World Soccer Source

Soccer and Football News and Commentary on World Soccer, the United States Men's National Team (USMNT), Major League Soccer (MLS), World Football, and American Soccer. All articles, opinions, and commentary by Colin Reese. Twitter: @COLINREESE. Facebook: WorldSoccerSource

Improving the USA National Team Midfield

March 30th, 2015

 

Michael Bradley (Photo: Garrett Ellwood / Colorado Rapids)

Michael Bradley (Photo: Garrett Ellwood / Colorado Rapids)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

As a midfield trio, Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Benny Feilhaber make a lot of sense.

 

That’s a box-to-box midfielder, a defensive midfielder, and an attacking midfielder.

 

This formula is used by many of the top national and club teams in the world, and with Feilhaber’s improved defending and work rate, Feilhaber would also be helping Bradley and Cameron to win back possession.

 

Winning the battle for the midfield is a crucial component to winning games, especially against elite teams full of pass masters.

 

In the American player pool for the national team, Bradley, Cameron, and Feilhaber are arguably the very best options for the central midfielder spot, the defensive midfielder spot, and the attacking midfielder spot.

 

Mix Diskerud is certainly a talented attacking midfielder that is a two-way player that is proven against top-level competition, but Feilhaber is more experienced and arguably better against the best teams. Either way, Diskerud is capable of playing this role as well.

 

Given all of the line-ups and players that Jürgen Klinsmann has used in the American midfield, it is quite surprising that a trio of Bradley, Cameron, and Feilhaber has never been used, particularly because Klinsmann likes the 4-3-3 formation.

 

Bradley, Cameron, and Feilhaber form a group of experienced U.S. internationals that can win back possession and keep possession, and all three players stand out amongst most American players for their technical ability. Clint Dempsey is more technical and creative than all three, but a defensive midfielder and central midfielder with loads of two-footed technical ability and creativity is nothing to be taken lightly.

 

The United States is often struggling to keep possession against the top national teams, if not totally overrun, so it makes it even more baffling that Klinsmann wouldn’t immediately gravitate towards starting a three-man midfield with three different types of midfielders that can play together at the speed of elite international soccer.

 

Klinsmann views recruiting dual-nationals from Europe as the solution to improving the USMNT, but the real problem has been not using the right combination of players.

 

Trying new players and thinking outside of the box are great tactics, but totally abandoning proven tactics and overlooking proven players doesn’t help the national team.

 

Based on the American player pool, arguing that the United States has a better midfield trio that Bradley, Cameron, and Feilhaber is hard to do.

 

Firstly, Cameron and Bradley form a defensive midfielder partnership where each knows and accepts their different roles, and secondly, Feilhaber is the most technical, the most experienced, and the most proven of the American attacking midfielders.

 

His progress in becoming a two-way midfielder that defends more and covers more territory in winning back possession only makes him more worthy now than in the past. At 30 years old, he’s enjoying his peak years.

 

Bradley, Cameron, and Feilhaber. Three proven, technical, and athletic American midfielders that play different but complementary roles.

 

The USA National Team needs to try out this midfield trio to look to stabilize and improve the squad.

 

 

Who Should Make the USMNT March Roster?

March 6th, 2015
Ventura Alvarado (Photo: MexSport)

Ventura Alvarado (Photo: MexSport)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Every one of the 23 players listed below are experienced players that have the quality to excel at the international level, and essentially every one of these players sees consistent playing time at the club level.

 

There are three goalkeepers, four center backs, four outside backs, six midfielders (including several defensive midfielders that also play center back), and six forwards (including players that are attacking midfielders/forwards).

 

Here is World Soccer Source’s USA 23-man roster proposal for the upcoming international friendlies as of right now:

 

Goalkeepers (3): Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids)

 

 

Defenders (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club América), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Steve Birnbaum (DC United), Michael Orozco (Puebla), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

 

 

Midfielders (6): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Mix Diskerud (NYC FC), Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids)

 

 

Forwards (6): Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana)

 

 

Other Players To Watch: Rubio Rubin, Lee Nguyen, Alejandro Guido, Shane O’Neill, Matt Hedges, Alonso Hernandez, Kelyn Rowe, José Villarreal, Chris Klute, Andrew Farrell, Robbie Rogers, Benji Joya, Paul Arriola, Perry Kitchen, Will Trapp, Kellyn Acosta.

