A Proven and Proactive USMNT XI For Qualifying

 

Clint Dempsey saved the USMNT again by putting himself in the position to score this goal. (Photo: Daniel Petty / The Denver Post)
Clint Dempsey (8). (Photo: Daniel Petty / The Denver Post)

 

Commentary:

Jürgen Klinsmann’s starting line-ups make no sense.

The United States Men’s National Team can improve immediately if the right combination of Jürgen Klinsmann regulars are started with some newer and not so new proven players.

The recipe is simple: keep Tim Howard, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey in the starting line-up, and then add Landon Donovan, Benny Feilhaber, Juan Agudelo, and Jonathan Spector .

This gives the United States a solid goalkeeper, four capable and proven defenders, a balanced midfield that can pass, and a more creative and talented young striker in Juan Agudelo.

This line-up is not necessarily the very best option for the United States, but it is a proven and balanced one, which can greatly improve the United States’ play before a more radical overhaul is attempted.

Since Klinsmann likes to use at least two defensive midfielders, then he should start three attacking midfielders in front of them in a four-two-three-one formation.

Here is why the following players should be started:

Goalkeeper: Tim HOWARD (Everton)

The United States Men’s National Team doesn’t have a problem with its goalkeepers, and Howard continues to provide several world-class saves every friendly and World Cup qualifier that prevent the United States from losing. Howard is a proven international and English Premier League goalkeeper, and the United States would have lost a lot of World Cup qualifiers under Jürgen Klinsmann if Howard hadn’t made all the saves that he did.

 

Right Back: Jonathan SPECTOR (Birmingham City)

Many Americans easily forget how well Jonathan Spector has consistently played against even the most elite international opponents like Spain and Brazil. Using Jonathan Spector gives Jürgen Klinsmann and the United States Men’s National Team, the confidence that an experienced and proven player is being used who is also much younger than Steve Cherundolo.

 

Center Back: Omar GONZALEZ (LA Galaxy)

Omar Gonzalez has demonstrated that he has the skill and athleticism plus the obvious defensive qualities to play international soccer for the United States, and he is a big upgrade to the skill and athleticism of Carlos Bocanegra and Clarence Goodson.

Geoff Cameron is better and more athletic than Gonzalez, but Gonzalez is a very talented center back who is perhaps a safer choice than tossing some of the younger American center backs into the fire.

 

Center Back: Geoff CAMERON (Stoke City)

One of the main problems for the United States over the years has been the weakness in the center of the American defense, and Cameron strengthened this weakness when he was finally used as a center back for the United States.

Cameron brings a new level of skill, athleticism, and coolness under pressure to the center of the American defense, and he needs to be played as a center back so the United States can play up to its full potential.

Starting Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez lowers the chances of the American defense being frequently beaten.

 

Left Back: Fabian JOHNSON (Hoffenheim)

There’s not a good reason to not start Fabian Johnson at left back because he’s simply too good. While some of the back ups at outside back who Klinsmann has put on the roster are suspect, Fabian Johnson is a good starting selection.

Starting Gonzalez, Cameron, and Johnson allows for a defensive set-up that is solid and fairly well-tested, and inserting an experienced player like Jonathan Spector at right back is a safe and good choice.

 

Defensive Midfielder: Michael BRADLEY (Roma)

Contrary to what many Americans think, Bradley is a defensive midfielder. Bradley isn’t strictly a midfield destroyer who always hangs back deep to break up the passing of the opposition, but he is a defensive midfielder.

Bradley fulfills an important role: he breaks up the passing of the opposition, he provides a passing outlet for the defensive back four, he drops back deep to essentially play as a fifth defender, and he actively participates in the passing play of the United States’ midfield.

Playing at his natural position doesn’t hinder Bradley’s involvement in the game, but it allows him to be a main participant in the offensive and defensive aspects of the game.

Michael Bradley’s more defensive midfield role is equally as important as Clint Dempsey’s more attacking role.

