The Quarterfinals – Who Should Start v. Panama?

We’ve got a long week ahead before the Saturday night showdown with Panama, so I hope to put up some decent articles through the week and generate some discussion to keep you guys going until then.

For now, I’ll give you what I hope to see against Panama (assuming no player is called in from the extra roster spots, and assuming Davies heads to Sochaux):

Cooper      Ching

Rogers                                        Quaranta

Cronin    Holden

Pearce                                                      Cherundolo

Marshall   Goodson

Perkins

—-

Assuming Davies leaves, it is likely Bradley will call in Conor Casey to replace him, but whether it actually happens is yet to be seen. In that case, Ching is still the best option we have, so he and Cooper man the top.

A lot of people are calling for Rico Clark to play, but I really want to see more of Sam Cronin. I thought his passing and vision against Haiti was very Makelele-esque in that he did a fantastic job of spreading the field with square balls, getting his outside backs upward into the game. Unlike Beckerman, Cronin has a good first touch and appeared to have a great sense of timing and spacing on his passes. Beckerman is the more active defender, but he also sprays his first touch wildly around the back, and we can’t afford that in the knockout stages. He’s also not near the natural passer that Cronin is (or at least appears to be).

It’s sad to me that a lot of fans are not only calling for Clark, but calling for him to play next to Beckerman. In this tournament, we just don’t need two holding players in the middle of the field. I feel like we get the most out of Stuart Holden by bringing him into the middle (he floats inside anyways when positioned on the wing), where he can use his vision more to spread the field out.

Some people seem to be a bit down on Quaranta, but he plays like a true wing and has been aggressive with the ball. He’s yet to find much success with the ball at his feet, but he strikes it well and at least plays his role well. I’d like to see him some more, if for no other reason than he’s probably one of the few with any shot at making a future WC roster.

Of course, this most probably not what will happen, as Bradley has Kljestan, Casey, Clark, Altidore, Bornstein, and Guzan available to him if he wants them.

Altidore makes some sense for a call-up, especially if Davies heads back to preseason training. However, it’s certainly likely that Altidore could be doing the same shortly for Olympiacos.

If Bradley were creative (and thought like me), he would bring in Bornstein and use him as a left-winger. I know quite a few folks are touting Rogers, but I’m not that sold on him. He’s highly one-dimensional and has never developed into anything but a straight-line runner. Bornstein, in my opinion, has always been used out of position and would make a fine left-wing. He’s got speed and his runs are usually angled toward goal, using his cut-back abilities well. He doesn’t have the pure crossing ability that Rogers does, but I think he’d be a more rounded winger.

Casey will probably get called in for depth if Davies bolts, but I can’t imagine we’d start him alongside Ching.

Kljestan is one of Bradley’s personal favorites, so it won’t shock me at all if he gets brought in for another shot (though apparently he was abysmal the other night against the Galaxy). With Holden playing well and better options available at both wing and holding mid, I’m not sure I see him being called on.

Guzan could certainly come in, as Bradley appears to be high on his talent (unlike me). Personally, I think Perkins deserves a chance to finish the tournament.

I think Clark stands a good chance at getting called in, though I wouldn’t care for it.

What do you guys think? Who should start? Who should get called in?

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4 Responses

  1. Ugh. More Casey? Why not just bring back Eddie Johnson? He’s just as bad, except at least he has speed.

    I agree with you on Sam Cronin- but only for this round. Yes, Panama’s a good team, but not as good as what we’ll likely face in the semis (Mexico, a very underrated Canada team, Costa Rica, etc). So I would like to see Rico in the semis, and maybe Bobo will call in Altidore as a compliment to Cooper or Ching (likely Ching), which would suitably replace Davies. I’d like to see Altidore and Cooper up top (remember when everyone was talking about how these guys were going to be our starters for the 2010 World Cup? And that there was no one else even close to the same level as them?), but I doubt Bradley would leave Ching out of the starting 11 again. Stupid.

  2. I can’t see any way Bradley leaves Altidore out of the lineup if he’s still with the team. Otherwise why would he have named him to the squad? In an ideal world it would be Altidore and Davies, but Ching will probably start since it seems like Davies will be headed back to Europe. I’m not sure with this squad there’s anyone better to replace Ching.

    I would suspect Beckerman plays because he started the first two games and people are giving him rave reviews for his performances. Plus Bradley used him as one of the first subs on Saturday when the team was down.

    What are the odds Bradley goes crazy and uses only a lone strike up top, especially if Altidore and Davies are gone?

    • Altidore isn’t with the team, and there’s a good likelihood that he heads to Olympiacos for the next few weeks before coming back to the states for the Mexico game Aug. 12.

      It wouldn’t shock me at all for Bradley to use Ching in a lone-forward role. He certainly likes that setup.

  3. Just no Connor Casey and Ching. At this point we no what those two bring. A 4-3-3

    Rogers Cooper Quaranta

    Bornstein Holden Cronin

    Pearce Marshall Goodson Cherundolo

    Guzan

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