Throughout the summer, every United States Men’s National Team game seemed to create more questions about what the best Starting XI was for the United States.
After beating Bosnia, thanks to a Jozy Altidore hat trick, Jürgen Klinsmann now has a center back in John Anthony Brooks who looks like he should be a starter.
Additionally, it was promising to see two athletic, tall, and technically-skilled center backs like Geoff Cameron and John Anthony Brooks playing side by side.
Each player was beaten to a header, resulting in goals, but there can be no denying that the overall quality and athleticism of the center of the American defense looked better (and the competition was very good).
On the other hand, it also looked like Cameron was needed as the midfield destroyer, as Jermaine Jones seemed unwilling to play deeper in the midfield. Jones didn’t just pick and choose his moments to go forward, but rather, he seemed to always be way too far forward.
Even though Cameron and Brooks looked like a legitimate center back pairing to face better national teams, Cameron seemed to be needed as the midfield destroyer to allow Michael Bradley to participate in the attack more.
Looking just at the center backs and the defensive midfielders, it would appear that perhaps Cameron could help the United States more by playing just in front of the defensive back four where he can help to protect the defense and be more involved in the passing of the United States’ midfielders.
If it is the case that Cameron would better serve the United States as a midfield destroyer, then Brooks will need a center back partner with Cameron’s qualities. Brooks played so well with Cameron that Brooks has to be strongly considered a starting center back for the United States.
While Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler are good center backs, they aren’t nearly as good as Brooks and Cameron, and despite Cameron’s strong performance, Cameron was subjected to some harsh criticism for being beaten to a header, which resulted in a goal from a very talented opponent.
Another lesson that came out of the victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina was a lesson that many observers noticed a long time ago: Fabian Johnson is better at attacking as a left winger than he is at defending as a left back.
It’s very possible that Chris Klute of the Colorado Rapids is a better left back than Fabian Johnson because Klute possesses more of the qualities and playing style that make a strong outside back, which include speed, strong 1v1 defending, crossing ability, tackling, and better recovery defense. Fabian Johnson might be a better soccer player, but Klute is a better defender with more of the qualities needed from an outside back.
The win over Bosnia-Herzegovina left a lot of question marks over who should start for the United States and where, and Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan weren’t even playing.
The best Front Six for the United States just might be Geoff Cameron and Michael Bradley as a line of two defensive midfielders, Landon Donovan, Joe Benny Corona, and Clint Dempsey as a line of three attacking midfielders with Jozy Altidore as the lone striker.
On the other hand, maybe it’s more important to have another center forward like Aron Jóhannsson playing alongside Altidore as opposed to having Donovan starting in the midfield.
Maybe in certain games, Donovan is less important than having a second center forward because Cameron, Bradley, Dempsey, and Corona can produce enough passing and final balls to create plenty of chances for Altidore and someone like Jóhannsson to score, not to mention the fact that Dempsey and Corona can score themselves.
This surplus of good midfielders and attacking players is a good problem to have because it allows the United States to have a lot of good starting options as well as numerous quality substitutes.
Choosing the best defensive back four is more of a problem than selecting a quality Front Six.
Despite good performances, is Brad Evans the strongest option at right back? Should Eric Lichaj, Andrew Farrell, or DeAndre Yedlin play there?
Who should partner with John Anthony Brooks at center back? Like it or not, Brooks performed better against a stronger opponent than Gonzalez or Besler ever have, and a center back like Shane O’Neill might be needed to give Brooks a center back partner who has the size, quickness, defensive skills, and technical ability to give him a capable partner who can compete against top national teams.
After seeing the friendly against Bosnia, perhaps Klinsmann needs to strongly consider using more of his younger players even in big games.
Taking everything into consideration, World Soccer Source would like to see several new and younger players in the next World Cup qualifier because they are likely better than some of Jürgen Klinsmann’s first-choice options.
World Soccer Source would like to see the following Starting XI in the next World Cup qualifier:
Tim HOWARD; Andrew FARRELL, Shane O’NEILL, John Anthony BROOKS, Chris KLUTE; Geoff CAMERON, Michael BRADLEY; Joe Benny CORONA, Clint DEMPSEY; Jozy ALTIDORE, Aron JÓHANNSSON.