 

Defensive Midfielder: Jermaine JONES (Schalke)

No one plays in the Bundesliga and the Champions League for a team like Schalke without world-class technical ability. The German clubs don’t let players play whose technical ability and fundamentals are a liability.

The question with Jones is whether or not the United States needs to start Michael Bradley and Jones at the same time, as there are already four defenders and a goalkeeper. Using two defensive midfielders is certainly common, and it may or may not be overly defensive depending on the other players making up the front six of the starting XI.

 

Right Attacking Midfielder: Landon DONOVAN (LA Galaxy)

While there are a number of talented attacking midfielders in the pool who Jürgen Klinsmann has basically refused to use even if he calls them up, Klinsmann does like Landon Donovan. A great first step for the improvement of the passing and quality of play of the USMNT would be to start Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and a playmaker in a line of three in front of the defensive midfield tandem of Jones and Bradley.

 

Central Attacking Midfielder: Benny FEILHABER (Sporting KC)

At this point, Klinsmann needs to accept the reality that he cannot simply continue to field starting line-ups without the personnel to produce good passing and shots on goal. Benny Feilhaber is a proven playmaker at the international level, and using one playmaker to balance defensive midfielder heavy formations is reasonable and necessary.

By choosing to start Feilhaber with Donovan, Dempsey, and Bradley, Klinsmann is using a formation which is not risky or experimental, but rather one with a proven track record of success.

 

Left Attacking Midfielder: Clint DEMPSEY (Tottenham)

It’s important that Clint Dempsey not be tasked with the role of a playmaker because Dempsey’s game is built on attacking the goal and being one of the targets for final balls as opposed to being required to play as a true playmaker, which is exactly what Klinsmann makes him do.

By starting Benny Feilhaber, Dempsey is free to roam around making runs and play off a playmaker. When Feilhaber is used as a playmaker, Dempsey has a teammate who can combine with him and play him the types of passes Dempsey is looking for.

 

Striker: Juan AGUDELO (Chivas USA)

Taking nothing away from Jozy Altidore’s goal-scoring rate this season or his improved technical skills, Juan Agudelo is a more graceful and technically-skilled striker than Jozy Altidore with the same size and athleticism.

Altidore is stronger than Agudelo, but Agudelo is a powerful and crafty striker who attacks the goal more than Altidore.

In short, Agudelo offers Altidore’s athleticism with higher marks for creativity, smoothness, aggressive play, and technical ability.

Agudelo has never had any problems playing against elite international competition, and unlike Altidore, Agudelo poses more of a scoring threat in international soccer by involving himself in the game more than Altidore .

Agudelo has more experience with the United States Men’s National Team than Terrence Boyd, so Agudelo is a safer pick if the goal is to improve the United States’ play by using experienced players who are better than some of the players currently used by Klinsmann. Nevertheless, Boyd would also bring more of a goal-scoring threat than Altidore.

 

Outlook:

If Jürgen Klinsmann fields something along the lines of the starting line-up proposed above, then the United States will see a vast improvement in the ability of the team to keep possession of the ball in all areas of the field and an improvement in its ability to attack its opponents.

This is an easy change to make that doesn’t require experimentation or using inexperienced players in vital World Cup qualifiers.

Nevertheless, it would be a mistake for Klinsmann to not allow Joe Corona, Terrence Boyd, and Freddy Adu to see more playing time for the USMNT, and many players like Joe Gyau, Perry Kitchen, Mario Rodriguez, José Villarreal, Gale Agbossoumonde, Andrew Farrell, and Chris Klute should be watched closely and tested.

 

NeyMaster: Neymar is already proven

 

Opinion:

As the net shakes and the defenders fall over, let Neymar’s critics keep talking.

Neymar’s critics accuse Neymar of being all flash, but his flash is effective at producing goals, lots of goals.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and soccer debates are unwinnable, but criticisms of Neymar that go beyond critiquing a certain element of his game or pointing out areas of improvement are invalid.

No one can accuse Neymar of not being ready for physical and elite defenders because many of the best defenders in the world are Brazilians who come out of the Brasileirão, and many of the best defensive midfielders in the world are also Brazilians who developed in Brazilian academies and in Brazilian club soccer.

