Jürgen Klinsmann Has Improved as the United States Men’s National Team Coach
Jürgen Klinsmann is improving as a coach in his tactics and player selection. His rosters still have a tendency to feature two or three of his favorite players who don’t deserve a call-up, but all coaches have their favorites. With a few exceptions, the rosters contain the right amount of players for every position. No longer is there a sense that the rosters and lineups don’t have the players needed to perform well.
Chris Wondolowski stood out as a poor selection to this recent roster because the roster already had four other talented center forwards, and his spot could have gone to Sebastian Lletget of the LA Galaxy who is needed to play with Christian Pulisic in the midfield or attack. Even with Sasha Kljestan on the roster to play the playmaker role, Lletget is too creative and effective to omit. His technical ability and impact on games stand out every game for the LA Galaxy regardless of the opponent.
The defense that Klinsmann is set to use in the upcoming friendlies is once again a strong defense, but the outside back selection was once again poor. You could argue that the United States doesn’t have many good outside backs, but that would be inaccurate. Eric Lichaj is a talented and experienced right back who defends well and can go forward. Andrew Farrell of the New England Revolution is as good or better than Lichaj, and Farrell plays center back or right back equally well. At left back, Robbie Rogers and Chris Tierney are strong options, and their play in MLS over several years has been impressive enough to make the argument that they aren’t ready for international play weak. Both players are also fast enough to perform well against competition like Mexico that is often better than MLS.
Klinsmann called Paul Arriola up again, and despite limited playing time with Tijuana, Arriola is an excellent attacking player who can play wide or centrally just like Pulisic. For this writer, Lletget is impressive enough that making an argument for him again is justified. With Pulisic, Arriola, and Lletget playing, the United States would be evolving into a more technical and fluid team that was playing skill soccer and not hustle soccer.
The United States under Klinsmann is now fielding lineups where the pieces fit together, and the only major criticism is of certain player selected. There is still a sense that Klinsmann thinks the national team is all about him, and he continues to think that nobody else in the United States really knows much about soccer except for him. The players produced by the United States are so much better now that it will be hard to continue insisting that he doesn’t have the players he needs.
While Klinsmann has drastically improved his tactics and roster selection, there are still too many quality MLS players who appear to be almost ignored by Klinsmann and the U.S. Soccer Federation.
There isn’t a crisis in American soccer right now, but there is a need for change on the U.S. Men’s National Team. Major League Soccer will gradually improve over time as the percentage of more technical and athletic players increases.
As head coach of the national team, Jürgen Klinsmann has spent some four years either omitting needed players from the roster or playing players out of position, and this has resulted in dull and ineffective soccer that doesn’t look anything like aggressive or proactive play.
Too often the lineups have been lacking enough technical or creative midfielders to link up the more defensive midfielders with the attack. While the United States doesn’t have any world-class attacking midfielders, it does have attacking midfielders that can improve the team’s passing and attacking play from where it’s at now.
The constant rotation of the same players in and out of the roster has never really corrected the problem of make-shift midfields and defenses. Clint Dempsey has done as well as he can without any real help on the roster except for Michael Bradley in the midfield, but Bradley is a defensive midfielder that Klinsmann has oddly been playing as an attacking midfielder for a year now.
Without Bradley anchoring the midfield, the rest of the midfield is mostly filled with different players played out of position, whether it be Mix Diskerud or Alejandro Bedoya as a defensive midfielder or Gyasi Zardes as a wing or outside midfielder.
At the bare minimum, Klinsmann should be using his best options at the correct positions rather than always fielding at least one player out of position. Even just one player used out of position can kill the chemistry and interplay of the other 10 players.
The best professional American soccer players are going to stand out and be noticed by the media, fans, and club coaches, so as a first step the United States needs a coach that at least fields a lineup that makes sense and then makes adjustments as new or different players distinguish themselves.
Most clubs and national teams make coaching changes when they feel new ideas are needed, and this make Klinsmann’s long-tenure as head coach unusual.
As technical director of U.S. Soccer, Klinsmann has made it clear that he believes that the problem with the national team is a lack of talent in the player pool, but this opinion only explains the lack of elite-level soccer from the men’s national team and not the lack of decent collective play on the national team.