 

 

How Gyasi Zardes Improves the USMNT

February 23rd, 2015

 

Gyasi Zardes, USMNT Starter. (Photo: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Gyasi Zardes, USMNT Starter. (Photo: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Gyasi Zardes was a player that American soccer fans and observers of American soccer wanted to see play international soccer, and he exceeded expectations.

 

Zardes didn’t just have a good showing that included a great solo run and an inch perfect assist delivered from a sprint, Zardes played like a versatile attacker that could keep possession in midfield, play wide, play centrally, and attack the opposition directly.

 

The LA Galaxy striker proved himself to be a USMNT attacker with surprising versatility. Zardes was handed a national team start, and he played where the game dictated rather than playing like a robot that looked like he was just trying to follow the coaching staff’s instructions like Graham Zusi does.

 

Once the whistle was blown, Zardes decided to just put his stamp on the game by combining with Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, and Jozy Altidore. Zardes made himself a useful teammate that his more experienced teammates trusted to include in the game, and he didn’t ask for their permission. He included himself.

 

When Zardes recovered a bouncing ball with space in front of him, he didn’t wait for an invitation to sprint at the defense and release Dempsey with an elegant pass to score a world-class goal.

 

Dempsey made a hard finish look easy, but the USMNT does not have many players that would have had the spirit and ability to charge the defense and feed the USA’s best player.

 

Lots of players would have tried to play their first international game as a starter like a Yes Man looking to follow instructions and not make a mistake, but Zardes was totally unfazed by starting with Dempsey and Bradley; he didn’t defer to them.

 

Time and time again Dempsey has displayed his willingness to combine with anyone that is looking to play exciting and skillful attacking soccer, and he clearly enjoyed playing with Zardes.

 

Zardes has two huge backers to be a USMNT starter (Dempsey and Bradley), plus Zardes has the vote of the person with the most power, the coach.

 

No matter what Klinsmann decides to do about the central midfield positions, Zardes has likely won himself a starting spot on the national team.

 

With Zardes starting, the USA probably needs to start Geoff Cameron with Bradley to give the squad another defensive midfielder in the starting line-up, but this still leaves room for Mix Diskerud or Joe Corona to start as a Number 10.

 

Corona can also be used as a wing opposite Zardes, but whether Zardes is playing as an outside forward or a wide midfielder on paper doesn’t really matter because Zardes can keep possession or counter-attack, plus the attacker knows how to set up goals and score them.

 

Gyasi Zardes is likely here to stay as a U.S. National Team starter, and that’s a good thing.

 

Who cares what his position is on paper?

 

Zardes knows how to play with the USMNT’s two best players: Dempsey and Bradley.

 

The Best Brazil 23 (February 2015)

February 4th, 2015

 

Neymar (Photo: AP)

Neymar (Photo: AP)

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Below is the best Seleção 23-man roster as of February 2015:

 

Goalkeepers: Rafael, Diego Alves, Jefferson

 

Center Backs: Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marquinhos, Miranda

 

Right Backs: Danilo, Bruno Peres

 

Left Backs: Marcelo, Filipe Luís

 

Defensive Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo, Fernandinho, Paulinho, Ramires

 

Attacking Midfielders: Oscar, Willian, Felipe Anderson, Coutinho

 

Forwards: Neymar, Lucas, Luiz Adriano, Pato

 

 

Three Young Kings: Neymar, Pogba, Varane

February 4th, 2015

 

Raphaël Varane and Paul Pogba. (Photo: AFP)

Raphaël Varane and Paul Pogba. (Photo: AFP)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

There’s about to be a regime change in World Football, and Neymar, Paul Pogba, and Raphaël Varane will be the undisputed best footballers in the world at their respective positions: forward, midfielder, defender.

 

Neymar is widely considered the heir apparent to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but, for this writer, Neymar already wears the crown.

 

The French midfielder Paul Pogba of Juventus continues to dazzle fans, players, coaches, and the media with his incredible technical ability and completeness as a midfielder, and all of this skill is present in a 6’5” frame that displays power, speed, and rubber band-like flexibility.

