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Predicting the United States lineup versus Costa Rica

Mar 22, 2013, 1:10 PM EDT

DENVER – On the subject of United States lineup tonight against Costa Rica, the big riddle to solve is the back line.

How to get the most from a cast of options that is frightenly light in international experience is the big order of the day.

It’s on Jurgen Klinsmann to get the very most from his selections – but it’s on us to perform the guesswork on what might happen in the chill (and possible wet stuff) tonight at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.

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(Standard disclaimer: A “lineup prediction” for journalists who do their homework is really more “educated guess,” but at some point it’s just that … a guess.)

(MORE: PST match preview with loads of links)

Since Klinsmann’s challenge is to get the very most from a group of defenders with 12 World Cup qualifier caps between them, I get the feeling that Geoff Cameron may slide out to right back, where he generally plays for Stoke City. Otherwise, Klinsmann is leaving one of his top defenders off the field, either Clarence Goodson or Omar Gonzalez.

Out left … it’s really anybody’s guess. Justin Morrow was OK in his national team debut two months ago against Canada. Of course, Klinsmann could play the wildcard here with Brek Shea or DaMarcus Beasley. If it is Morrow, he’ll need extra protection from whoever sets up farthest left.

Klinsmann’s options for holding midfielder are Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman is more of a pure holder than Jones, and he’s not quite as adept at penetrating passes from that spot. Jones looks like the better option for this one (while Beckerman could possibly be introduced alongside Jones to add further defensive grit Tuesday in Mexico.)

Michael Bradley usually operates slightly higher than Jones, wherever they line up.

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Gomez could play along the left rather than DaMarcus Beasley; he sometimes plays along the outside for Santos Laguna. That would serve to get Jozy Altidore on the field, too.

Dempsey seems sure to operate beneath the striker, or beneath two of them if Klinsmann prefers something that looks more like a 4-4-2.

  1. docstraw - Mar 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    didn’t Klinsmann all but giveaway the fact that Jozy was starting against CR at that pep rally thing last night? A right side of Zusi and Cameron is worrisome … too static in my view. Zusi seems miscast as a RM, especially if there isn’t anyone to overlap on that side. He can’t really create much on his own or take the ball to the end line consistently, while Cameron isn’t exactly known for his marauding runs as a fullback.

    Beasley might be better defensive cover for Morrow than if someone like Herc was positioned out there on the left. I still think having Clint at LM and Zusi at RM, with both pinching in, with two true strikers would be the way to go, but that’s like so 2009/10.

  2. brad9000 - Mar 22, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    I’d be shocked if jozy doesn’t start. But being shocked by klinsman’s lineup wouldn’t be exactly… Shocking.

  3. soccerjohn - Mar 22, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    I’m largely with docstraw here. I’d rather see Deuce at LM to start, with Beasley at left back. That’d make room for Jozy to start up top with Gomez, and Deuce can slot in for Jozy later in the game and still offer something up top.

    I tend to prefer Kjlestan to Zusi on the right. I know he’s not a true winger, but he’s looked great in possession the last times I’ve seen him for the MNT, he’d offer experience to a team that could use it, and he’s starting for a team that played CL soccer this season. I just don’t yet have much confidence in Zusi to offset those qualities.

    It’s pick-your-poison at center back. Goodman is probably steadier than Edu and less likely to draw fouls in bad places and cards. But, I think Edu has a bigger upside and I’ve read he’s in good form. I’d go with him.

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