It seems unlikely that Klinsmann will make fundamental changes to how he selects players to the national team and makes lineups, and this means that the person above Klinsmann, Sunil Gulati needs to remove Klinsmann from both of his positions (technical director and head coach).
There is a talent gap between the United States Men’s National Team and the top soccer nations, and there is even a big gap between Clint Dempsey and every other outfield player except for Michael Bradley.
Klinsmann’s bizarre rosters and tactics combined with his insistence on publically trashing his players and never taking any of the blame for results mean that Klinsmann must be replaced.
Replacing Klinsmann won’t make the U.S. Men’s National Team an elite team, but it can allow a new coach to come in and field tactically-sound lineups that can be improved as better players distinguish themselves.
The U.S. Men’s National Team’s lineup needs an overhaul immediately.
It’s unlikely that Jürgen Klinsmann will admit to unjustly snubbing players from his rosters or picking misguided starting lineups, but he is certainly capable of taking corrective action without admitting to doing so.
You have to assume that an ex-player of Klinsmann’s pedigree can easily look at the American player pool and say, “I need to simplify my lineup and play a three-man midfield with a center midfielder, a defensive midfielder, and an attacking midfielder, plus I need a Front Three with outside forwards on the right and left off a center forward.”
The problem with Klinsmann is that for some reason he thinks reinventing the wheel is just what the doctor ordered for American soccer.
Klinsmann probably holds American soccer in too low esteem.
Instead of just thinking that the United States doesn’t have enough players of Clint Dempsey’s level, Klinsmann thinks that the good players are just awful. The quality players are dismissed as not as good as elite world soccer stars, so therefore they have zero value for Klinsmann. Nothing else explains the exclusion of players like Benny Feilhaber, Maurice Edu, or Eric Lichaj.
The main problem with the U.S. National Team is a lack of a logical lineup made up of players deployed in their natural positions.
The United States is way below soccer’s giants in terms of the overall technical ability of the squad, but the United States does have international class players for every position.
Let us look over a possible lineup briefly to explore just how simple it is to form a capable, cohesive group.
The defense. There is no reason that Eric Lichaj, Maurice Edu, Geoff Cameron, and Fabian Johnson cannot perform well as the American Back Four. All of those players are being deployed in a position where they have tons of experience, and all of these players are both technically and defensively up to snuff and athletically impressive.
Edu and Cameron have experience together in the center of the defense, and both Lichaj and Johnson know their responsibilities as outside backs very well.
One of the biggest problems with the American midfield is Michael Bradley being forced to play as an attacking midfielder instead of as a defensive midfielder where he is world-class.
Bradley should anchor the midfield with Benny Feilhaber playing as a center midfielder where he has been playing in MLS for several seasons. Feilhaber, known for his creativity and attacking play, is now a much more industrious player, and he and Bradley can provide plenty of defending in the midfield.
The third player I would add to the midfield is Sebastian Lletget, who has done more than enough to prove himself for international play. Lletget is an exciting and creative attacking player that is more than happy to run non-stop and defend when the United States loses possession. Lletget also has a knack for scoring goals and setting them up.
Starting Lletget, Bradley, and Feilhaber in the midfield would be an enormous upgrade for the United States.
As for an attacking trident, Ethan Finlay, Juan Agudelo, and Clint Dempsey from right to left immediately come to mind. Finlay has been excellent in MLS assisting goals and scoring them, and he has tons of speed and skill to use attacking down the wing. Finlay is versatile enough to cut inside and also switch places with Dempsey and Agudelo in a fluid attack.
Why Agudelo hasn’t been a reference point for the team’s attack since he has been back in MLS after work visa limbo in England and Europe is a mystery, especially since Agudelo is a more dangerous and effective center forward than Jozy Altidore.
An attack with these three would also be a major upgrade for the United States compared to past incarnations.
With Brad Guzan in goal, the lineup proposed above is entirely made up of skilled and athletic players deployed in their natural positions.
There is no reason that the United States cannot start a lineup similar to this in the next two friendlies before the competitive match with Mexico for the 2017 Confederations Cup spot.
It’s unclear what the reason is for Klinsmann’s refusal to form anything resembling a logical or effective lineup, and it’s unclear why Sunil Gulati has made it clear that it doesn’t matter how Klinsmann performs as coach of the National Team.
