Formation has again become a talking point for the United States men’s national team.
The flat back four of many recent games became a trio of backs for the 2-1 loss to Mexico on Friday, in what Jurgen Klinsmann described as a 3-4-3 (someone’s been watching Chelsea).
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The manager claimed that’s because he believed Christian Pulisic can thrive in a position just behind Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood, and said we’ll see it again in the future.
But the true reason for the move probably had a lot more to do with injured center back Geoff Cameron‘s unavailability, and the Yanks looked much better once they moved to a 4-4-2 (and Andres Guardado left the game with an injury of his own).
When considering what might change for the U.S. and Costa Rica on Tuesday, it’s necessary to mention that Klinsmann subbed both of his fullbacks on Friday. DeAndre Yedlin entered the match for Timmy Chandler while Michael Orozco came in for Matt Besler.
Clearly this wasn’t about conserving players for Tuesday. The match was very much in the balance. Klinsmann did say that Yedlin wasn’t playing over Chandler due to the latter’s performance in the Bundesliga and the former’s past few national teams camps and status in England’s second tier.
Performances change that, though, and Klinsmann’s thoughts on the play of Chandler and center back Omar Gonzalez are unknown.
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Assuming the manager opts for Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley in the middle again, a 4-4-2 would expect Christian Pulisic on one side and an experienced mid on the other. We tend to think MLS form would push Graham Zusi or Sacha Kljestan ahead of Alejandro Bedoya, but again, who knows?
Yedlin — Birnbaum — Brooks — Johnson
Zusi — Jones — Bradley — Pulisic
Wood — Altidore
Klinsmann could also go to more of an old stand-by, the 4-2-3-1, though that would deny a righteous partnership displayed Friday by Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore.
Chandler — Gonzalez — Brooks — Johnson
Jones — Bradley
Pulisic — Kljestan — Wood
And of course he could choose that 3-4-3…
Chandler — Brooks — Gonzalez
Yedlin — Jones — Bradley — Johnson
Altidore — Wood — Pulisic
These are just the options we could see from Klinsmann. What would you do?