 

This season, Raphaël Varane – another French player – has oddly been the third choice center back for Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti after Sergio Ramos and Pepe, but Ancelotti has also shown a tendency to use Varane in the biggest games. Last season, Varane started for Real Madrid when the stakes were the highest.

 

For this writer, only Thiago Silva is superior to Varane, and the argument can easily be made that Varane is amongst the top three center backs in the world. Varane also excels as a right back – and one would imagine as a left back as well.

 

While Neymar is the most famous of the three, both Pogba and Varane are household names for soccer fans, and both are considered world-class footballers of the highest order.

 

As each day goes by, Neymar, Pogba, and Varane become the best footballers around at their respective category of position.

 

Let’s look at each player in greater detail:

 

FORWARD: NEYMAR (Brazil, Barcelona)

 

Neymar is the crown jewel of world football. His overall skill, dribbling, and creativity have no rival, and the speed and spontaneity of his attacking make him impossible to shut down.

 

While Messi is an incredible passer who constantly breaks down defenses with perfect passes, Neymar has a more versatile arsenal of passing skills. Messi’s perfectly weighted chips and balls played over the top require unbelievably skill, but Neymar’s passing skills are more complete and advanced due to his use of both feet.

 

Neymar uses both feet interchangeably to dribble, pass, and score, and his ability to beat defenses by himself or by orchestrating the attack make him a once in a generation player.

 

The Brazilian prodigy is mostly known for his electrifying speed, his tricks, and his ability to score, but Neymar is a very complete attacker that is a deadball and penalty kick specialist, in addition to being a playmaker that makes his teammates better.

 

Finally, Neymar has always been a big-game player that always delivers despite the pressure. Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have always seen much better success in club soccer than in international soccer, but Neymar has always excelled and put up big numbers on both the club and international level.

 

Neymar is the King of World Football, and he has the potential to go down as the best footballer of all-time.

 

MIDFIELDER: Paul POGBA (France, Juventus)

 

Paul Pogba has always been seen as a prodigy that was a complete midfielder blessed with the physique and athleticism of an NBA shooting guard, but the French midfielder continues to show more and more trickery and creativity in his touches, dribbling, passing, and shooting.

 

Some of Pogba’s first big-time highlights were his rocketed goals from distance with either foot, but now Pogba is showing a degree of dribbling in tight spaces and in the open field that is often reminiscent of Neymar.

 

In addition to being a powerful and technical two-way player, Pogba has now become something of a magician that plays like a Number 10 but tackles and defends like a world-class center back.

 

If you add to all of this that Pogba is so influential all over the field and so tireless in his work rate, the Frenchman becomes a player that can boss games by himself and determine the outcome of games single-handedly.

 

Paul Pogba is a monster of a midfielder, and the undisputed best midfielder of his generation.

 

DEFENDER: Raphaël VARANE (France, Real Madrid)

 

Like Neymar and Pogba, Varane looked world-class as a teenager. It was simply impossible to watch Varane play against elite players and not see a center back that was basically perfect with his tackling and technical ability, and he is close to unbeatable in a foot race.

 

Varane is about 6’4”, and this size and speed combined with his calmness on the ball make him the heir apparent to Thiago Silva. Varane is already a proven performer at the very highest level, and he not only performs well as a defender, but he often outshines every other defender by some distance.

 

In many games, Varane shuts every opposition attacker down and makes it almost futile to even attempt to get past him. If you get past him, he’ll catch you and win the ball back with a clean tackle or takeaway, but most of the time opposing players can’t beat him 1v1.

 

The overall skill and grace Varane shows in his technical ability with the ball is a sight to see, and Varane’s skill and athleticism is all effortless. The French defender often looks like he is just jogging around when he easily outpaces attackers and passes the ball around with ease.

 

Raphaël Varane is a monster of a center back, and he is the undisputed best defender of his generation. Varane even looks much better than the legendary French defender Lilian Thuram.

 

 

The Effect on the Ballon d’Or Race

 

With both Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo years away from slowing down, it will be interesting to see how Neymar, Pogba, and Varane affect the Ballon d’Or race. Neymar has already been knocking on the door for about two years, but now Pogba has to be considered a serious contender from now on. Varane will likely be at somewhat of a disadvantage as a defender, but his grace, speed, and solid defending will certainly make him an undeniable contender for years to come.