Both Gulati and Klinsmann have to know that the media and fan base are not satisfied with the direction of the National Team, and if the same type of puzzling and bizarre lineups are used against Peru and Brazil, both men will likely witness a new level of criticism and complaints.
Despite the possibility of Michael Bradley and John Anthony Brooks still being injured, Jürgen Klinsmann still has a lot of new options for the United States Men’s National Team’s October World Cup qualifiers.
A prudent decision for the future success of the USMNT is for Klinsmann to start many of the proven players who he has chosen to snub in the past, but he should fill the rest of the roster with new players that need to be given experience.
The math on this is simple; Klinsmann has 11 starting line-ups spots that he can reserve for some of the more-experienced American players who he has chosen to not use, and he has 12 roster spots for the new talents in American soccer.
The other alternative is to use the same roster outlined above but start the new players.
If Klinsmann wants to start more-proven players, then this is a topic that can be discussed with specificity.
For example, Klinsmann could start Brad Guzan in goal with Jonathan Spector at right back, Shane O’Neill and Michael Orozco at center back, and Eric Lichaj at left back.
In front of them, Klinsmann can start Geoff Cameron as a defensive midfielder with Joe Benny Corona, Benny Feilhaber, and Mix Diskerud as a line of three attacking midfielders.
Up top, Klinsmann could start Juan Agudelo (if he’s healthy) or Terrence Boyd with Aron Jóhannsson.
The line-up proposed above leaves 11 or 12 roster spots open for Klinsmann, depending on the health of Agudelo.
Starting in the defense, the obvious names are DeAndre Yedlin, Chris Klute, and Andrew Farrell.
This leaves eight or nine roster spots (depending on whether or not Agudelo is healthy) for goalkeepers, midfielders, and forwards.
If there are eight roster spots, calling up Nick Rimando and some other goalkeeper like Clint Irwin, Dan Kennedy, Sean Johnson, Luis Robles, or Tally Hall leaves six more roster spots to fill.
For the final six roster spots, Perry Kitchen as a defensive midfielder, Amobi Okugo as a center back and defensive midfielder, Benji Joya as a midfielder who plays as an attacking midfielder or as a box-to-box midfielder, José Villarreal as a forward or attacking midfielder, Joe Gyau as a winger or forward, and Freddy Adu as midfielder or forward (it’s time for Klinsmann to check in with Adu).
The roster proposed above includes three goalkeepers, four outside backs, four center backs, four forwards, five attacking midfielders, three defensive or box-to-box midfielders (plus Shane O’Neill and Geoff Cameron).
To be clear, the USMNT could start the following fairly-experienced XI below:
Starting Guzan in goal with Spector, O’Neill, Orozco, and Lichaj forming the Back Four should be a strong enough defense to win or at least they should be strong enough to win.
In front of them, Cameron as a defensive midfielder behind a line of three attacking midfielders (Corona, Feilhaber, Diskerud) should be a midfield with a strong defender and good passer patrolling the back with three creative midfielders helping the United States to maintain possession and set up goals.
Up top, Agudelo or Boyd with Jóhannsson is a potent young strike force who at the very least should cause problems for all but the very best of international defenders.
These forwards still have room to improve, but all three of them are real threats on the international level. There is no reason to think that they aren’t capable of easily scoring against CONCACAF opposition unless they simply don’t receive enough service.
Something similar to the roster and starting line-up proposed in this article combines the best of both worlds for the United States Men’s National Team: more-experienced players that Klinsmann hasn’t favored as starters with new talents who can gain experience and help to strengthen the national team.
On the other hand, if Klinsmann wanted to use mainly new and/or younger players, then he could start the following XI:
What Jürgen Klinsmann really needs to learn is whether or not he’s been using the best players and if the new talents or some of the out of favor talents can improve the ability of the USMNT to better compete or win at the highest level against better national teams.
The coach of the United States enjoys using the metaphor about tossing players into the cold water, and with the 2014 World Cup approaching next summer, it’s time to see who the best American soccer players are and prepare them for the big stage.
Jürgen Klinsmann hasn’t been using playmakers in his United States Men’s National Team starting line-ups for the most part, but he did start Mix Diskerud as a playmaker against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Rather than using true playmakers who have the unique skill-set and abilities to see openings in the defense and play killer final balls, Klinsmann has preferred to use Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan as second strikers who are tasked with the responsibility of setting up goals for strikers like Jozy Altidore.
