USA v. El Salvador – Who should start?

According to the USMNT blog, another central defender will likely miss the game, with Jay DeMerit being “listed as day-to-day with a mild groin strain”.

While the day-to-day part is promising, groin strains are not, meaning we’ll likely see him start on the bench in order to get him healthy for the trip to Trinidad.

That being said, who is likely to start and who do I want to see start?

This is who I want to see on the field:


Goodson       Bocanegra

Cherundolo                                                       Spector

Bradley  Feilhaber

Dempsey                                     Donovan

Davies   Altidore

No real surprises in my lineup, though I’m sure there are people that prefer the erratic Chad Marshall over the steadier Clarence Goodson. I don’t see any reason to move Spector inside to the center of defense either, especially with only Jonathan Bornstein at left back, who shouldn’t be playing at this level.

I’m sure there are some who are still fans of Clark over Feilhaber, but Feilhaber is in fantastic form of late and deserves t the start. He’s a better player than Clark and provides a laundry list of qualities that Clark does not.

I’ve seen a few different entities suggesting that it’s time for Holden to step in and start, essentially in place of Altidore. Why? Altidore was fit enough this summer to play through the Confederations Cup after seeing no run of games in the spring, but now that he’s got a few under his belt with Hull, he’s no longer fit? I don’t buy this nonsense one bit. We have to start preparing ourselves for the World Cup, where the strike tandem of Davies and Altidore will be our first choice team. Enough of the experimentation and excuses – just start the pair up top in every single game unless one of them picks up an injury. End of story.

As for Holden, I don’t buy him at all as a part of this squad. Yes, it was nice to see a winger capable of swinging in some crosses, but it also detracts from the system this squad is accustomed to running. We made our mark by using two attacking mids in behind two strikers, relying heavily on our outside backs to move up the field. Adding Holden to the mix as a true right wing will unbalance the formation, especially if it moves Dempsey into the middle to play as a second striker. Holden isn’t good enough for us to be changing around tactics and formations – give the kid a bench spot and if we need to change things around late in the game, then you can bring him on. Let’s not start tinkering with things less than 11 months from South Africa.


Unfortunately, my opinion isn’t heard and is inconsequential. As such, I’m beginning to fear we’ll see this lineup:


Marshall    Bocanegra

Cherundolo                                                Bornstein

Clark   Bradley

Holden                                       Donovan

Dempsey  Davies

Bradley loves to favor his MLS players, especially ones that he’s coached previously (Bornstein, Kljestan, etc).  He appears to be sold on Bornstein as a solution to our left back issues, and we’ll likely see the miniscule wingback get the start.

Holden is the MLS player of the moment, thanks to a few goals in the Gold Cup. It seems he has taken Kljestan’s spot as Bradley’s favored MLS pseudo-midfielder. My problem with Holden is that he has some of the same flaws that Kljestan has, chiefly his penchant for turnovers and his lack of a true position in the Bob Bradley setup. Yes, I can see his ability to swing in crosses, but let’s remember that he only shows that ability on about 1 out of every 3-4 crosses in the games and, despite this good crossing ability, still drifts too far into the middle during the run of play to be a truly effective international winger. He’s a talent and a good player, but I think the expectations and hype around Holden have far exceeded his actual level of play and production.

I’m also not buying that Dempsey should start as a striker ahead of Altidore, even though I understand that Dempsey has typically performed well in the role. Despite those good performances, Altidore is still the short-term and long-term answer to the USMNT’s striker issues of the past 4-5 years. The emergence of Charlie Davies and the apparent chemistry between the two on the field makes Jozy the logical choice up top ahead of Dempsey.


Feel free to leave me your suggestions or comments below.


7 Responses

  1. I have the same lineup except for Torres getting the start over Demps. Still think Demps either needs a wake up call, or he has been passed by in terms of position depth. He is not a winger. Glad to see someone else who rates Goodson higher than Marshall. Dont see what all the hype is about with him. I think at this point Holden does well coming off the bench late in the game. Benny should start as this is a game we need to press the issue offensively.

  2. I think we should embrace the 4-3-3: Cherundolo, Goodson, Boca, Spector in the back; Feilhaber, Torres, Donovan in the middle; Dempsey, Altidore, Davies up front.

    Maybe this lineup would eliminate our penchant for horrific passing and bunker defense. I have hated watching this team play since Bradley took over. No MLS players other than Donovan should see the field ever. Period.

    • we do not need to change formations and the only tactic change is to press the attack instead of sitting back. the time to play with tactics and formations is after we qualify. however, i would like to see an infusion of attacking talent into this lineup. the quality of the passing has nothing to do with the formation or tactics with the exception of hunkering back on defense. we really need to press this game. 3 pts is a must

  3. How long until Holden plays against a quality team and is exposed as kljestan 2.0?

    Best news I heard all week is that Conor Casey was doubtful.

  4. Can we start a petition to get you as MNT coach?

  5. I’m afraid that Ching is playing, please say no.

    Oh, and like the previous player said, NO MLS player with the exception of Donovan should be starting for the USA.

    Please hurry up Jones and Castillo (No more Bornstein and Clark).

    Also, get healthy Edu.

  6. The lineup was released a few minutes ago.


    Subs: Guzan, Cherundolo, Rogers, Beckerman, Holden, Torres, Ching

    Good lineup in my opinion. Much better than worst-case scenario.

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