January 2013: Jurgen Klinsmann’s Depth Chart

TSG goes diving again into the USMNT... something Klinsmann was very good at during his playing days...

TSG goes diving again into the USMNT… something Klinsmann was very good at during his playing days…

Wow, haven’t graphed out one of these charts in awhile.

What a difference a year makes. No, it hasn’t been that long, but a review of last year’s depth charts showed just how far in many cases–and not far in others–the USMNT has come under Klinsmann in his year and a quarter tenure.

For qualifications sake, this depth chart is an amalgamation how we expect Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff see the depth charts, interspersed with some selections from TSG. Hopefully it doesn’t make it confusing.

Doubt it. Let’s go.

THE DEFENSE

G: (1) Tim Howard, (2) Brad Guzan, (3) Nick Rimando

Peering in: Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Tally Hall

Once again, Batman & Robin between the posts for the USMNT...

Once again, Batman & Robin between the posts for the USMNT…

The skinny: For the first time since, since he was made king in 2007 there is a legitimate challenge to Tim Howard’s throne. Though that’s where the it ends…at the challenge stage, less the battle.

Howard has been somewhat pedestrian this year for Everton, while Brad Guzan is by any account the most in-form, uninjured keeper in the Premiership.

For Howard it’s been a case of maturation that seems to have bred some of his troubles.

The book on Howard is that he’s always been a fantastic keeper when facing a high volume of shots (USMNT and Everton fans know this very well), but his main foible was he was too aggressive coming off his line. Howard’s aggressive positioning has typically served him well for the States as the USMNT used to play on the counter and Howard would typically see a swarm of the opponent coming back at him.

As Howard has aged, he’s gotten a little bit more conservative about his line and that’s allowed him to make a few extra saves here and there, but it’s come at the tradeoff of Howard being even more tentative at commanding his box and coming out.

He’s allowed in a few more of “those Kuyt goals” (you know what I’m talking about) and he’s also had a little bit more difficulty on set pieces.

Guzan–who many thought was erring on the side of lunacy in re-upping with an Aston Villa club that had nary gave him a shot in the Premiership during his lengthy tenure there–is on course for most improved player in the Barclays.

He too has come up big this season in match after match–most notably and recently a stonewalling of Liverpool in early December–to see his Villains to victory at Anfield. (Let’s chalk up recent sha….lackings by Chelsea and Liverpool as 3-man-in-the-back-bonehead-move-mulligan.)

Guzan is working behind a newer, less mature but speedier backline at Villa. His leitenant ahead of him this year was thought to be veteran plodder Richard Dunne, instead it’s been young Cieran Clark who presides with fellow youngster Aussie Chris Herd–Eric Lichaj’s good friend–and Nathan Baker. All in their early 20’s.

Guzan by fan and teammate account has been the team’s MVP to date and his showing is starting to make USMNT fans confident that the royal lineage of US goalkeepers is in good stead.

And Guzan will come after Howard.

For Howard, 2014 is his World Cup. He’s the veteran and a cleat to the chest by Emile Heskey in Game 1 of World Cup 2010 ransacked him of being tip-top for the US stretch of games. Howard is the recognized leader on the pitch. He knows the competition and his veteran presence will be sorely needed to keep the defense disciplined.

Nick Rimando is the emergency keeper. Good with his feet and keeping the seat warm until Bill Hamid, Steve Clarke, Tally Hall or Sean Johnson shows they’re the real thing or until Jurgen Klinsmann gives a player like Dan Kennedy a shot.

This pairing is retired.

This pairing is retired.

Centerbacks:

LCB: (1) Carlos Bocanegra, (2*) Geoff Cameron*, (3) Matt Besler, (4) Michael Orozco-Fiscal

RCB: (1) Geoff Cameron, (2) Clarence Goodson (3) Omar Gonzalez

Peering in: Oguchi Onyewu, Maurice Edu, Seb Hines, John Anthony Brooks, Tim Ream, Austin Berry

The skinny: The US’s muddled centerback position is just like an onion. It’s full of many layers of intrigue and the more issues you peel back the more it makes you cry.

As with his predecessor Bob Bradley–who was so flummoxed in his selection process that he choose a not-fully-healed Oguchi Onyewu to start to World Cup group stage games in 2010–Jurgen Klinsmann has some serious work and contemplation to do here.

The head domino...