 

How long will the Ballon d’Or be a two-man race?

 

 

The Best USMNT 23 (February 2015)

February 2nd, 2015

 

Joe Corona (Photo: Club Tijuana)

Joe Corona (Photo: Club Tijuana)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

The 23-man United States Men’s National Team roster proposed below includes a balance of center backs, outside backs, defensive midfielders, attacking midfielders, and forwards (Number 9s and second strikers).

 

Here is World Soccer Source’s Best USMNT 23 for February 2015:

 

GOALKEEPERS: Brad GUZAN, Clint IRWIN, Zack STEFFEN

 

-Guzan is the clear Number 1, but it’s time to bring Irwin and Steffen into the fold.

-Irwin is one of the very best keepers in MLS, and the USA would be wise to  start making the young Steffen part of the senior squad.

 

DEFENDERS: Ventura ALVARADO, John BROOKS, Shane O’NEILL, Steve BIRNBAUM, DeAndre YEDLIN, Greg GARZA, Andrew FARRELL, Chris KLUTE

 

– Alvarado, Brooks, O’Neill, and Birnbaum are the four center backs.

– Michael Orozco is one of the best American center backs and somewhat of a big-time snub from this 23-man roster, but Birnbaum showed well against Chile. O’Neill is widely considered one of the very best center back prospects for the USA.

– Yedlin, Garza, Farrell, and Klute are the outside backs. Klute, who is right-footed, plays left back and right back.

– Farrell is a center back that had been playing as a right back for the New England Revolution, and Alvarado, who is really a center back, can play every defensive position for Club América.

– Garza recently injured his knee, and depending on the gravity of the injury, Fabian Johnson would deserve his left back spot. The argument can be made that Johnson, despite being more skilled than both players, doesn’t track back on defense as well as Klute or Garza.

 

MIDFIELDERS: Michael BRADLEY, Geoff CAMERON, Maurice EDU, Benny FEILHABER, Mix DISKERUD, Dillon POWERS

 

-Bradley, Cameron, and Edu are defensive midfielders. Bradley also plays as a box-to-box midfielder.

-Powers plays as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder, and defensive midfielder.

-Feilhaber and Diskerud are attacking midfielders that have also become two-way central midfielders.

 

FORWARDS: Clint DEMPSEY, Jozy ALTIDORE, Joe Benny CORONA, Juan AGUDELO, Rubio RUBIN, Alejandro GUIDO

 

– Dempsey plays as a withdrawn striker, attacking midfielder, and winger.

– Corona and Guido are attacking midfielders that play as wings, second strikers, and Number 10s.

-Guido is more of a senior team player for Tijuana than Paul Arriola, who is another American with Xolos to watch.

-Altidore, Agudelo, and Rubin are Number 9s.

-Agudelo and Rubin are more versatile than Altidore, and they can both play wide as well.

-Agudelo is the most talented of the American strikers.

 

 

Editor’s Note: World Soccer Source normally includes Benji Joya because of his overall skill, athleticism, and his completeness as a midfielder, but Joya’s status with Santos Laguna is currently unclear after not being signed by the Chicago Fire after his loan with MLS.  

 

The USMNT Compared to Brazil

February 2nd, 2015

 

Clint Dempsey remains the face and undisputed leader of American soccer and the U.S. national team. (Photo: AP)

Clint Dempsey remains the face and undisputed leader of American soccer and the U.S. national team. (Photo: AP)

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

The United States Men’s National Team continues to lag behind elite national teams that demonstrate collective team technical ability and visibly superior play, but the United States can play like the best national teams, even if the overall skill level isn’t as high.

 

Brazil for example has a specific formula that it always uses.

 

Brazil uses two modern outside backs that flank two athletic and technical center backs that show elite defending.

 

Additionally, the Seleção deploys two defensive midfielders: one destroyer and one box-to-box central midfielder. In the attack, Brazil uses a hybrid between three attacking midfielders and one striker or two attacking midfielders with two forwards.