The United States has the option of starting a playmaker in between Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan who should be allowed the freedom to roam around in the attack where they see fit, and starting a playmaker would force the opposition to contend with marking Dempsey, Donovan, and Altidore who would all be making final runs.
Recently, Mix Diskerud and Joe Benny Corona have shown how the way that they play the game and the way that they see the game is more along the lines of a playmaker than Dempsey and Donovan, who are really attacking midfielders or second strikers.
American soccer fans and the American soccer media should be mindful that despite the good winning streak under Jürgen Klinsmann, only Benny Feilhaber and to a less extent Freddy Adu have ever really proven that they can excel as playmakers against quality international competition.
Until there is a real contest between Corona, Diskerud, Feilhaber, and Adu, no one will know which American playmaker truly performs the best against international competition.
1.) Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City)
Of all the playmakers, Benny Feilhaber has been the one who has a track record of success on the international level.
There are many journalists and fans who want Feilhaber to play more like a box-to-box midfielder, but this over-emphasis on playing more defense makes little sense especially in a system with one or two defensive midfielders playing in front of four defenders.
Feilhaber should certainly apply defensive pressure on the opposition to make mistakes when they have the ball, but expecting Feilhaber to bring the same amount of defense and tackling that defensive midfielders bring is unnecessary and unreasonable.
Feilhaber’s role is to constantly make himself available as a passing option for his teammates and to facilitate the quick movement of the ball around the field, and he should be focused on doing this and looking to unlock the defense with incisive passes or final balls whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Being a playmaker requires hitting effective and quality passes as soon as the playmaker sees the opening to play the pass, and Feilhaber has been the American playmaker who has the best track record of being able to do that in World Cup games and in other big games.
2.) Freddy Adu (E.C. Bahia)
No one ever questions Freddy Adu’s talent, but he has been on the receiving end of lots of criticism for the amount of club teams that he’s played for and the lack of consistent playing time at the club level.
From the United States Men’s National Team’s perpective, Adu has always shown the ability to not only play up to the level of top competition but also to distinguish himself.
Regardless of Adu’s club history, he remains a special talent blessed with excellent vision, trickery, 1v1 abilities, passing skill, goal-scoring abilities, and great quickness.
The United States is not at the level yet where players of Adu’s individual ability who can win games with one pass, one trick, or one shot can be left off the roster.
Like it or not, the United States will have a hard time beating top national teams in the World Cup without Adu or one of the other playmakers in this article on the national team.
Freddy Adu is a controversial enigma, but if he’s physically fit to play, then his skills are needed by the USMNT.
3.) Joe Benny Corona (Tijuana)
While Benny Feilhaber and Freddy Adu were given the opportunities to show what they could do for the USMNT under Bob Bradley, Joe Benny Corona hasn’t been given the same amount of chances to show Jürgen Klinsmann how he can improve the play of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Jozy Altidore.
Corona has proven himself in the Copa Liberatores against teams like Corinthians, but Corona has only been given limited opportunities to play as a playmaker under Klinsmann.
Based on Corona’s playing-style, his ability to use both feet, his touch, and his ability to score and set up goals when deployed as a number 10, the United States would benefit from seeing what Corona can really do.
With the World Cup one year away, Klinsmann will need players like Corona if he hopes to unlock elite defenses in the World Cup, and if Klinsmann is going to totally freeze out Benny Feilhaber and Freddy Adu.
3.) Mix Diskerud (tied with Joe Benny Corona) (Rosenborg)
Mix Diskerud may be equal to, better than, or worse than Joe Benny Corona, but until Klinsmann really lets both players play more, it’s hard to decide which playmaker is better.
Certainly, Diskerud has shown that his passing, vision, and playmaking abilities are rare in the American player pool, but the way to evaluate playmakers is to play them with the best attacking players on the team and see what happens.
Both Corona and Diskerud haven’t really been started with or seen significant minutes with Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, and Altidore, and giving them these minutes will help to answer questions about who the best American playmakers are and which ones the USMNT needs.
Benny Feilhaber is the most proven playmaker of all American playmakers, and his play in MLS this season has demonstrated that there is nothing to suggest that he’s experienced any drop in skill or fitness that would somehow make him not play as well now with Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, and Altidore as he did in the past.
