Once again Jurgen the Smiler has found himself as the major headline of the US Men’s National team, after leaving Jozy Altidore off the roster for the final two matches of the Semifinal Round of Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Altidore, currently the joint leading scorer in Netherlands’ Eredivisie, has been left off, not due to his club form, but due to his ineffectiveness during recent USMNT matches. In Klinsmann’s defense, Altidore has not performed to the same level with the national team as he has with AZ Alkmaar, but can the USMNT really afford to leave their best scoring option off the roster? This is a bold move by Klinsmann, a move that will go one of two ways. If the team wins both games and scores multiple goals in the process then Klinsmann will have total respect and, more importantly, power over his players moving forward. If it doesn’t work, Klinsmann will be out of a job. It’s quite a gamble, but possibly one worth taking when the opponents are Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.
Let’s take a few minutes away from Klinsmann and look at a potential lineup for Friday’s match. With the absence of F. Johsnon, Donovan, and Shea, it might be time for Klisnmann (okay maybe it wasn’t a few minutes unless you’re a really slow reader) to rethink the picking of E. Johnson and Gordon, as not sure there are any players left to cross the ball! During Klinsmann’s reign as manager he has been fond of the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, but in the last match against Jamaica he went with the conventional 4-4-2. And in the first half it was probably the best the US has played. Though, at this point, it’s about getting the best players on the field in the formation that will give you the most success. With that in mind, if the correct players are chosen, a 4-2-3-1 should give the US the result they need.
Cherundolo – Cameron – Bocanegra – Parkhurst
Williams – Bradley
Dempsey – Kljestan – Zusi
Danny Williams was a standout performer against Jamaica and could be an option at left back, but again, Klinsmann should keep players in their positions of strength. Williams as one of the two holding mids will provide so much freedom and coverage to players around him. It will allow Cherundolo to fly up the flank, or for Bradley to go on a run forward to get on the end of the cross, or for Dempsey to do what he does best: find open spots. Zusi was a surprise starter against Jamaica, but did more than enough to keep his place, even if Donovan wasn’t injured, and should provide some width when needed. Will Klinsmann pick Kljestan to start over Jermaine Jones? Probably not, but while Jones is losing possession, committing fouls, and throwing his hands in the air in frustration - sit back and wonder what it would be like with the Anderlecht boy running with the ball instead. Belgian Waffles for everyone! The one player who’s stock has risen the most during the Klinsmann era is Herculez Gomez, and he is the perfect forward for a 4-2-3-1, with his unrelenting running and ability to score.
Much has been made of leaving Jozy Altidore out of the United States squad, but imagine newspapers on Wednesday morning with this headline: The United States Fails to Qualify for Brazil. In a few days, Jurgen Klinsmann will either be the hero or the goat, but as a prolific goal scorer for Germany and numerous clubs - maybe that’s the way he likes it best.