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Fringe players would give U.S. most bite in meaningless Panama qualifier

Oct 14, 2013, 5:45 PM EDT

Brad Guzan AP

Lethargy pervaded the United States’ 2-0 win over Jamaica on Friday. With the Americans already qualified, and several seats on the plane to Brazil penciled in, the supposedly strong U.S. lineup had little motivation to find a result.

Against a better team, the first-half laziness could have been punished to the tune of one or two goals, but Jamaica didn’t have the quality to make the U.S. pay. It wouldn’t have mattered even if the Reggae Boyz won by a handful of goals; Jürgen Klinsmann’s men won’t face any repercussions for poor results until June.

The victory secured first place in the Hexagonal, making Tuesday’s match in Panama even more liable to negligence. Klinsmann sent Matt Besler, Tim Howard, Landon Donovan and Jermaine Jones back to their clubs, only bringing in Sean Johnson. In total, 19 players traveled to Panama City.

(MORE: Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones return to clubs as U.S. national team makes several roster changes)

Klinsmann would be smart to continue the trend of allowing big-role players to take a seat in favor of those on the bubble for Brazil. The only way the U.S. will match Panama’s intensity in the match would be to start players who also have a reason to play well.

Panama needs a victory to keep its World Cup dreams alive, while a good performance in a hostile environment would go a long way toward raising Kyle Beckerman, Terrence Boyd and Edgar Castillo’s stock in the U.S. boss’ mind.

(MORE: Jürgen Klinsmann says Brad Guzan has earned a U.S. start; he most certainly has)

With the players at his disposal, Klinsmann can run out almost an entirely second-string starting 11. A hungry U.S. lineup could look something like this:

Brad Guzan — Edgar Castillo, Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans — Brad Davis, Kyle Beckerman, Sacha Klještan, Alejandro Bedoya — Aron Jóhannsson, Terrence Boyd

If you were in Jürgen Klinsmann’s shoes, what would you do? Would you start the best XI possible, or would you give other players a look? What’s your lineup for Tuesday’s match? Leave us a comment and let us know.

  1. hildezero - Oct 14, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    I gotta feeling that the US is gonna lose this game. The US are the better team, but they have starters and super-subs out for this game and because they’re playing away. Panama needs to win, so they’ll probably take advantage of their crowd.

    • joeyt360 - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      The book on the US at this point is ‘punch us in the mouth early and then all-out defend.’ Worked for Costa Rica, was working for a while for Jamaica. I would have to expect Panama will try the same. I figure if we are even at 30 minutes in, we’ll get a result.

  2. dfstell - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    I want us to lose this game. Screw Mexico….They’d do it to us.

    • braxtonrob - Oct 15, 2013 at 2:10 AM

      @dfstell, You think MEXICO would lose a game (ANY game) on purpose. :| I think you need to put down the glue you’ve been enhaling.

  3. mknow406a - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    Does that mean you think Diskerud and Zusi already have tickets punched? The 2 defensive midfielders only worked because of the bite Zusi and Diskerud provided up the field after Mixx was relieved of defensive duties… and isn’t almost heresy at this point to suggest going back to a 2 DM look? Or is the implication that either Klještan or Beckerman are good enough to be more than just DMs in this pool?

  4. hildezero - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:09 AM

    Dafuq you talkin bout?!

  5. tariencole - Oct 15, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    I wouldn’t say the lineup against Jamaica was ‘strong.’ It was missing 4 1st choice players. “Stronger than expected” perhaps. But no US lineup lacking Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey is even close to an A-side.

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