The most bizarre aspect of Klinsmann’s line-ups and formations is why he has refused to use a true playmaker when he is using two defensive midfielders, four defenders, and a goalkeeper. The use of a playmaker to link the defensive midfielders with the attackers and to set up goals is internationally-recognized as a key aspect of soccer tactics.
It’s unclear why a former striker of Klinsmann’s level would not place more of a premium on using true playmakers to set up the U.S.’ strikers and attacking midfielders.
If Jürgen Klinsmann doesn’t want to use Feilhaber and Adu, then he would be wise to put Corona and Diskerud on the roster and actually start one or the other on a consistent basis.
Jürgen Klinsmann announced the United States Men’s National Team roster to face Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday that is made up of proven international players, new international players, and less experienced but stand out performers from the Gold Cup.
While the group of players that Klinsmann has selected contains a good balance of defensive and attacking midfielders in addition to a talented group of strikers, the defensive selections make it harder to predict who will start.
It’s unclear which goalkeeper will start for the United States, but Klinsmann has elected to go with the best two American goalkeepers in Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, in addition to Cody Cropper, the starting goalkeeper from the U-20 ranks.
The selections at right back would appear to be Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans, Michael Orozco, and Geoff Cameron, but Parkhurst, Orozco, and Cameron are also center backs. Additionally, Cameron is a defensive midfielder who put in a commanding performance at midfield destroyer against Panama in World Cup qualifying, which allowed Michael Bradley more freedom to go forward more with the attack.
Right back is anyone’s guess. Will Klinsmann use Cameron at right back because he plays there for Stoke, or will Klinsmann elect to use Cameron at center back or at the midfield destroyer role?
Klinsmann used Evans at right back in recent World Cup qualifying games and friendlies, but Klinsmann used Parkhurst as the right back in the Gold Cup. This writer thinks that Parkhurst will receive the start at right back.
Center back is more guesswork as well. Michael Orozco showed excellent technical ability along with good athleticism and defending in the Gold Cup, so perhaps Orozco starts at center back along with Cameron. Despite Cameron’s excellent showing as the midfield destroyer where he showed that he was more willing to stay back than Jermaine Jones, the Bradley and Jones tandem as defensive midfielders of the more box-to-box variety seems to be Klinsmann’s duo of choice.
It will be interesting to see if John Anthony Brooks sees any playing time at center back against Bosnia, or perhaps Klinsmann will start him and toss him into the deep end to get him some experience with the USMNT. Playing for the United States cannot be any more pressure than playing in the Bundesliga, but Brooks is young and new to the team.
Fabian Johnson is listed as a midfielder, so perhaps Klinsmann plans to start Edgar Castillo at left back with Fabian Johnson playing as a left winger. When Castillo makes overlapping runs, then Johnson and the defensive midfielders will be there to cover for the space left by Castillo.
Turning to the Front Six, Klinsmann has a variety of choices. He can start Bradley and Jones as the two defensive midfielders, or he could possibly use Cameron as a midfield destroyer with both Jones and Bradley in front of him as box-to-box midfielders. Choosing this second option would alter the defensive back four, and it would likely mean that Fabian Johnson would be moved to left back, as there wouldn’t be space for a left wing with a diamond midfield formation containing Cameron, Bradley, Jones, and a playmaker.
On the other hand, if Bradley and Jones start as the defensive midfielders, then Klinsmann will likely use a line of three attacking midfielders in front of them. If Klinsmann does this, then perhaps the line of three attacking midfielders would be Joe Benny Corona out right, Mix Diskerud in the center, and Fabian Johnson out left.
Jozy Altidore is Klinsmann’s first-choice striker, so Altidore will likely start against Bosnia. Perhaps, another striker will start, but it seems likely that Klinsmann will use the other strikers as substitutes.
Another scenario to consider is one in which either Corona or Diskerud would start in the midfield but not both, and Eddie Johnson and Fabian Johnson would start as the two wingers, even though Eddie Johnson isn’t a winger.
Looking at all of players and positions discussed above, there are a number of possible line-ups that Klinsmann might use. Below are several options:
Making an improved 23-man USMNT roster is much easier than choosing the best Starting XI.