 

Brazil also always uses a Number 10, whether it’s a type of fast, goal-scoring Number 10 like Neymar or one like Oscar. Neymar plays differently than Zidane played, but using Neymar as a Number 10 gives Brazil a real playmaker.

 

The formula that Brazil and many other national teams use works.

 

The United States can use Brazilian tactics without being as talented and elite. The United States has the personnel to field a 4-2-3-1 or a fluid 4-2-2-2.

 

Jürgen Klinsmann should use the 4-2-3-1 formation, but he should use it with players playing their natural positions.

 

The USA has outside backs and center backs. DeAndre Yedlin is a talented right back, and Greg Garza and Fabian Johnson are talented left backs.

 

To be fair, Johnson plays right back and left back.

 

Kofi Sarkodie and Andrew Farrell are two other talented right backs in the American player pool, and Chris Klute plays both right back and left back like Johnson does. Klute is extremely fast just like Yedlin is.

 

These types of outside backs give the USA width, which lets the midfielders look to focus on keeping possession and breaking down defenses with quick passing slightly more in the center of the field.

 

The USA also has skilled center backs. Geoff Cameron, Ventura Alvarado, John Brooks, Michael Orozco, Maurice Edu, and several other center backs are all talented – some more so than others. Steve Birnbaum has proven to be capable as well. Shane O’Neill looks the part as well.

 

Certainly, Yedlin, Alvarado, Brooks, and Garza or Johnson form a Back Four where all of the players are good enough to play well against top national teams, and all of these players are playing their natural positions.

 

Forming the line of two defensive midfielders, Cameron as the midfield destroyer with Bradley as the more box-to-box midfielder is an obvious partnership, and it has proven to work.

 

As the line of three attacking midfielders, what’s wrong with starting Joe Corona, Benny Feilhaber or Mix Diskerud, and Clint Dempsey?

 

Nothing is wrong with that, and at least those players have the technical ability, experience, and athleticism to play skill soccer as opposed to kick and run or bunker ball against top national teams.

 

Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo are both strikers that the United States can start up top, but Agudelo is out of match fitness due to his recent time without a club until he resigned with the New England Revolution.

 

Both Altidore and Agudelo are skilled and athletic strikers that can cause problems for top national teams, stretch the opposition’s defense, and put the ball in the back of the net.

 

This combination of defensive midfielders both playing the ball out of the back and protecting the attackers and Back Four allows for the United States to really display the proactive soccer that Klinsmann has spoken so much about.

 

With Klinsmann, there has never been a logical and organized system of deploying the best American players in their natural positions, but if he were to start the best American players where they belong, then the United States would at least be looking to impose its will on the opposition and display quality soccer.

 

Other players need to be tested out and given experience, but the players and formation discussed above would be a step in the right direction for Klinsmann.

 

Bob Bradley used to deploy two defensive midfielders in the middle of the midfield with Dempsey and Landon Donovan on the left and right wings respectively, but Klinsmann’s job was to take this one step further and make sure a playmaker was used in place of the second forward in the 4-4-2.

 

If Bradley had used a quick playmaker as a second striker, then he would have been able to keep his formation, but at least his tactics were clear.

 

Klinsmann has the ability to have his defensive midfielders, his attacking midfielders, and his forwards along with a technical, athletic, and defensively-solid Back Four, but he just hasn’t fielded this sort of line-up.

 

The United States isn’t as good as world football’s elite national teams, but at least the coach should use the personnel and tactics to play soccer that is closer to elites.

 

At the 2014 World Cup, the United States was thoroughly outclassed with only the spirit and work ethic of American players making the USA’s games close. Certain American players played well, but the overall visual of the United States was a team still lacking in collective technical ability.

 

To close the gap with the Brazils of the world, Jürgen Klinsmann owes the United States, its players, and its fans a national team that plays skilled players in their natural positions in an effective formation, and Klinsmann has plenty of players to choose from that were born and/or raised in the United States.

 

Klinsmann’s insistence on looking for dual-nationals abroad as opposed to all of the players that developed in the United States is insulting to American soccer fans, and his policy of always looking abroad first has been ineffective at closing the gap with elite national teams.

 

There’s nothing wrong with using players from abroad that qualify to represent the United States due to their background, but Klinsmann has overlooked too many players that developed in the United States.