The head domino…

It starts with Carlos Bocanegra and the US situation would be solved if the States could turn back the clock on Bocanegra by about five years. The veteran keeps himself in shape, is aggressive in the box on both sides, and–perhaps his best, but least-cited trait–knows when to inflict a foul to disrupt tempo or send a message.

No one–no one–uses fouls as wisely as Bocanegra.

That said, as the mileage piles on, the captain’s lack of speed and challenges with the ball at his feet, in possession or clearance, has made him a near-liability. Why near? Bocanegra’s still smart enough to outfox B-level strikers, many of whom the US will face during qualifying. It’s his resume against slick moving players (Dos Santos, Ruiz) that leaves him wanting.

The parallels to Dutchman Johnny Heitinga are precise.

The US needs to replace Bocanegra; the changes and data of the global game beg that.

Where once the centerback position was dominated by more mature players who stayed at home for the entire game and owned their tuft of land and that was that, now centerbacks are tasked with a lot more as more and more teams are attempting to challenge for the ball on defense up the field and as more teams have went to pushing more players forward, 4-3-3.

Centerbacks must initiate attacks, must occasionally support the flanks–as a CDM drops deep–and have to cover more ground behind them when defending the counter–especially in Klinsmann’s desired system. It’s no wonder that the average age of a centerback at Euro 2012 was one year less than that of a central midfielder and no centerback at Euro 2012 was as old as Bocanegra will be in 2014.

Lump in that Bocanegra once impeccable record in the air is starting to creak by strikers with size–Asamoah Gyan for example–and the US is facing a situation where there most experienced and perhaps smartest player is a liability.

It doesn’t end there.

Bocanegra’s selection, or lack thereof, has a ripple effect in the back–and its likely why you see Clarence Goodson still being mercilessly trotted out.

Through some excellent camera work by ESPN during the USA-Jamaica game in Columbus back in October, Bocanegra could be seen loudly telling his backcourt mate Geoff Cameron to “Settle down, Geoff.”

Cameron is a right fullback now at Stoke City and Klinsmann should count his lucky stars that Dom Kinnear in Houston at least gave him observations of Cameron at centerback.

Head of the class now...

Head of the class now…

Cameron has been well to above average by just about any standard playing in the middle of defense for the US. His angles are mostly solid, his footwork good and his ability to turn upfield with the ball without hoofing excellent and keenly valued.

However, what Cameron lacks and what he won’t get now that he’s at rightback for Stoke is experience in the middle, specifically an education in calling his line.

It’s a big task to ask Cameron in the next year and a half to come up to that level and it’s why Tim Howard in the back–if Bocanegra is sacrificed–is so vital as well. Cameron is just not that guy. He’s your “chaseback,” your Cannavaro cliche. He’s needed for other things.

The CB who Klinsmann is looking for is the oak tree, the Oguchi Onyewu to pair with Cameron and he’s got 500 days to find it.

Clarence Goodson seems to be the first reliever these days–only he’s awful at keeping a line himself and has battles with concentration and confidence. With Goodson’s reps against better competition, it’s easy to see why Bob Bradley kept him on the bench in South Africa two years ago despite Gooch’s bad wheel.

The two best US hope for a pairing with Cameron are Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez and recent commentary by Klinsmann has his begging for Gonzalez to show himself as that player.

Looking forward to 2014?

Looking forward to 2014?

Besler is a terrific organizer and he plays the back line a little bit like Chris Paul plays point guard. He covers for his teammates, instructs them on where to go as his first order of defense while make the play himself as a secondary order.

He’s also comfortable playing on the left–unlike Goodson or Gonzalez.

Why is this important? The US typically plays a two-man game up the right or works the ball through the central midfielders to the left.

Most of the time, the US leftback–through design or ability–is tasked with remaining at home. Keeping Cameron on the right–as Bocanegra allows him to do currently–puts Cameron on his strongest foot to manage possession and ignite attacks. It’s a subtle, but still key point.

Beyond Besler, Gonzalez is the next hope for a vintage Cameron pairing, but he absolutely must improve him organizational and positioning skills to challenge. It was both a compliment and a challenge that Jurgen Klinsmann singled out his selection of Gonzalez coming into January camp. A compliment in that he needs Gonzalez’s unparalleled-in-the-pool aerial strength and line anchoring desperately. Its’ Gonzalez or bust (Goodson?).

If you’re Gonzo, your time is now. Like, right now. It’s going to take a full year if Boca is going to be replaced. So the understudy better be ready now with reps to gel. Not reps to get ready.