There are a lot of people, particularly fans of a certain brand of overly physical tackling and long ball soccer who pretend that Neymar is unproven and all hype, but video evidence going back several years disproves these claims.

The evidence shows Neymar excelling against elite competition in Brazil and in major tournaments, and this invalidates the critics who call Neymar a diving showman who hasn’t proven himself.

One piece of so-called evidence that Neymar’s critics point out is his lack of involvement in Santos’ loss to Barcelona in the 2011 Club World Cup, but this was a game where Barcelona played three playmakers at the same time (Andrés Iniesta, Xavi, and Cesc Fàbregas) in a line of three in order to totally control possession of the ball in the midfield.

Blaming Neymar for Santos’ midfield being outplayed by the best midfield in the world hardly proves that his skill-set isn’t already proven.

All this game proved was that Barcelona planned their entire game strategy around preventing Neymar from having any touches on the ball. In a way, this is evidence of how highly Barcelona rated Neymar.

A close examination of the evolution of Neymar’s skills and playing style since around 2009 show a player who has transformed from being a supremely talented dribbler with great two-footed scoring abilities to a player who has become a deft, skilled, and willing passer who covers a lot of territory with off the ball movement.

Neymar now roams the entire field showing his work rate and his willingness to constantly stamp his imprint on the game, and he isn’t the selfish showboat he’s made out to be.

Neymar does occasionally dive in the penalty box or in other areas around the field, but at the same time, Neymar is subjected to constant fouling and reckless tackles, which require Neymar to jump and pull up his knees to avoid injury.

There is diving in soccer, and players do go down in the penalty box with minimal contact to try to win a penalty kick. This is one of the things about soccer that annoys non-soccer fans and soccer fans alike, but, to avoid injury, Neymar frequently needs to jump, pull up his knees, and then roll to break his fall.

While they are cases of Neymar diving or simulating, there is also ample video evidence of Neymar being hacked and fouled.

Neymar probably ignores the fact that many people label him a diver because he knows he has avoided so many injuries by jumping and often launching himself clear of nasty tackles.

In addition to be labeled by some as a diver, many people call Neymar a showman who is all hype and unproven on the European battleground.

Let critics say that.

They also call Mario Balotelli a head case with a bad attitude who hasn’t produced; his club and international record even at Euro 2012 say otherwise.

There seems to be some unknown motivation behind criticism of Neymar, but whatever the reasons are, Neymar would appear to be a nice person who forms strong bounds with his teammates.

Neymar never brags about his abilities or makes disparaging comments about great players to whom he is compared.

Neymar is a joy to watch because all of his trickery and magic is effective in losing defenders, getting free to make a pass, creating scoring chances, and scoring goals.

It’s very unlikely that the best soccer player in Brazil who has played against so many elite opponents from all over the world even as a teenager would flop in European soccer or not be able to adapt.

Neymar has already learned how to play against strong and physical defenders by playing against Dedé, not to mention the other Seleção defenders he faces in practice for international games.

After playing against Dedé and Thiago Silva, no defender in Europe is going to present some unseen level of physicality, strength, and defensive skill.

Critics who go as far as calling Neymar all hype and unproven because he doesn’t play in Europe, as opposed to reasonably criticizing areas of his game to improve, are just gas bags.

 

Read a detailed break down of Neymar’s game here.

 

USMNT: The Best 40 American Soccer Players (May 2013)

Follow on Twitter: @COLINREESE or @FutebolSource

Like WSS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorldSoccerSource

© Colin Reese

Freddy Adu (Source: Esporte Clube Bahia)
Freddy Adu (Source: Esporte Clube Bahia)

 

 USMNT: The Best 40 American Soccer Players (May 2013)

*This list is a counter argument to the ASN Top 100 put out by the website, American Soccer Now, on a monthly basis, except for April. The next ASN Top 100 comes out in May.

*Jürgen Klinsmann doesn’t use many of these players on the USMNT, and that has caused some less than stellar USMNT performances.