The primary difficulty now is not finding quality American players but rather cutting the pool down to 23 players and deciding how many new players should receive roster spots.
Any national team roster normally contains three goalkeepers, four outside backs, four center backs, 4 defensive midfielders, four attacking midfielders, and four forwards, but frequently players can play more than one position so the amount of players at each position can vary.
At goalkeeper, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are clearly the best two American goalkeepers (excluding Brad Friedel), and the only decision for Jürgen Klinsmann to make is who the the third goalkeeper should be. Maybe it should be Nick Rimando or some other goalkeeper like Clint Irwin, Dan Kennedy, Tally Hall, Sean Johnson, or Luis Robles, but perhaps Cody Cropper or some other young goalkeeper should receive the third goalkeeper spot.
When selecting center backs, a wise decision would be to have four center backs. The primary center backs to choose from for the USMNT are Geoff Cameron, George John, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orozco, Michael Parkhurst, Tim Ream, and Matt Besler. These center backs are some of the more experienced center backs that aren’t too slow for or not skilled-enough for international play.
Additionally, there are younger center backs like Shane O’Neill, Andrew Farrell, Amobi Okugo, Gale Agbossoumonde, and Caleb Stanko who are worthy of a look. Assuming John Anthony Brooks plays for the United States, which isn’t definite, he also has to be strongly considered as a front-runner for one of the four spots.
Therefore, at center back, the coaching staff of the USMNT has at least 12 players to look at without doing more extensive scouting of all of the other options.
When choosing four center backs, the final decision comes down to deciding which center backs have the defensive instincts and fundamentals combined with the technical ability and athleticism to realistically be able to compete at the international level.
Outside back is an area of some concern for the United States. Without any exploration of new players, the obvious starting point is to choose from Eric Lichaj, Jonathan Spector, Timothy Chandler, and Fabian Johnson, but then one has to strongly consider new players like Chris Klute, DeAndre Yedlin, and Andrew Farrell. Furthermore, Steve Cherundolo when healthy is still likely the best American outside back.
The United States has several quality defensive midfielders, and Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Geoff Cameron, and Maurice Edu are the first names that come to mind. There are additionally some MLS defensive midfielders like Perry Kitchen, Jared Jeffrey, and Jeremy Hall who need to be looked at.
Without even including Shane O’Neill and Caleb Stanko, who were listed above in the center back section, Jürgen Klinsmann has seven defensive midfielders to choose from for four spots.
Just looking at this list of defensive midfielders, Bradley, Jones, Cameron, and one other player are the obvious choices.
At the very least, Bradley, Jones, Cameron, and Edu are a good starting point unless Klinsmann is willing to pick one of the newer defensive midfielders instead of Edu.
Benji Joya falls in between the realm of the defensive midfielders and the attacking midfielders. Joya is somewhat more of an attacking midfielder than he is a defensive midfielder, even though he has stated that he is a holding midfielder. Joya has also stated that he can play a variety of positions. A young, complete midfielder like Joya is another name that deserves serious consideration for the USMNT because he can bring defensive coverage and excellent passing and attacking skills to the American midfield.
The decisions now are attacking decisions.
For a country that has a reputation for not having very technically-skilled players, the United States has more quality attacking midfielders than it has roster spots. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan should be obvious choices, and then the team realistically needs to select two playmakers. The obvious group of playmakers to choose from includes Benny Feilhaber, Joe Benny Corona, Mix Diskerud, and Freddy Adu.
While contending that Corona and Diskerud should be the playmakers on the roster is a logical and good decision, both Feilhaber and Adu have demonstrated their ability to perform well against strong opponents in international play.
Choosing Feilhaber should be a much easier choice than it appears to be for Klinsmann because Feilhaber has an excellent track record at the international level, and his comfort on the ball, passing ability, set piece taking, and his excellent shooting skills are quite evident.
Nevertheless, Corona and Diskerud have recently shown their ability to bring strong playmaking qualities to the United States, but of all of the playmakers, Feilhaber has the most international experience and the most proven-ability on the international level.
Additionally, the USMNT has wingers like Brek Shea and Joe Gyau in the player pool who can bring speed and skill as well attacking strength out wide.
