Ahead of the USMNT’s crucial CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifier in Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday (Watch Live, 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC Universo and online via Live Extra) in Port of Spain, it’s safe to say Jurgen Klinsmann has been trying to put the record straight.
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Klinsmann’s comments calling criticism of the U.S. national team and youth national teams “immature” and “simply wrong” are the big talking points ahead of this match.
However, there’s no doubting that this will be the USA’s toughest qualifier in the first round before the Hexagonal. T&T have been improving after a strong Gold Cup this summer, good friendly wins and a victory in their WCQ opener in Guatemala on Friday.
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Below we take a look at how Klinsmann’s men will lineup in the Caribbean.
—– Howard —–
— Yedlin — Cameron — Besler — Ream —
Zardes — Jones — Beckerman – Bradley — Johnson
—– Altidore —–
All-out attack XI
—– Howard —–
— Cameron — Besler — Ream — Johnson —
—– Beckerman —–
— Yedlin — Bradley — Zardes —
— Altidore — Wood —
Keep it steady XI
—– Howard —–
— Johnson — Cameron — Besler — Ream —
—– Jones —–
— Zardes — Nagbe — Bradley — Shea —
— Altidore —
After the resounding win against St. Vincent and the Grenadines last Friday (forget about going 1-0 down early on…) Klinsmann told U.S. Soccer’s in-house media channel not to expect many changes, and I don’t in terms of personnel because this squad is young and, especially in midfield, options are limited. The only thing we may see in this game is a more conservative approach with Jozy Altidore left up top on his own and an extra central midfielder — maybe the experience of Kyle Beckerman would be perfect — added to clog things up and stop the U.S. from getting involved in a counter-attacking game which T&T will hope for. Tim Howard will start in goal, that we know, and the back four looks settled enough. Question marks continue to linger around DeAndre Yedlin‘s defensive work but with Fabian Johnson impressing in his natural position of left wing, I’d expect him to stay in a more advanced role. The only other thing here is that if Bobby Wood (who is coming of age and certainly doesn’t deserve to be dropped) is ousted in favor of another midfielder, then could Darlington Nagbe step up and make his first start for the USMNT? The Portland Timbers star has the creativity and engine to join Altidore in attack and could provide the U.S. with an offensive outlet as well as increased solidity in the middle of the pitch. Jermaine Jones’ injury situation complicate matters in central midfield but if he isn’t fit then I’d expect Beckerman to sit alongside Michael Bradley with either Nagbe or Mix Diskerud in front of them.
It comes down to one thing with this team selection: is Klinsmann happy to grab a point? If he is, which he has stated he will be, then Altidore up top on his own and packing the midfield makes sense. However, if the U.S. wants to make a statement against a strong CONCACAF foe on the road, he has to start with the same team which beat St. Vincents, minus Howard coming in for Brad Guzan.