 

Even if he has used plenty of MLS players, the overall amount of promising and young American talents that were born and/or raised in the United States have quite simply been untapped and untested by Klinsmann.

 

The Best American Footballers (February 2015)

January 27th, 2015

 

Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. (Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Europe)

Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. (Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Europe)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Ranking The Best American Footballers (February 2015)

 

1. Clint DEMPSEY (Seattle Sounders)

2. Michael BRADLEY (Toronto FC)

3. Jermaine JONES (New England Revolution)

4. Mix DISKERUD (New York City FC)

5. Jozy ALTIDORE (Toronto FC)

6. DeAndre YEDLIN (Tottenham)

7. Fabian JOHNSON (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

8. Geoff CAMERON (Stoke City)

9. Brad GUZAN (Aston Villa)

10. John BROOKS (Hertha Berlin)

11. Joe CORONA (Club Tijuana)

12. Lee NGUYEN (New England Revolution)

13. Greg GARZA (Club Tijuana)

14. Ventura ALVARADO (Club América)

15. Juan AGUDELO (New England Revolution)

16. Aron JÓHANNSSON (AZ Alkmaar)

17. Rubio RUBIN (Utrecht)

18. Joe GYAU (Borussia Dortmund)

19. Dillon POWERS (Colorado Rapids)

20. Will TRAPP (Columbus Crew)

21. Kelyn ROWE (New England Revolution)

22. Shane O’NEILL (Colorado Rapids)

23. Maurice EDU (Philadelphia Union)

24. Emerson HYNDMAN (Fulham)

25. Alejandro GUIDO (Club Tijuana)

26. Kellyn ACOSTA (FC Dallas)

27. Benji JOYA (Santos Laguna)

28. Paul ARRIOLA (Club Tijuana)

29. Andrew FARRELL (New England Revolution)

30. Chris KLUTE (Columbus Crew)

 

 

How Can the USMNT Improve in 2015?

January 26th, 2015

 

Ventura Alvarado (Photo: MexSport

Ventura Alvarado (Photo: MexSport

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

How Can the USMNT Improve in 2015? 

 

Making instant improvements to the United States Men’s National Team after the friendlies against Chile and Panama with a somewhat limited roster is something that is easy for Jürgen Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer.

 

Call up Ventura Alvarado and make him a starting center back

 

Starting Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks at center back at the soonest opportunity is something Klinsmann and the United States Men’s National Team should do.

 

Alvarado brings two-footed skill, size, speed, a good reading of the game, sound defending, and versatility to the American defense.

 

Jermaine Jones is a good center back even at 33 years old, but Alvarado is 22 and playing for Club America.

 

This center back tandem of Alvarado and Brooks opens the door to starting Geoff Cameron and Michael Bradley as the defensive midfielders, which has proved to be a good partnership where both players know their roles.

 

This formula gives the United States a young, talented, and athletic center back pairing with a defensive midfield pairing with a more clear cut assignment of roles.

 

Start Cameron and Bradley as the defensive midfielders

 

Let Cameron stay back a bit deeper with Bradley free to play a box-to-box role filled with plenty of defending and attacking forays.

 

Getting past both Cameron and Bradley should prove to be much more difficult than breaking down the center of the American line-up previously.

 

Stacking the heart of the midfield and the defense with Bradley, Cameron, Alvarado, and Brooks would certainly make for a more imposing and effective United States.

 

What would the defense look like? 

 

The rest of the American defense has more or less been solidified with DeAndre Yedlin at right back and Greg Garza or Fabian Johnson at left back, and Brad Guzan is of course the undisputed starting American goalkeeper.

 

Guzan in goal with Yedlin, Alvarado, Brooks, and Garza as the Back Four with Cameron and Bradley lining up in front of them is something for American soccer fans to get excited about.

 

Who should start in the attack?

 

This defense and defensive midfield pairing gives the United States the freedom to stack the attack with talented, creative, and fast players that can actually go at the opposition with aggressive, technical, and spontaneous attacking play.

 

An attack with Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, and Clint Dempsey lining up behind Jozy Altidore at striker is really a no-brainer.

 

While they are other players to test and give minutes to, this line-up is a massive improvement over previous American line-ups.

