By: COLIN REESE
The United States Men’s National Team will need the right amount of defensive midfielders and attacking midfielders in the 2014 World Cup, plus there are midfielders who are hard to classify with just one label.
The USMNT will need attacking midfielders that can play out wide and those that can play centrally, plus there are those that can play wide and centrally.
Given Jürgen Klinsmann’s 4-2-3-1 formation preference and Landon Donovan’s and Clint Dempsey’s ability to play as second strikers, the United States has the roster space for nine midfielders on its 2014 World Cup roster.
Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Maurice Edu are the three defensive midfielders that World Soccer Source backs for the USMNT’s 2014 World Cup roster, and Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Benny Feilhaber are the first three attacking midfielders that World Soccer Source backs for the World Cup roster.
After those three attacking midfielders, Joe Corona and Mix Diskerud are the other two most-skilled and most-proven attacking midfielders.
While Diskerud is strickly a central attacking midfielder, playmaker, or Number 10, Corona is an attacking midfielder that can play on either wing or as a Number 10.
The final American midfielder that this writer backs is Benji Joya of the Chicago Fire who is a complete midfielder that can play on either wing, as a box-to-box midfielder, or as a Number 10.
Joya is considered too young and too inexperienced by the American soccer media and most American soccer fans, but World Soccer Source considers him to be a very technical and aggressive player than brings a lot of fire, two-way play, and a good level of athleticism.
In short, Joya brings many technical, defensive, and athletic qualities that up the overall skill-level of the United States, which translates into better possession, more skill, and more toughness from a deeper USA national team.
The players discussed above allow for a five-man USMNT midfield comprised of Jones, Bradley, Donovan, Feilhaber, and Dempsey, and the United States can’t field a much better midfield than that one, especially if Geoff Cameron is started as a center back instead of as a defensive midfielder in place of Jones.
Looking over the entire American player pool, Jones, Bradley, Donovan, Feilhaber, and Dempsey is the midfield combination that brings technical-skill from all of its players and a combination of defensive skill with attacking prowess.
The USA national team gains nothing by not starting a playmaker like Feilhaber, Corona, or Diskerud with the two best American attacking midfielders (Dempsey and Donovan) flanking the playmaker.
Players like Feilhaber, Corona, and Diskerud are essential to a roster with the ability to maintain possession and create scoring chances, and denying this reality denies the need for better passing from the United States.
Here are World Soccer Source’s Nine Preferred USMNT Midfielders for the World Cup divided into subcategories:
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS: Michael BRADLEY (Toronto FC), Jermaine JONES (Besiktas), Maurice EDU (Philadelphia Union)
WINGS: Clint DEMPSEY (Seattle Sounders), Landon DONOVAN (LA Galaxy), Joe CORONA (Tijuana), Benji JOYA (Chicago Fire)
PLAYMAKERS: Benny FEILHABER (Sporting Kansas City), Mix DISKERUD (Rosenborg), Joe CORONA (Tijuana)
CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS AND WINGS: Joe CORONA (Tijuana), Benji JOYA (Chicago Fire)
Here are the 9 USA midfielders listed without categories:
1. Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders)
2. Landon DONOVAN (LA Galaxy)
3. Michael BRADLEY (Toronto FC)
4. Jermaine JONES (Besiktas)
5. Benny FEILHABER (Sporting Kansas City)
6. Joe CORONA (Tijuana)
7. Maurice EDU (Philadelphia Union)
8. Mix DISKERUD (Rosenborg)
9. Benji JOYA (Chicago Fire)
World Soccer Source’s Preferred USA Front Six:
Bradley; Donovan, Feilhaber, Corona; Altidore, Dempsey.