Despite a Gold Cup Final that did contain a lot of long balls and not a great deal of excitement, Jürgen Klinsmann likely has come closer to playing the style of proactive, one-to-two touch soccer where the attack starts from the defenders.
Without going into too many of the players who haven’t played in any friendlies with the full national team, the USMNT now is in a better position that it was before the start of the Gold Cup.
The Gold Cup displayed how Joe Benny Corona and Mix Diskerud brought a certain creative and more advanced style of passing that was somewhat missing from the United States Men’s National Team as a whole before the Gold Cup.
While certainly Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey can play creative and quick-passing soccer that is more often seen outside of the United States, there was a missing piece to a midfield that was built around Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones or Geoff Cameron playing as a defensive midfield tandem with Clint Dempsey playing as a second striker without any player to connect the three.
Joe Benny Corona and Mix Diskerud provide this missing link, and Klinsmann now realizes that Landon Donovan is too good to exclude from his rosters and line-ups.
Any discussion of a Best USMNT XI requires one to draw a distinction between who based on their participation in full national team games should be in the starting line-up and who needs to be incorporated.
The way to include the best of the proven players and the best of the newer players is to start the more proven players and use several roster spots for players who have given strong indications based on their skill level and performances at the club or youth levels that they have something to contribute to the success of the national team.
This writer wrote an article entitled, “A Better USMNT Front Six Emerges,” and that article outlined which players should start in front of the defensive back four. That article can be found by clicking here.
That article advocated for using a 4-2-3-1 formation with the Front Six being Geoff Cameron and Michael Bradley behind (from right to left) Landon Donovan, Joe Benny Corona, and Clint Dempsey with Jozy Altidore as the lone striker.
An argument could be made that Mix Diskerud should also be used at the central attacking midfielder role, and he is also a good choice to fill that role. Obviously, anyone who follows American soccer closely knows that someone like Benny Feilhaber has proved effective in this role, but based on their play in the Gold Cup, Corona and Diskerud are excellent choices to play a playmaking role in between Dempsey and Donovan and behind Altidore.
The real question is the defensive back four. Who should Jürgen Klinsmann use there? There are many indicators that at right back and left back that DeAndre Yedlin and Chris Klute are needed now, but at center back Klinsmann does have several options.
Matt Besler continues to surpass this writer’s expectations. While some of the younger MLS center backs like Shane O’Neill or Andrew Farrell (who has been used out of position at right back by the New England Revolution) might prove to be better, using Besler as the left center back is a reasonable and wise choice, particularly because he brings speed and good technical ability to the center of the defense, and he continues to use his weaker right foot more and more.
Klinsmann appears to be sold on Matt Besler, but Klinsmann also appears to be trying to decide who his center back partner should be. Remember that this is assuming that Klinsmann will only use center backs that have been playing for the national team (as opposed to some of the promising younger options), but this writer believes that Klinsmann might be a little more open to trying other outside backs, excluding DaMarcus Beasley who is performing well at left back.
Incorporating Chris Klute into the USMNT at left back will require first that Klute is selected to participate in a friendly or in a camp before World Cup qualifying, so Beasley is likely the prudent choice from Klinsmann’s perspective among the people who have actually been playing for the United States.
Read more on Chris Klute by clicking HERE.
Right Back is a different situation because Michael Parkhurst has done well there, but he doesn’t make as many attacking forays on the right side as Beasley does on the left side.
Since Parkhurst appeared to possess enough speed and quickness to do well as a right back, using Parkhurst at his natural position of center back might give Besler a faster and more technically-skilled partner than Clarence Goodson who is not quite quick enough and prone to hitting way too many 50 yard long balls just in the general vicinity of the U.S.’ striker.
Another center back option or even a right back option is Michael Orozco Fiscal who brings technical skill, speed, quickness, strong heading ability, and good defensive instincts and skills.
Looking at all of these positions, a first step for Jürgen Klinsmann and the USMNT could be to start this XI below:
Tim HOWARD; Michael OROZCO, Michael PARKHURST, Matt BESLER, DaMarcus BEASLEY; Geoff CAMERON, Michael BRADLEY, Landon DONOVAN, Joe Benny CORONA, Clint DEMPSEY; Jozy ALTIDORE.
There is another option, which some might describe as a more risky or experimental starting line-up, but it includes almost all of the same players as those above. This more adventurous Starting XI advocates using two young two-way outside backs from MLS: Chris Klute at left back and DeAndre Yedlin at right back. Below is the Starting XI that attempts to give the USMNT better defending and attacking out wide:
Tim HOWARD; DeAndre YEDLIN, Michael OROZCO, Matt BESLER, Chris KLUTE; Geoff CAMERON, Michael BRADLEY; Landon DONOVAN, Joe Benny CORONA, Clint DEMPSEY; Jozy ALTIDORE.
This second starting line-up would be the first step in using the players who have shown a real ability to perform on the international level with two outside backs who have the ability to improve the effectiveness of the United States out wide from a defensive and from an attacking standpoint.