USMNT v. Trinidad & Tobago – Who should start?

After watching the defense struggle mightily against a relatively weak El Salvador front four, I think we’ll see Bob Bradley go with a more experienced and sturdy backline against the physical Trinidad side. With Trinidad boasting a strike corps that includes Kenwyne Jones, Bobby Zamora, Jason Scotland, and Cornell Glen, the US defense will have its hands full on Wednesday night.

So, who do I think should (and probably will) start tomorrow night?

Altidore   Davies

Donovan                 Dempsey

Feilhaber   Bradley

Spector                                                        Cherundolo

Bocanegra   Onyewu


With Oguchi Onyewu back from suspension and Jay DeMerit back in England, I can’t see a reason to start Chad Marshall in defense again, meaning the tried and trusted pairing of Carlos Bocanegra and Onyewu will start at the back.

Jonathan Bornstein’s abysmal performance should mean the end of his USMNT days, meaning we’ll likely see Jonathon Spector slide over to the left and Steve Cherundolo get a start on the right. While Spector isn’t the most comfortable of left backs, he’s a far, far superior option than Bornstein. Cherundolo will get picked on by T&T because of his diminutive size and lack of strength, especially if Bobby Zamora is employed on the left wing opposite of Carlos Edwards. Edwards will test Spector’s speed and agility on the left, though, giving T&T a couple of favorable matchups from the start. Spector’s savvy and Cherundolo’s skill should be enough for the US to hold their own at the back.

While there were some complaints about the play of Michael Bradley and Benny Feilhaber, I’m not buying them. Sure, the two of them showed a lack of familiarity by often attacking as a pair instead of coordinating a one-forward, one-back system, but no other midfielder in our pool has showed the vision and range of passing that Bradley and Feilhaber showed against El Salvador. I know there are some that might favor Ricardo Clark, but I don’t think we should be bunkering down in a must-win game.

The front four of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Charlie Davies, and Jozy Altidore appears to be by far and away our best attacking group. The combination of speed, skill, and athleticism is deadly, a combo that should prove useful in the tough Port of Spain environment. Without captain Denis Lawrence at the back for Trinidad, the USMNT strikers should be able to capitalize against a suspect defensive unit.

Lastly, I know there will be quite a few folks clamoring for Stuart Holden, but is anyone else worried about his penchant for turnovers? Yes, the kid can whip in crosses – everyone sees that. However, they also seem to be glossing over the fact that Holden can’t keep the ball at his feet and appears to really struggle with the pace of the game at this level.

Even though it shouldn’t happen (under any circumstance), don’t be too shocked if Bradley elects to return to his trusty forward, Brian Ching. Ching doesn’t belong at this level and shouldn’t be used, but Bradley is often hyper-conservative on the road and could very well elect to play slow, lumbering target forward instead of Altidore.


9 Responses

  1. Good write-up. I like your starters and think that is about the best that can be hoped for at this point. Benny was an improvement and helped passing/possession in the midfield. I would definately prefer to see him going forward more often with jr holding back, but disciplined play does not seem to be one of jr’s strengths. Also, with bob and sunil picking the starters, I would not be surprised to see an extra mls guy or 2 in the starting line-up. Maybe Marshall at CB with Boca at LB, and/or Rico instead of Benny, or even Ching (unfortunately), especially if Davies can’t go b/c of his calf. If that is the case (no Davies), would be interested to hear who others think should start. How about Dempsy up top with Holden playing RW? That should be an upgrade defensively, and should create more space in the middle for attacking/creating. Maybe Torres, but I have not seen enough of him to know his best spot on the pitch.

  2. You always gotta dig at Dolo but I agree with your line-up.

    The back line vs. ES was atrocious and I think Bornstein and Marshall will ultimately sit. Given Spector’s poor performance Saturday, the RB spot seems wide open to me and so in steps Dolo Wednesday. Spector’s problems/discomfort at LB still leave the US with a much better, more competent option than Bornstein.

    It does seem, however, that both Dolo and Specs will be challenged on the outside. The concerns over Dolo’s size equal those over Spector’s ability to handle speedy guys. They’ll be busy – especially since I’m sure T&T saw footage from Saturday’s game.

    I’m not in favor of changing too much else. You don’t want an entirely new team suiting up for chemistry’s sake.

  3. I do want to see Torres. I want to see him and Feilhaber on the field at the same time.

    Bob Bradley sucks.

  4. First of all if Ching starts i’m going to shoot myself. Second, although I don’t think Holden should start regularly yet, I wouldn’t mind seeing Dempsey benched for a game, even though I know Bradley doesn’t have nearly enough balls do it. Dempsey needs a wake up call, plain and simple. Just because he scored a goal doesn’t mean he had a good game. With the number of oppurtunities he could have scored 3 or 4 goals. But that’s not even what i really hate, it’s the fact that (particularly after goals) he tries to get really cute with the ball and turns it over left and right. He seems to be incredibly arrogant and doesn’t use his teammate like he should.

  5. I’ll second the call for Holden instead of Dempsey, knowing full well that BB won’t make that move — at least not yet. Dempsey is arguably the most overrated player on the national side. Each game he amasses a negative possession rating, he does little work defensively, and as a senior player who should be setting an example, his nonchalance is completely unacceptable and corrosive on team morale.

    With all of that said, he does have an inexplicable nose for the goal. So, it’s hard to question BB. But if I were coaching him, he’d get an earful for his attitude and mediocre work rate.

  6. Outside of Bornstein getting pulled and Oneywu replacing Marshall, I don’t see much of a change coming. We had a pretty solid attack when you consider that Dempsey blew about 4 chances on his own. Unless Davies can’t go, I doubt even Bradley would use Ching at this stage.

    I’ll be curious to see what subs get time. Holden is probably a given at this point but how much does Torres play? And who gets the third sub spot, since Beckerman will probably be forever barred from the field again after Saturday night?

    Regardless, I remain confident this will be three points. Outside of Edwards, Trinidad just doesn’t have anyone that should really scare the US team.

  7. Any thoughts on who USA Soccer could bring in to replace Bradley if for some reason Bradley were to be dismissed as coach?

    • Depends if the Econ Professor goes with him.

      If Gulati makes the call, it will be Preki or Sigi.

      If we get wholesale change than we should bring in someone like Beenhakker or Bilic. A proven side developer away from the political influence of USSF and MLS

  8. fcking Bornstein and Clark starting. can we just ship BB to Haiti from T&T?

    Howard; Spector, Onyewu, Bocanegra (c), Bornstein; Dempsey, Clark, Bradley, Donovan; Davies, Altidore

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