At striker, the United States actually has more than four capable and effective strikers. The player pool includes Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez (injured), and the pool has newer strikers like Mario Rodriguez, José Villarreal, Alonso Hernandez, Gyasi Zardes, Teal Bunbury, Aron Jóhannsson, and Tony Taylor. With the exception of Villarreal, those are all first strikers including Tony Taylor, but a roster normally has four forwards who are not always just first strikers.
The goal is to close the gap with the world’s best national teams, and Jürgen Klinsmann’s roster selections always contain way too many players that are solid at the club level but lacking that next level of skill and athleticism needed to do battle with elites and magicians.
The next step for Jürgen Klinsmann should be to at least call up all of his players with the most proven-ability at the international level, and he also needs to play them together. The starting line-up of proven-players would be something like this formation below:
Tim Howard; Jonathan Spector, Michael Orozco, Maurice Edu, Fabian Johnson; Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley; Landon Donovan, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey; Jozy Altidore.
On the other hand, if the USMNT was willing to use more inexperienced players in the defense to try and improve the level of play of the United States, then perhaps this line-up below would be a good place to start:
Jürgen Klinsmann should start Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan together as outside attacking midfielders as opposed to starting one or the other as a second striker because both would be free to roam in support of Jozy Altidore.
Players like Dempsey and Donovan are hard to categorize as players who play just one position, and starting both together is the best thing that Klinsmann can do to immediately improve the USMNT’s attack.
Donovan’s and Dempsey’s positions on paper are irrelevant as long as they have more defensive midfielders like Geoff Cameron and Michael Bradley behind them along with a natural playmaker like Joe Benny Corona starting in an advanced position.
There are new players like Benji Joya who could contribute to the USMNT as a box-to-box midfielder, but starting Geoff Cameron and Michael Bradley behind a line of three attacking midfielders (Landon Donovan, Joe Benny Corona, and Clint Dempsey) is a good first step for Klinsmann to revert back to taking advantage of two talents like Dempsey and Donovan, as opposed to having Graham Zusi play out of position as an outside midfielder and/or winger.
Bob Bradley enjoyed his best success when he started a playmaker along with Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan together as the left and right midfielders. The playmaker, who was Benny Feilhaber, allowed Dempsey and Donovan to have a player with whom they could not only combine but also who could play them final balls and quality passes in the final third.
One of the best qualities about Dempsey and Donovan is that they are players who adapt to the game they’re in and they go wherever the game dictates that they go, so their actual position on paper is largely irrelevant with Bradley and Cameron or Bradley and Jones behind them, not to mention the defensive back four.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of new players in the American player pool that deserve to play some sort of role for the United States or even start, but Klinsmann should make sure that he starts both Donovan and Dempsey together in the next game and games, in order to establish some better attacking play for the United States Men’s National Team.
Klinsmann learned a lot in the Gold Cup, but the most important thing that he learned was that players like Joe Benny Corona and Mix Diskerud bring better playmaking qualities to the team than Bradley, Cameron, Jones, Dempsey, and Donovan bring.
Whoever Klinsmann decides to start in the USMNT back four, starting Donovan and Dempsey at the same time with a playmaker in between them is the first step in establishing the exact style of soccer than Klinsmann is looking for.
In the coming weeks and months, Klinsmann and the United States will need to determine which players deserve roster spots and which new players possibly deserve starting line-up spots, but certainly using some sort of playmaker from the Gold Cup along with Cameron, Bradley, Donovan, Dempsey, and Altidore is the best way to continue to improve the team.
The coaching staff of the United States should work hard to incorporate new talent into the roster and decide who else should be on the roster besides Cameron, Bradley, Jones, Donovan, Corona, Diskerud, Dempsey and Altidore, but starting a Front Six of Cameron, Bradley, Donovan, Corona, Donovan, and Altidore should be the first step toward improving the balance, skill-level, and effectiveness of the United States.
Jürgen Klinsmann should at least start with this USMNT Front Six in the following 4-2-3-1 formation:CAMERON, BRADLEY; DONOVAN, CORONA, DEMPSEY; ALTIDORE.
Guessing who Jürgen Klinsmann will select for the USMNT roster to face Bosnia-Herzegovina is impossible because there are too many factors that come into play, including his personal opinion of players and what his goals are. World Soccer Source’s guess at a possible Klinsmann USMNT roster can be found at the bottom of the page.
