Stars and Gripes

Occasionally interesting insight (and gripes) about the USMNT

Who Should Play vs. Turkey?

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Tomorrow’s final send-off match versus Turkey gives Bob Bradley his first chance to field his preferred XI since October, bringing Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onyewu back into the fold following their absence in Amsterdam for the Netherlands friendly this past March.  While the June 12th clash with England will drive Bradley’s selection, he may also look to experiment, with the comfort that he’ll have at least one more dry run with Australia in a week’s time.

For Bradley, there’s more good news than bad.  Aside from Charlie Davies, he has a nearly complete pool to select from, though he no doubt would have appreciated the comfort provided by a fit Brian Ching.  The sudden re-emergence of DaMarcus Beasley, absent from the national team picture since his sub-par performance in the Confederations Cup, affords additional flexibility.

Despite injury worries, the back line appears for the most part set, with Onyweu and Jay DeMerit likely to partner the middle, while Carlos Bocanegra will line up at left back.  Bradley’s remaining choice is right back, with a contest raging between Steve Cherundolo, who wore the captain’s armband on Tuesday, and Jonathan Spector, who had the starting job locked down following the Confederations Cup last summer.

Spector struggled this past season at West Ham, where he was forced to play out of position on the left side.  Yet I didn’t think Cherundolo looked particularly sharp in Hartford, either.  While he had some impressive moments coming forward, he had trouble dealing with speed down the left side, and his touch left much to be desired.  In the end, I think Spector gets the nod.  His ability to play quality balls into the box will be valuable against England, particularly with Dempsey lurking.

In the midfield, Bradley and Donovan are the locks, though Landon is a candidate for either wing.  The battle to pair with Bradley is down to Maurice Edu and Ricardo Clark, both of whom ended their club seasons on a high note, having locked down starting jobs for Rangers and Eintract Frankfurt, respectively.  With memories of his strong defensive performance against Spain eleven months ago, I would give the nod to Clark, who will have his hands full locking down Steven Gerrard.  Edu offers versatility off the bench, and his more polished offensive game may be better suited to the matches against Algeria and Slovenia.

Bradley has depth in choice on the wings, with Donovan, Dempsey, Beasley and Stuart Holden all potential candidates.  My guess—and the prevailing wisdom—is that Dempsey will move up top to play off of Altidore as a second forward.  Donovan should remain on the left wing, where he’s been so effective for the last year.  Beasley gets the nod on the right wing.  Holden has done nothing but impress when given the chance, from last summer’s qualifier in Mexico City through his 90-minute run out against the Czech Republic.  But Beasley’s ability to track back on defense will be critical in facing an England team that prefers to flow offensively down the left side, moving through Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, and Wayne Rooney.  Beasley’s pace will help to keep Cole in check (particularly in light of the troubles afflicting the rest of England’s backline), and provide cover for Spector or Cherundolo, all while sacrificing little in the way of offense prowess.  It also allows Beasley and Donovan to play their preferred “inverted” wing spots, giving them the ability to cut in and play the ball to their desired foot.

I expect the starting lineup to look like this:

As for subs, expect Holden, Torres and Edu to be given time in the midfield.  Torres may well be the most technically gifted player on the roster, and while it’s unlikely he’ll see time against England, his creativity could be key against more defensive-minded teams like Algeria and Slovenia.  My guess would be that Clark comes out at the half in favor of Torres, with Bradley eventually making way for Edu.  After riding the pine for most of the year, Beasley could use a full 90, so Donovan making way for Holden, with Beasley switching to the left wing (or left back) would make a good deal of sense.

Up top, one would think that both Gomez and Buddle will see action—my guess would be Gomez in for Dempsey on the earlier side, with Buddle eventually replacing Altidore a bit later on.

In the back, it’s possible we’ll see Clarence Goodson in for DeMerit (one would think Onyewu needs to go 90 for fitness purposes), though Beasley sliding back to left back could also make sense.

Regardless, it should be interesting.


Written by Pete Kavanaugh

May 28, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Sweet graphic…fag.

    Pretty well-written for someone from Pouco Portugal. And I mostly agree with what you had to say…esp Clark over Edu. Not from the “talent” perspective, but more from the “eff Rangers” point of view.


    May 29, 2010 at 11:07 am

  2. Oh, yeah, and clearly your blog works from the chineee parts. i guess the content is not considered a threat to chinese sovereignty. please remedy this immediately.


    May 29, 2010 at 11:08 am

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