14 June 2011
After a very shaky performance against Panama that saw the Americans lose 2-1, expect Bob Bradley to make many changes to the starting eleven. Just how radical these changes will be is the question that I will try to answer.
Here is the starting lineup I believe Bob will choose...
Bob realizes at this point that he needs to put an experienced defender in the center of this defense. Bob has gone with the young Ream in the last 2 matches, but Panama exploited the Goodson-Ream tandem far too many times for Ream to warrant another start. Not to mention Ream's inexcusable clearance attempt that resulted in a PK and the eventual game-wining goal for Panama. Thus, look for Bradley to start Bocanegra at CB and put the speedy and powerful Lichaj on the left.
Bradley knows he needs goals in this game and he would like to get them early. As a result, it makes sense to put your most dangerous attacking option closer to the goal and to refine his responsibilities. This player is Clint Dempsey. Dempsey has been by far the most lethal scoring option for the US in this tournament. He already has one goal, but could have scored countless others. Putting Clint up top should result in an early goal for the US and could aid a struggling Jozy Altidore, as Dempsey is more adept at retaining possession compared to Agudelo.
Here is the starting lineup I would like to see...
I would make two more changes to the lineup I proposed above.
First, I would put Edu at CM over Jones. Jermaine looked absolutely lost in Saturday's match vs. Panama. For some reason in a lot of the games with the national team he does not impose his physical style of play. Jones is a big guy that can push guys off the ball and he's known for his crunching tackles. However with the US, these qualities have not stood out. To make matters worse, Jones is not effectively contributing on the offensive end either. I have not seen him unleash his deadly rifle that is his leg and he also continues to lose possession in the midfield. Often instead of making the smart, short Barcelona-esq pass, Jones will blast a long range over-the-top ball that rarely connects. I just haven't seen the Jones I was expecting.
Next, I'm sick of seeing Altidore continue to get starts. I know he usually has a couple of great moments a game, so it's hard to leave him off the field but for the other 95% of the match the guy is useless. He sits there, makes poor runs off the ball and is basically a statue out there that clogs up the middle of the field. I rather see the inexperienced Agudelo get the start, as he checks-in to the midfielders, hustles back on defense, and overall is just far more active than Jozy. Trust me, Agudelo is as technically gifted as Jozy and will score if given an opportunity.
What do you think the US starting lineup will be? Share your comments below.