 

1. Clint DEMPSEY (Tottenham)

2. Michael BRADLEY (Roma)

3. Landon DONOVAN (LA Galaxy)

4. Freddy ADU (E.C. Bahia)

5. Benny FEILHABER (Sporting Kansas City)

 

6. Joe CORONA (Tijuana)

7. Mix DISKERUD (Rosenborg)

8. Juan AGUDELO (Chivas USA)

9. Terrence BOYD (Rapid Wien)

10. Geoff CAMERON (Stoke City)

Read more

What’s wrong with American soccer and the USMNT?

 

 

Kevin-Prince Boateng celebrates after scoring on the United States in the 2010 World Cup. (Photo: AP Photo)
Kevin-Prince Boateng celebrates after scoring on the United States in the 2010 World Cup. (Photo: AP Photo)

There is a disconnect between what the people making the roster, formation, and line-up decisions for the United States Men’s National Team say they want and what they actually do.

Even if they don’t have 11 players to start together who have the technical ability of Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Argentina, Uruguay, etc, Klinsmann and his staff can still select the most technically-skilled players at their disposal.

Klinsmann and company cannot just keep claiming that it’s a process; the process would be taking the very best technically-skilled players and improving how each of them play and how they play together.

This writer has written about these topics extensively, but Paul Gardner of Soccer America called Klinsmann out in a major publication and Andrés Cantor called Klinsmann out in an episode of The Best Soccer Show from over a year ago.

http://www.socceramerica.com/article/50972/klinsmann-the-salesman-prolongs-problem.html

http://nasn.tv/2012/andres-cantor-on-the-best-soccer-show/

Many American pundits, ex-USMNT players, and soccer writers continue to question even the attempt to play one-to-two touch soccer or use more skilled players, as opposed to criticizing Klinsmann for not even trying to do what he said he wanted to do.

They actually have a problem with even using newer and more talented players in friendlies to improve the quality of the United States Men’s National Team play because they write off the newer and better players as inexperienced and raw.

Even using Benny Feilhaber as a playmaker in a World Cup qualifier wouldn’t be the risky use of an unproven player because he’s proven at essentially the highest levels of international soccer.

Joe Corona, Terrence Boyd, Juan Agudelo, Benji Joya, and Gale Agbossoumonde all receive these “raw and inexperienced” tags from the media and many fans, never mind the fact that all of these players, except Agbossoumonde, have proven that they can perform on the international level.

Let some American pundits tell you about how set pieces are so important and how the United States Men’s National Team needs to play like Americans, but there is only one correct way to play soccer; everyone around the world knows it.

Even non-soccer fans in the United States see the Brazils, Spains, and Italys of the world working the ball around the field by stringing passes together, as they try to get into scoring positions.

Getting to the root of the problem, the primary problem with American soccer and the United States Men’s National Team is that Americans, the United States Soccer Federation, and Jürgen Klinsmann don’t place a high enough premium on technical ability, even though they claim that they do.

Any style of soccer not based on refined technical ability, movement off the ball, and the mastery of fundamentals like using both feet or playing recovery defense isn’t real soccer that will lead to wins against elite national teams.

Klinsmann can claim that he wants to implement a philosophy of a style of one-to-two touch soccer that’s proactive, but this claim cannot be taken seriously as long as a player like Kyle Beckerman is selected to be on a critical World Cup qualifying roster over Perry Kitchen.

Kitchen is faster and more technically skilled. If Klinsmann wants to play proactively then someone like Beckerman cannot be selected over Kitchen who has the skill on the ball plus the physical gifts to compete against better and faster opponents, which Beckerman cannot do.

Even Clint Dempsey is frequently unfairly made one of the scapegoats of the media and the fans for the United States Men’s National Team’s lack of offensive production and quality passing. No one comments that Dempsey has only one striker to combine with and no other attacking midfielders to help him keep possession and attack.

A great example of the continued complaints about Clint Dempsey was the wave of complaints about Dempsey being made captain of the United States.

Recently, Clint Dempsey was made captain of the United States Men’s National Team, and the American soccer media, rather than praising Dempsey, was quick to complain that Dempsey was made captain instead of Michael Bradley.

