Following a bitter 3-2 loss to Mexico on Saturday, Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT square off with Costa Rica for a midweek friendly. Ahead of the match, we decided to take over the for U.S. gaffer—and predict tonight's Starting XI. Will Klinsmann stick with his vets, or turn to his young guns?
We offer 3 predictions below.
Howard; Shea, Ream, Spector, Yedlin; Williams; Bedoya, Nguyen, Diskerud; Wooten, Wood
Jake's Analysis: I don't think anyone who played more than 90 minutes against Mexico should feature in this game just for fitness/recovery reasons. If Bedoya is healthy, I'd like to see him play somewhere in the attacking midfield or out wide. Also, while I still really like the idea of Yedlin the super sub, he and Shea could be strong fullback options going forward (though Yedlin might not be able to go the distance since he did play over the weekend). If Bedoya is not able to go—and Yedlin doesn't start—Shea probably moves up to the left wing, leaving a backline of Ream, Michael Orozco, Ventura Alvarado and Spector going from left to right. Ream and Spector both have a lot to prove not only because they've been on the fringe, but because they are also very versatile defenders who can fill in at multiple spots on the backline.
Essentially, this is a test to see what Klinsmann has from more of his reserve and fringe players and his youngsters and whether or not Klinsmann is going to continue down the path of endless experimentation. I have no problem going with Bobby Wood and Wooten up top for the entire game as a new partnership. But I'm more interested in seeing how the midfield can work, because it was unable to link up with the forwards and conceded possession too often while trying to build out of the back against Mexico. In particular, I think Bedoya was sorely missed over the weekend, as he dealt with an illness. The lack of a true play maker in the center of the midfield (or on the bench) also put Klinsmann in a bad spot. With Danny Williams the only holding midfielder who didn't feature against Mexico, he gets the nod as well as Nguyen and Diskerud, who were recently called in.
Howard; Shea, Cameron, Alvarado, Evans; Williams; Zardes, Nguyen, Yedlin; Wood, Wooten
Jon's Analysis: No matter who Klinsmann trots out on Tuesday night against Costa Rica, the sour taste of the Mexico defeat will not vanquish. With that in mind, let's run down each positional group with an eye towards the future.
Between the pipes, Brad Guzan has performed admirably over the last several months, but we all know that Tim Howard is the best goalkeeper the U.S. Game, set, match. No questions asked.
The back four is in desperate need of some new blood, but implementing that at every position is practically suicide. Therefore, Alvardo and Shea get another starting nod to continue their respective progressions and possibly cement a starting spot ahead of World Cup qualifying. As for Evans and Cameron, they're both dependable veterans and respected servants to the U.S. They are no-nonsense defenders and get the job done.
In the middle of the park, Danny Williams needs to be the next Kyle Beckerman—simple as that. In wide positions, DeAndre Yedlin's pace is electric and Gyasi Zardes is well deserving of another start. As for the attacking reigns, place Nguyen in the saddle. He deserves the start and should replicate his MLS form.
Many would like to see Jozy Altidore start up top again, but let's give Bobby Wood more than sub minutes. He's scored some vital goals under Klinsmann and appears to be slowly becoming a complete striker.
Guzan; Shea, Cameron, Alvarado, Evans; Williams; Zardes, Nguyen, Yedlin; Wood, Altidore
Nick's Analysis: Despite the presence of Tim Howard, this is Guzan's squad. After a strong performance against Mexico, the goalkeeper deserves a chance to ride his momentum.
For the majority of Klinsmann's tenure, the U.S. have struggled to identify a strong center back pairing. Thankfully, Besler and Cameron put together a serviceable performance on Saturday, continually sniffing out a dominant Mexico attack. I'd like to see Klinsmann build on this chemistry, but both players offered 120-minute shifts on Saturday; let's keep Cameron and give Alvarado a shot to get back on track after a subpar Gold Cup showing. Shea, then, replaces Beasley's pace, with Evans, Klinsmann's model of versatility, stepping in on the right side.
In the middle of the field, old men Jones and Beckerman also played 120 against Mexico, often looking like the weakest players on the field. With neither player likely destined for Russia, it's time to see if Danny Williams can take over the deep-laying spot. Zardes, who never found the Mexico match, has looked more dangerous on the wing. I'd like to see Zardes complemented by playmaker Nguyen and firestarter Yedlin to spur on the attack.
Up top, it's time for Wood to the join the Starting XI, though I want to see how he plays alongside a veteran like Altidore. Bring Wooten off the bench; he deserves a shot to impact the match and jumpstart his US campaign.
Time: 6:30 p.m. EST
Location: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
Broadcast: ESPN, UniVision, WatchESPN
What do you think? Who should Klinsmann insert into the Starting XI? Share your 11 below.