By: COLIN REESE
The United States Men’s National Team roster should be based on a first and second choice option for each of the 11 spots in the 4-2-3-1 formation (plus the goalkeeper), but a well-planned World Cup roster with this formation should also have three goalkeepers and three strikers.
One of the keys to the roster proposal below is that several of the center backs double as defensive midfielders and vice versa.
Identifying the clear best players for many of the Starting XI spots is a fairly easy and straight-forward task for a national team like the United States Men’s National Team that lacks the amount of depth of first and second-tier national teams.
Hypothetically, any current USMNT roster should at the very least have Geoff Cameron and Michael Bradley as the defensive midfielders with Landon Donovan, Benny Feilhaber, and Clint Dempsey as the line of three attacking midfielders. Jozy Altidore is the clear first-choice striker.
Beyond this, Tim Howard is the clear first-choice goalkeeper with Brad Guzan as the second-choice, and DeAndre Yedlin is the only plausible starting right back with Michael Orozco being one of the two starting center backs, as Orozco is a more complete and international-caliber center back than Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler.
Below is World Soccer Source’s Preferred 23-man USA World Cup roster with explanations after the roster breakdown:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim HOWARD, Brad GUZAN, Nick RIMANDO
DEFENDERS (8): Geoff CAMERON, Michael OROZCO, John BROOKS, Shane O’NEILL, DeAndre YEDLIN, Chris KLUTE, Andrew FARRELL, Greg GARZA
MIDFIELDERS (9): Michael BRADLEY, Clint DEMPSEY, Landon DONOVAN, Benny FEILHABER, Jermaine JONES, Joe CORONA, Maurice EDU, Benji JOYA, Julian GREEN
STRIKERS (3): Jozy ALTIDORE, Aron JÓHANNSSON, Juan AGUDELO
Roster Notes and Rationale:
-The label “Strikers” and not “Forwards” is used because players like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Julian Green are forwards of the second striker variety
-Each of the Starting XI spots in the 4-2-3-1 formation has a corresponding second-choice option, which will be outlined below.
-Tim Howard is the first-choice goalkeeper with Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando as the second and third-choice goalkeepers.
-DeAndre Yedlin is the first choice right back with Andrew Farrell as the second-choice option.
-Maurice Edu and Michael Orozco are the first-choice center backs, even though Edu is listed as a midfielder.
-Chris Klute is the first-choice left back with Greg Garza as the second-choice.
-Geoff Cameron and Michael Bradley are the first-choice defensive midfielders with Jermaine Jones and Benji Joya as the second-choice duo.
-Landon Donovan is the first-choice right wing with Joe Corona as the second-choice option.
-Benny Feilhaber is the first-choice central attacking midfielder or Number 10 with Joe Corona as the second-choice option, despite also being the second-choice right wing option.
-Clint Dempsey is the first-choice left wing with Benji Joya or Julian Green as the second-choice options.
-Jozy Altidore is the first-choice striker with Juan Agudelo and Aron Jóhannsson as the second and third-choice options.
-Players like Geoff Cameron, Shane O’Neill, and Maurice Edu double as center backs and defensive midfielders with defenders like John Brooks and Shane O’Neill giving the USA roster four designated center backs.
-The roster as outline above doesn’t easily break down into two options for each position due to the overlap caused by players who play multiple positions. Nevertheless, the roster has at least two options for each spot in the 4-2-3-1 formation.
Here is World Soccer Source’s Preferred USMNT XI:
HOWARD; YEDLIN, EDU, OROZCO, KLUTE; CAMERON, BRADLEY; CORONA, FEILHABER, DEMPSEY; AGUDELO.
A More Experienced XI would be:
HOWARD; YEDLIN, EDU, OROZCO, GARZA; CAMERON, BRADLEY; DONOVAN, FEILHABER, DEMPSEY; ALTIDORE.