The American soccer media complained like a Greek chorus that Dempsey didn’t care about the United States Men’s National Team as much as himself and that he wasn’t a vocal leader, despite the fact that Dempsey gives 100% in every game, tries to take the game the to the U.S.’ opponents, and has no problem mixing it up and getting in the faces of opponents who other American players are intimidated by.

Despite the unfounded character attacks on Clint Dempsey, the American media actually complained that the player with the most skill and the greatest proven ability to perform against high level competition was chosen as the leader.

On the other hand, a more serious publication, The Wall Street Journal, ran an article about Clint Dempsey after the 2009 Confederations Cup Final praising Dempsey’s play and effort and proclaiming Dempsey the new leader of the USMNT.

If the American soccer media and fan base is going to call Clint Dempsey lazy and selfish while also questioning his ability to lead the team, then what will they say about other American players, and how much does the American soccer media really know?

If Americans say this stuff about Dempsey, how will they ever be convinced to pressure Jürgen Klinsmann into playing more than one player like Dempsey at the same time in order to create possession and attacking soccer?

Clint Dempsey should be applauded because he plays soccer the right way, and he learned how to play outside of U.S. Soccer’s official development system.

This was the key to Dempsey’s success: not learning to play soccer like an American but rather learning by studying Diego Maradona and playing with Latinos in Texas.

His game is based on technical ability, creativity, two-footed skill, movement off the ball, bravado, toughness, physical endurance, and mental strength.

There is only one correct way to play soccer, if you want to compete with the best in the world, and that way is skill soccer, as opposed to long ball and all crosses: the English way.

There are a lot of great American soccer minds in the United States, and there are lots of people from other countries with so much valuable expertise and wisdom to offer Americans; none of them advocates a style of play not based on one-to-two touch soccer.

One-to-two touch soccer leads to victories. Brazil, five World Cup trophies. Italy, four World Cup trophies. Germany, three World Cup trophies.

Other countries take the most talented players they can find, determine if they have the requisite athleticism to play soccer, and they hone the skills of these players.

Elite teams use the whole field, but they don’t restrict their attack to just running up and down the sidelines with the intention of always looking to play a cross.

Americans need to permanently get rid of this notion that more width and more crosses is the key to more scoring opportunities.

Brazil would never play that way. That style of soccer would never fly in Brazil, Spain, or anywhere else with a good soccer system.

Better soccer nations work the ball around and look for openings in the defense and probe for weaknesses, and if one gateway into the penalty box is closed then they work the ball around until there is an opening somewhere else or in the original place they looked.

From better national teams, you will see crosses played in the air to players who have made runs or who are making runs, but you won’t really see balls just crossed into the box blindly.

You might see balls played across the goal mouth in the attempt to sneak a pass through to a teammate in front of the goal, but you really will not see crosses crushed into the penalty box without a specific target.

Again, the root of the problem of American soccer and the United States Men’s National Team is the low premium placed on technical ability.

Before players are weeded out at a higher level because of a lack of athleticism or a lack of confidence in their abilities, players are supposed to be weeded out if they lack the technical ability to perform in say Major League Soccer or for the United States Men’s National Team.

The United States has plenty of talented and athletic players at every position with the ability to play a brand of soccer more along the lines of the world’s best national teams, but the first steps were already taken by Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley.

Bob Bradley reluctantly played Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber, Landon Donovan, and Clint Dempsey at the same time, which allowed the United States to have the requisite ability to perform against Spain and Brazil in the 2009 Confederations Cup and advance out of the group stage in the 2010 World Cup.

Jürgen Klinsmann must take the next step of fielding starting line-ups where all eleven players are technically-advanced and athletic and where the line-ups balance defensive strength with effective and inventive attacking players.

There will always be complaints about which players are used by a coach, but Klinsmann needs to at least use a reasonable balance of defensive and attacking players who all have advanced technical ability and sufficient athleticism.

It takes courage to lose because you tried to win.