On the other hand, World Soccer Source would like to see a combination of the players from the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying, in addition to some new players to strengthen the United States Men’s National Team at various positions.
Below is the roster that World Soccer Source would like to see called up to face Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it contains more than 23 players:
WSS USMNT ROSTER PROPOSAL VS. BOSNIA
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim HOWARD, Brad GUZAN, Luis ROBLES.
DEFENDERS (8): Shane O’NEILL, Michael OROZCO, Gale AGBOSSOUMONDE, Andrew FARRELL; DeAndre YEDLIN, Chris KLUTE, Kofi SARKODIE, Eric LICHAJ.
FORWARDS (5): Jozy ALTIDORE, Terrence BOYD, Mario RODRIGUEZ, José VILLARREAL, Gyasi ZARDES.
*Injured- Juan AGUDELO
Based on World Cup qualifying and the 2013 Gold Cup, World Soccer Source believes this 23-man roster below is close to Jürgen Klinsmann’s first-choice team, with the exception of DeAndre Yedlin and Chris Klute who World Soccer Source believes Jürgen Klinsmann is close to calling up due to a need for outside backs:
Jürgen Klinsmann’s Likely USMNT Roster vs. Bosnia
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim HOWARD, Brad GUZAN, Nick RIMANDO.
DEFENDERS (8): Matt BESLER, Omar GONZALEZ, Michael OROZCO, Clarence GOODSON, Timothy CHANDLER, DeAndre YEDLIN, Fabian JOHNSON, Chris KLUTE.
*It’s unclear whether John Anthony Brooks will be representing the United States.
MIDFIELDERS (8): Michael BRADLEY, Jermaine JONES, Geoff CAMERON, Clint DEMPSEY, Landon DONOVAN, Mix DISKERUD, Joe Benny CORONA, Graham ZUSI.
FORWARDS (4): Jozy ALTIDORE, Terrence BOYD, Eddie JOHNSON, Aron JÓHANNSSON.
Jürgen Klinsmann has repeatedly expressed his desire to play proactive, one-to-two touch soccer where the attack starts from the back. This Starting XI aims to do just that.
DeAndre Yedlin and Chris Klute as the right back and left back bring electrifying speed and excellent technical ability on the ball. Both players look to get forward and both players have the defensive skills in addition to the speed to strengthen the USMNT’s ability to defend out wide.
Andrew Farrell is naturally a center back who has been playing as a right back. His comfort on the ball and his willingness to pass and go forward have been seen by everyone watching MLS closely, and this combination of athleticism and the ability to pass and dribble out of the final third, not to mention his keen defensive instincts and defensive fundamentals, make him a legitimate option at center back.
Farrell’s center back partner should be Shane O’Neill. O’Neill has received widespread praise for his overall skill-set and his defensive positioning and abilities. Like Farrell, O’Neill can play more than one defensive position, and Tab Ramos has praised O’Neill as the type of center back that the USMNT needs to be using.
The Front Six requires less explaining.
Geoff Cameron’s athleticism, passing, tackling, and overall technical ability are well-known, and there was a general consensus that he was more willing to hang back deeper to play the midfield destroyer role than Jermaine Jones.
Michael Bradley has developed into more of a box-to-box midfielder than in years past, and pairing Bradley with another box-to-box midfielder like Benji Joya could bring a nice balance of better attacking and playmaker abilities (Joya) and tireless running combined with strong defensive abilities and excellent passing skills (Bradley).
To be clear, while both Joya and Bradley attack and defend, Joya is better at playing final balls and setting up goals than Bradley, and Bradley is better at covering more territory to maintain ball possession than Joya.
The combination of two box-to-box midfielders who excel at different things and who both have a midfield destroyer behind them will help the United States to win the battle of the midfield.
Joe Benny Corona has proven to Klinsmann that he is a viable goal-scoring playmaker that can bring playmaking abilities that Dempsey and Donovan don’t have. Corona is a necessary and vital link between players like Bradley and players like Dempsey and Altidore.
Klinsmann’s Possible USMNT XI:
Tim HOWARD; Timothy CHANDLER, Michael OROZCO, Matt BESLER, Fabian JOHNSON; Geoff CAMERON; Michael BRADLEY, Jermaine JONES; Clint DEMPSEY; Jozy ALTIDORE, Landon DONOVAN.