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

Who Should Make the USMNT March Roster?

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

Ventura Alvarado (Photo: MexSport)




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)





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)





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)




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)




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:




-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.




– 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.




-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.




– 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)





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)




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




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)




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




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



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



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






The Best USMNT XI (November 2014)

November 7th, 2014


Clint Dempsey (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Clint Dempsey (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)





In a previous edition of this column, World Soccer Source backed Greg Garza at left back with Fabian Johnson at the right attacker spot. Garza is a solid and exciting left back that hasn’t done anything to lose his starting spot, but the re-emergence of Charlie Davies makes Davies too good to not include in the attacking trident with Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, which moves Johnson to left back.


Davies’ form pushes Garza out of the ideal United States Men’s National Team Starting XI for World Soccer Source.


With Michael Bradley injured, the USMNT no longer has the option of starting Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Mix Diskerud as the midfield three. Now, the USMNT should start Diskerud, Cameron, and Benny Feilhaber as the three-man midfield.


Below is World Soccer Source’s Best USMNT XI for November 2014:


USMNT XI (4-3-3):


GOALKEEPER: Brad GUZAN (Aston Villa)

Even before Tim Howard decided to take time off from international play, Brad Guzan had already made his case to be the USA’s Number 1. Either way, both Howard and Guzan are world-class goalkeepers, and Guzan is the clear first-choice with Howard gone. Guzan has waited his turn, and he is the undisputed USA Number 1.


RIGHT BACK: DeAndre YEDLIN (Seattle Sounders)

DeAndre Yedlin is the best choice to start at right back because he plays the way that elite outside backs play. Fabian Johnson has an outstanding left-foot, so it makes more sense to use him as a left back than as a right back. Yedlin is also two-footed, but Yedlin at right back with Johnson at left back is the obvious choice to field modern outside backs that can compete with the best. Yedlin is known for his attacking and speed, but his defending is very underrated. Given his speed, it goes without saying that beating Yedlin for pace is very hard to do for any player in world football.


CENTER BACK: Jermaine JONES (New England Revolution)

Using Jermaine Jones at center back was a logical decision by Jürgen Klinsmann. Many clubs and national teams use defensive midfielders as center backs because these really talented defensive midfielders bring better skill on the ball than most center backs, plus they are skilled and experience defenders that are used to making tackles and winning back possession. Using Jones with Brooks is a major upgrade to using Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler in the center of the defense.


CENTER BACK: John BROOKS (Hertha Berlin)

John Brooks has shown more than enough times that he brings excellent technical ability and defending combined with impressive athleticism. It’s hard to see someone taking the left center back spot from Brooks, and there’s no reason to play anyone else there. Even Matt Besler has never shown the type of skill and defending that Brooks has displayed. There’s no comparison between Besler and Brooks.


LEFT BACK: Fabian JOHNSON (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

The resurgence and return to form of Charlie Davies has changed everything for World Soccer Source. While Greg Garza at left back with Fabian Johnson at right attacker or right winger was a great formula for success, the return of Davies means that the USA can use Charlie Davies, Jozy Altidore, and Clint Dempsey as the attacking trident. Yedlin and Johnson as the outside backs gives the USMNT two modern outside backs that bomb forward and track attackers down in the defense. Johnson performs equally well as an outside back or winger, and using him as the left back allows the USA to use its outside backs for its attacking width.



Mix Diskerud has kept his creativity, technical ability, and attacking skill and aggressiveness while tacking on strong two-way play with lots of running. Diskerud has proven to be an excellent ball-winner that covers a lot of territory both in the attack and the defense. Diskerud is allowing Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey to receive more final balls and better service, and Diskerud is connecting the midfield to the attack.



With Michael Bradley injured, the USA no longer has the option of using Bradley as a central midfielder with Geoff Cameron as a defensive midfielder. Now, the USA can use Cameron as the defensive midfielder anchoring the midfield with Mix Diskerud and Benny Feilhaber playing slightly in front of him while still providing plenty of defending and lots of running to both keep possession and win back possession. Cameron’s size, athleticism, and defending combined with his technical ability and skilled passing with both feet allows Cameron to collect the ball from the Back Four and feed the likes of Diskerud and Feilhaber and switch the point of attack. Cameron is playing as a “defensive midfielder,” but he knows how to get forward with the attack, set-up goals, and score goals.



There’s no indication that Jürgen Klinsmann will use Benny Feilhaber, but nobody doubts his experience, creativity, and technical ability. Feilhaber is arguably the best playmaker and passer in the American player pool, and he brings a type of creativity, vision, and skill that only Diskerud brings. Using Diskerud and Feilhaber in slightly more advanced roles with Cameron playing deeper is an enticing midfield trio.


RIGHT ATTACKER: Charlie DAVIES (New England Revolution)

Charlie Davies is officially back. Jozy Altidore thrived when partnered with Davies in the attack, and at that point Clint Dempsey was playing as a midfielder. Dempsey is better than Davies, but an attacking trident comprised of Davies, Altidore, and Dempsey is something Klinsmann needs to explore. Davies is not only fast, but very clean and composed on the ball. Davies can play as a second striker, outside forward, or False 9, and Davies and Dempsey floating around and behind Altidore is a legit attacking trident. Unlike the types of attacking set-ups that Klinsmann used in the 2014 World Cup, Davies, Altidore, and Dempsey is one with lots of creativity, speed, and skill. The use of Davies and Dempsey allows the USA to link-up better with Altidore even when Feilhaber and Diskerud happen to be back deeper defending and winning back possession.


STRIKER: Jozy ALTIDORE (Sunderland)

For World Soccer Source, the skill and the quality of many of the goals that Altidore has scored in recent years overshadow Altidore’s slump playing with Sunderland, which is a club that doesn’t play the kind of soccer that the USA or any other national team is looking to play. Altidore is a quality striker when given attacking support and quality service and final balls. Altidore’s most recent goal for the USA, which he took down off his chest and then cut back on the defender before slamming the ball inside the near post, was an example of how Altidore isn’t just a beast of an athlete but a technical footballer as well.


LEFT ATTACKER: Clint DEMPSEY (Seattle Sounders)

The American footballer and attacker par excellence, Clint Dempsey has probably four to five more years as the leader and best player on the USMNT. Dempsey has shown not only impressive durability but also constantly improving skill, passing, and goal-scoring ability every year, even though he is over 30. Dempsey is the most important and best player on the USMNT.





This USA XI is in theory a 4-3-3, but Cameron would be playing deeper in the midfield as a defensive midfielder with Altidore up top as the striker. Therefore, the exact tactical formation is fluid and flexible.



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