 

Americans have low standards for Jürgen Klinsmann and the USMNT

 

The USMNT needs to start more technically-skilled players at the same time.
The USMNT needs to start more technically-skilled players at the same time. © MexSport

It’s hard to be in the public spotlight, and what Jürgen Klinsmann and the players on the United States Men’s National Team do is very emotionally intense.

In other countries the pressure the press puts on those involved in professional soccer on the national and international level is much more intense than in the United States, but there’s still a lot of pressure in the United States as well.

With that being said, Americans do seem to have very low standards for Jürgen Klinsmann and the United States Men’s National Team in regards to the quality of play.

There will always be mistakes made by professional athletes, and crucifying professional soccer players for mistakes is inappropriate and classless.

Americans’ standards for Jürgen Klinsmann and the United States Men’s National Team are too low because members of the American soccer media and the American fan base fail to intelligently question why attempts aren’t made to correct tactical and player selection mistakes made by Klinsmann.

Read more

23 players for the USMNT Gold Cup roster

Reasoning Behing the Roster Proposal:

Who knows which players Jürgen Klinsmann will put on the Gold Cup roster for the United States Men’s National Team?

Maybe, the roster will include some of the best players the United States has, or maybe none of the European-based players will be there.

Maybe MLS players who are vital to their teams’ success will be passed over for players from the national team youth ranks.

Will Freddy Adu be dragged up from Brazil or won’t he? Does Klinsmann even want Adu on the team for the Gold Cup?

Who knows?

Will Benny Feilhaber and Joe Corona play a bigger role in World Cup qualifying and thus be passed over for Gold Cup duty?

Who knows?

There is a gap between what Klinsmann says he will do and what he actually does. Trying to really predict what he will do is next to impossible.

Below is one person’s opinion of a 23-man roster of mostly non-European-based players with the skill and physical gifts to play high-quality, attractive, and effective soccer that leads to victories:

Goalkeepers:

Sean JOHNSON

Bill HAMID

Cody CROPPER

 

Center Backs: 

Gale AGBOSSOUMONDE

Andrew FARRELL

Caleb STANKO

George JOHN

 

Outside Backs:

Jonathan SPECTOR

Eric LICHAJ

Chris KLUTE

Kofi SARKODIE

*POSSIBLE OPTION: DeAndre Yedlin

 

Defensive and Box-to-Box Midfielders:

Perry KITCHEN

Amobi OKUGO

Dax MCCARTY

Benji JOYA

 

Attacking Midfielders 

Benny FEILHABER

Joe CORONA

Freddy ADU

Joe GYAU

 

Strikers: 

Juan AGUDELO

Terrence BOYD

Mario RODRIGUEZ

Tony TAYLOR

 

USMNT Center Backs: Start Gale Agbossoumonde and Andrew Farrell

 

Gale Agbossoumonde. (Source: Toronto F.C.)
Gale Agbossoumonde. (Source: Toronto F.C.)

 

Opinion:

With Geoff Cameron having a natural tendency to making dribbling forays out of the back, using Cameron as a right back allows the United States Men’s National Team to attack wide and defend well along the flanks.

Many of the best teams in the world put their best attacker out left, so the player can cut onto their right foot as the player attacks the goal by going at the center of the defense.

Using Cameron out right would allow the United States to have a skilled and athletic defender marking this type of attack by either forcing the player out wide toward the sideline or into the center of the defense which should be guarded by Gale Agbossoumonde and Andrew Farrell.

Read more

Changes: An updated USMNT roster proposal

 

Benny Feilhaber. (Photo: Reuters)
Benny Feilhaber. (Photo: Reuters)

 

Roughly a year ago, Jürgen Klinsmann suggested that the problem with the United States Men’s National Team was that the team needed to be “an edge more nastier” and work the referees more.

That tactic seems to have not worked.

Klinsmann once famously said “Anyone can play left back,” and if that was his attitude in a World Cup qualifier, then inexperienced players with a high-skill level deserve a shot in the upcoming friendlies with Belgium and Germany.

