So many faces, only 11 spots.
Let’s be honest: my guess at the upcoming USMNT lineup for tomorrow is just as good as yours or somebody else’s. Jurgen Klinsmann has mixed and matched so much that some fans are sure to be vigorously checking their mail to see if they got a last-minute call to the starting 11.
But we have a few hints, and there are some wrinkles to consider. First and foremost, Aron Johannsson has been sent back to AZ Alkmaar with a toe infection, replaced on the roster by Stanford youngster Jordan Morris. We’ve seen Morris before, and by all accounts he’s a promising talent, but he is still brand new to the system and without having been with the team for very long, it’s unlikely he’ll get a good look. Klinsmann didn’t replace Dempsey on the roster when he went home with a hamstring injury, so it’s likely that he called Morris in just to get some time to train with the team.
Also, consider Klinsmann’s comments following the 3-2 defeat to Denmark. No, not the silly ones where he said our back line played “fine” which still serve to boggle the mind. I’m talking about the comments he made stating he is using the difficult stretch of European friendlies to “see if players can break into the inner circle and into the starting lineup.” A mix of experienced players and fresh faces is expected, making it even more difficult to accurately predict who will see time.
Before we look at the potential lineup against Switzerland, let’s take a look back at the starting XI against Denmark:
USMNT vs Denmark: Rimando; Chandler, Orozco, Brooks, Garza; Zardes, Bedoya, Bradley (c), Johnson; Altidore, Johannsson.
Locks to start again: Altidore, Bradley, Johnson
With Dempsey sent home, the United States needs a captain and that’s clearly Michael Bradley. He and Altidore are starting unless one of them is injured, there’s almost no question about that. Fabian Johnson played on the wing against Switzerland, and he said he’s expecting to return to the back line against Denmark.
Likely to start: Zardes, Bedoya, Brooks, Orozco, Yarbrough
Gyasi Zardes was somewhat invisible against Denmark playing on the right side of a 4-4-2 midfield, but it would be odd if Klinsmann didn’t want to get an extended look at him, especially with Johannsson missing. Brooks buckled towards the end of the match on Friday, but performed well throughout and will likely get another look. Michael Orozco was the best defender the US had, and unless he’s not fit to play a full 90 minutes (Klinsmann said he was substituted because he was tired), he will start again. Alejandro Bedoya has become a regular starter under most circumstances, and could move back to the wing after playing CM last weekend. Nick Rimando is a known quantity between the sticks, and it’s likely that Klinsmann may switch goalkeepers to get a better look at the 26-year-old Yarbrough. Cody Cropper is also a possibility, but at 22 years old he has plenty of time to make an impression, whereas Klinsmann is hoping to get a commitment from Yarbrough and see where the 26-year-old is at.
Could see the starting lineup, will likely see time: Green, Rubin, Garza, Chandler, Ream, Yedlin, Shea
Defenders like Greg Garza and Timmy Chandler, despite very poor defensive performances against Denmark, are benefiting from the lack of defenders on the roster, and will see major playing time. One of them will likely make way for Johnson in the back line, but they will both probably see the field. Julian Green needs playing time to get his confidence back, and I have a feeling Klinsmann will give him the opportunity to show his club team he is better than where they are placing him. With Johnson moving to the back line, Klinsmann will need a wing player on the left, and he’s fallen in love with Brek Shea in that spot, and could use him wide should he keep Bedoya in the middle.
Tim Ream is an option as well, and the manager could give him a chance and choose to sit Brooks as punishment for his late capitulation against Denmark. DeAndre Yedlin was a substitute against Denmark, but struggled a bit and could be struggling with fitness. Finally, with Johannsson out, if Klinsmann hopes to deploy the same 4-4-2 he did against Denmark, he could put Rubio Rubin up front.
Could see time in the second half, but not likely to start: Williams, Alvarado, Morales, Ibarra
Danny Williams is stuck behind Michael Bradley in central midfield, which stinks for his starting prospects. Ibarra could see time in the attacking midfield, especially if Klinsmann chooses to change formations and go with just one striker in Johannsson’s absence. Ventura Alvarado committed to the United States, so Klinsmann has plenty of time to feel him out defensively. It’s way too little to judge him off, but Alvarado struggled off the bench against Denmark.
You can see that, with all these players legitimately in the mix, it’s difficult to sort through the muck to find where Klinsmann’s head is at. That being said, here’s the best shot, maintaining the 4-4-2 makeup:
Projected starting lineup vs Switzerland: Yarbrough; Johnson, Brooks, Orozco, Chandler; Shea, Bradley (c), Bedoya, Green; Altidore, Zardes.
A reminder of the full squad:
GK: Cody Cropper, Nick Rimando, William Yarbrough
DEF: Ventura Alvarado, John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, Greg Garza, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Brek Shea, DeAndre Yedlin
MID: Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Julian Green, Miguel Ibarra, Fabian Johnson, Alfredo Morales, Danny Williams, Gyasi Zardes
ST: Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, Rubio Rubin