 

Alejandro Bedoya has been doing well as a wide player for the United States, but Corona is a better passer and creator. Corona should start over Bedoya, who is a fast and talented attacker that actually plays in Ligue 1.

 

Alvarado in particular is key to this improvement in the USA XI because he not only solves the center back problem, but he also solves the defensive midfielder problem.

 

If Cameron is available to play with Bradley in the heart of the midfield, then there’s no need to force Bradley into too constrictive of a role as either a playmaker, which is Klinsmann’s bizarre preference, or as a midfield destroyer.

 

This set-up also allows Diskerud to play his natural position as a Number 10 or central attacking midfielder. He has vastly improved his defending and overall two-way play as well.

 

There are lots of talented and exciting players in the American player pool, but these 11 players are ready to go right now.

 

With Alvarado actually playing for a team of Club America’s stature, there’s no real need for any other evidence of his abilities. The evidence is right there to see when he plays. The United States cannot allow Mexico to cap-tie a player like Alvarado, who is an American from Phoenix.

 

Klinsmann has fielded a wide variety of illogical and unbalanced rosters, but going with the 4-2-3-1 formation with the players proposed above is hard to heavily criticize.

 

With the defense proposed above being self-explanatory, the attacking strategy is quite obvious as well; Diskerud plays a Number 10 role (with plenty of defending), and Corona and Dempsey are free to roam all over the attack supporting Altidore, setting him up, and looking to score themselves.

 

In many ways, both Corona and Diskerud are primarily tasked with providing final balls and service for Dempsey and Altidore, which has been one of the United States’ weaknesses along with a center back to start with Brooks.

 

The other problem for the United States has been who should play left back, but Garza and Johnson have solved this problem nicely.

 

The USA XI described above is a strong and balanced selection with quality players deployed in their natural positions, and there is a strong defense without sacrificing a capable attack.

 

There are plenty of players in the American player pool that the United States needs to test out and give minutes to, but the Starting XI outlined below is a balanced and talented line-up that at least makes perfect sense.

 

What should the Starting XI be?

 

USA XI (4-2-3-1): Guzan; Yedlin, Alvarado, Brooks, Garza; Bradley, Cameron; Corona, Diskerud, Dempsey; Altidore.

 

 

USMNT: 23 For January 2015

December 29th, 2014

 

It's time to call up Benji Joya to bring on the next generation. (Photo: Chicago Fire)

Benji Joya should be incorporated into the USMNT now. (Photo: Chicago Fire)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Editor’s Note: Omissions of talented American players doesn’t mean that World Soccer Source doesn’t rate them highly or as highly as other selections. The 23 players selected are an attempt to propose a balanced 23-man roster with the right amount of players for each position, in addition to players that add a different or needed dimension to the United States Men’s National Team. 

 

23 Players for the USMNT’s January 2015 Camp

 

GOALKEEPERS (3): Clint IRWIN, Luis ROBLES, Tally HALL

 

DEFENDERS (8): Maurice EDU, Shane O’NEILL, Andrew FARRELL, Amobi OKUGO; Kofi SARKODIE, Kellyn ACOSTA, Chris KLUTE, Robbie ROGERS

– Four center backs and four outside backs

 

MIDFIELDERS (6): Michael BRADLEY, Perry KITCHEN; Benny FEILHABER, Mix DISKERUD; Dillon POWERS, Benji JOYA

-Two defensive midfielders and four two-way central midfielders with natural playmaking abilities.

 

FORWARDS (6): Clint DEMPSEY, Kelyn ROWE, José VILLARREAL, Juan AGUDELO, Gyasi ZARDES, Teal BUNBURY

-Three Number 9s plus three second strikers/wings.

 

 

USA XI (4-3-3): IRWIN; SARKODIE, EDU, O’NEILL, KLUTE; POWERS, BRADLEY, JOYA; AGUDELO, FEILHABER, DEMPSEY.

 

 

World Soccer Source

Soccer and Football News and Commentary on World Soccer, the United States Men's National Team (USMNT), Major League Soccer (MLS), World Football, and American Soccer. All articles, opinions, and commentary by Colin Reese. Twitter: @COLINREESE. Facebook: WorldSoccerSource