The U.S. national team host Trinidad & Tobago in Jacksonville, Florida on Tuesday with qualification to the fifth-round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying all but secured.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side only need a draw to confirm their position in the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, better known as “The Hexagonal.”
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Even a defeat to the first-place Soca Warriors wouldn’t matter, as long as Guatemala doesn’t hammer St. Vincent and the Grenadines and there isn’t a 13-goal swing between the U.S. and Guatemala. Sidenote: not going to happen.
Klinsmann and his team will want first place (they’ve never failed to finish first in their group at this stage of qualifying) in Group C so expect them to go all-out for the win. Why does that matter so much? Well, finishing in first place would set up a home game against Mexico this November in the opening round of Hex games. That’s right. A game in
Columbus an unnamed U.S. city is on the line at a preferable time for the USMNT. Dos A Cero anyone?
Before all of that, let’s take a look at how the U.S. could line up bearing in mind Klinsmann has announced Tim Howard will start in goal, while DeAndre Yedlin will serve a one-game ban for yellow card accumulation. Also, Matt Besler has been allowed to return to Kansas City after the birth of his child on Friday, which also happened to be the same day he scored his first goal for the USMNT.
—– Howard —–
— Orozco — Cameron — Birnbaum — Acosta —
— Bedoya — Bradley — Kljestan — Johnson —
—– Altidore — Wood —–
—– Howard —–
— Cameron — Birnbaum — Gonzalez — Acosta —
—– Bradley — Kljestan —–
—– Pulisic —– Bedoya —– Wood —–
—– Altidore —–
—– Howard —–
— Orozco — Birnbaum — Gonzalez — Acosta —
—– Nagbe — Bradley — Kljestan —–
—– Zusi —–
—– Morris — Altidore —–
Option 1 is the obvious pick as Klinsmann will look to get the job done early against T&T and then chuck on a few youngsters in the second half. With no Yedlin and Besler, you could switch Geoff Cameron out to right back but he’s been a beast at center back so Michael Orozco can slot in nicely at RB and Omar Gonzalez or Steven Birnbaum can play at center back. In midfield a flat four could be the way to go, with Bedoya and Johnson out wide and skipper Michael Bradley coming back into the center of midfield. Sacha Kljestan looks like he will get a good run back in the USMNT after his fine form for the New York Red Bulls and it would be intriguing to see how he and Bradley link up once again.
Another reason to love option 1 is that this formation is very flexible and could easily shift to a 4-3-3 at the drop of a hat with Bedoya tucking into the middle and Fabian Johnson moving up as the left-sided attacking midfielder. Up top is the main reason I like option 1: Altidore and Wood. Both are in great form and their combination of power and pace could rip T&T apart.
If Klinsmann is going to bow to peer pressure then option 2 is the choice. Christian Pulisic continues to make a name for himself as the 17-year-old scored twice on Friday and there are calls for him to start in Florida. If Pulisic starts then using a 4-2-3-1 formation would see the U.S. get the best out of both Pulisic and perhaps Wood out wide as they’ll be able to link up with Altidore but still have plenty of protection with Bradley, Kljestan and essentially Bedoya as a midfield three. When the U.S. goes forward option 2 would become a 4-3-3. Lethal.
Then we have option 3: MLSers paradise. It would be kind of neat for Klinsmann to rest up as many players who are in Europe as possible and see what the MLS boys can do. In option 3 the only two players not in MLS are Orozco and Gonzalez who both play in Liga MX in Mexico. It would be quite beneficial for Klinsmann to give his European contingent a rest with the next round of games coming up in November. They’d be nice and fresh for that.