Since Klinsmann’s approach to coaching the United States Men’s National Team has achieved no real progress in improving the technical ability of the team, this writer would contend that essentially tossing in a large group of new players into the deep end against Belgium and Germany would at least offer the potential to see some improvement at various positions and in the overall technical ability of the team.

With other CONCACAF teams demonstrating better technical skill in World Cup qualifiers than the United States, the next two friendlies should be used to really take some roster and starting line-up risks just to see what the United States has in the talent pool. Certainly, Germany offers the chance to see new players’ skill level while factoring in nerves and inexperience.

What’s the real harm in really seeing how some totally new and promising players do when thrown into the lion’s den against Germany in an international friendly?

No matter what happens against Belgium or Germany, the United States should fare fine in World Cup qualifiers if it starts Tim Howard, Jonathan Spector, Omar Gonzalez,  Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey, Juan Agudelo, and Jozy Altidore.

As opposed to what Klinsmann suggested below, a major change in the players included on the United States Men’s National Team as discussed below would seem to be a better strategy to improve the level of play.

Change the players or up the nastiness as suggested in the video below? You decide.

 

Goalkeepers:

Tim HOWARD

Brad GUZAN

Sean JOHNSON

 

Defenders:

Geoff CAMERON

Omar GONZALEZ

George JOHN

Gale AGBOSSOUMONDE

 

Fabian JOHNSON

Jonathan SPECTOR

Andrew FARRELL

Chris KLUTE

 

Midfielders:

Michael BRADLEY

Perry KITCHEN

Benji JOYA

Dax McCARTY

 

Clint DEMPSEY

Benny FEILHABER

Joe CORONA

Freddy ADU

 

Forwards:

Juan AGUDELO

Terrence BOYD

Tony TAYLOR

Mario RODRIGUEZ

 

Possible Starting XI Formation:

Starting XI
Starting XI

 

USMNT: Benji Joya belongs on the World Cup qualifying roster

 

You can just see how some players are better than others, and this is the case with Benji Joya compared to the majority of the players in the United States’ player pool.

Benji Joya is a different type of midfielder and player than Clint Dempsey, but in the same way that this writer immediately saw Clint Dempsey’s quality, so too did this writer see the same with Joya.

Many observers and members of the media will call the belief that Joya should be on the United States Men’s National Team “too soon” or “based on a few good showings,” but this is inaccurate. Joya elected to skip college soccer in order to go pro immediately, and he quickly made his way into La Liga MX with Santos Laguna. Even right now, Joya has demonstrated the ability to play as a professional in Mexico as a teenager, and he has also shown that he has the skill and mentality to be both effective and unfazed on the international level by hostile crowds and quality competition.

For a United States Men’s National Team that needs more dynamic midfielders to move away from Jürgen Klinsmann’s overly defensive style of using of Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley at the same time, Joya is the perfect blend of two-footed technical skill, defensive grit, mental toughness, and a love of big games. Joya gives the United States Men’s National Team a true box-to-box midfielder who not only can play one-to-two touch soccer and play final balls, but who can also help to regain possession of the ball in the midfield.

Benji Joya is 19 years old, and this is not too young to play international soccer. Jürgen Klinsmann still has a lot of games in front of him in World Cup qualifying, but time is also running out. Klinsmann simply does not have the luxury to not put Joya on the team, just as he does not have the luxury of excluding Joe Corona, Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, and even Freddy Adu from his rosters.

Both Freddy Adu and Benny Feilhaber have been discussed at great length by this writer, but both are different types of players than Benji Joya. For a coach who insists on using a midfield destroyer with two box-to-box midfielders, Klinsmann can have his wish by putting Joya on the team and starting him with Bradley as box-to-box midfielders and Jermaine Jones as the midfield destroyer, who also offers advanced technical ability.

Skill is more important than experience, but Benji Joya has shown that he has both, given his club situation and the display he put on in CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup qualifying.

Jürgen Klinsmann needs to put Benji Joya on the United States Men’s National Team now.

With Benji Joya in the starting XI, the United States Men’s National Team could line-up with something like this:

USMNT XI with JOYA