the depth chart. It will be interesting to hear Klinsmann’s rationale post-match
Here’s the full lineup (graphic to the upper right):
Starting XI: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Michael Parkhurst; Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis; Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski
Bench: Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Julian Green, Bill Hamid, Eddie Johnson, Sean Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin, Luis Gil