A return to form sees George John in the fold as could a return to form of Oguchi Onyewu who just doesn’t seem to have the same defensive prowess after his knee surgery. You just can’t count out Onyewu if he starts humming. 2014 could be his 3rd World Cup starting in Game 1 and nobody beats him in the air.

John Anthony Brooks. If you’re looking for any player to sparking out of the woodwork for World Cup 2014, it’s Brooks, alas he’s not that backline communicator either.

PREDICTION: John Anthony Brooks will get a senior team runout before September.

Fullbacks:

RB: (1) Steve Cherundolo, (*2*) Tim Chandler, (2) Michael Parkhurst,

LB: (1) Fabian Johnson, (2) Edgar Castillo, (3) Jonathan Spector

Peering in: Eric Lichaj, Justin Morrow, Alfredo Morales, Steven Beitashour

The skinny: Let’s start in leftfield.

Or leftback rather.

Let’s start with Edgar Castillo. While US fans have made Jose Torres–and by many accounts, Jose Torres has earned–the label of “Klinsmann’s pet project,” unjustifiably receiving playing time, continued reps for back-up Edgar Castillo have unearthed a mostly unflappable fullback.

Fabian Johnson

Fab!

Castillo of course is backing up Fabian Johnson who by his accord has solved the Yanks’ long painful left fullback problem though there is much work done to make the German-American World Cup competition-ready.

Johnson has looked extremely prolific when licensed with forward attack, but on defense his penchant to over-react and his general lack of fullback instincts puts the rest of the backline under duress on far too many occasions over the course of 90 minutes.

Johnson is nearly inked in for Brazil, but some coaching needs to be done to make him watertight.

At rightback is Mr. Vintage. The Mayor of Hannover. The Head Flankmaster. Steve Cherundolo.

Cherundolo is perhaps the US’s smartest player and where his star dims a bit is the speed he’s given up with age and what are–for him–customary ebbs in form.

That said, Dolo might be off–2010’s friendly against Ecuador–the Tim Ream game–comes to mind–but when the game is on the line–2010 World Cup vs. England, 2013 WCQ vs. Jamaica, Dolo is at his highest wattage.

Can he make it to one more World Cup and be a difference maker? Big question. Big question.

His back-up may be Tim Chandler who will vy for starting spots on both flanks if he stops his daisy-picking and firmly plants roots in the US. Chandler’s best asset is his defense. Going forward, the Nurnberg product has shown flashes, but only flashes.

Jonathan Spector is a current back-up while players like Justin Morrow or Steven Beitashour are lengths from the top of the depth chart, but may have some of the physical chops to compete at the international level.

Michael Parkhurst is the across the backline back-up and has proved cerebral enough to stymy top competition on the right. It’s perplexing that Eric Lichaj hasn’t been dealt into the fold, whether at fullback or even with a runout at CB. His club team Aston Villa is leaking goals like an 8th grader in juvenile detention, but Lichaj still has the big body and is a nails-for-breakfast player.

—-

Danny Boy!

Danny Boy!

THE HUB

Up the field, the complexion of the USMNT front six is actually more muddled than the back four due to player growth, opponent, injury and fit.

CDM: (1) Danny Williams, (2) Maurice Edu, (3) Kyle Beckerman

Peering in: …

The skinny: The CDM pecking order seems to be a fairly easy one to call and it can easily be summed up as, “Waiting for Danny Williams and if not, best fit.”

After suffering through pitch purgatory on the right flank, Klinsmann moved Williams centrally and has found a player who, if he develops over the next year, could very well be the perfect complement to box-to-boxers Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones.

Williams is “quick like bunny” and has a clean first touch. He switches the ball more quickly than any other US option. Where he lacks is his reading of the game and occasional erraticism when faced with on-ball pressure. (Don’t we all?)

At times you’ll see the best of Williams–when US pressure against Jamaica gave Williams acres of space and flankers scooting forward to receive passess–or the worst–when a late Fall friendly in Russia saw a lack of patience with Williams and some poor reads. Williams, though, does have a good international ceiling for the role.

And probably the most important thing: Just about every way you cut it Williams is the perfect Tubbs to Bradley’s Crockett. Williams is young; Bradley seasoned. Williams doesn’t need the ball to be effective; Bradley drops deep often to control the tempo. Bradley has gotten more conservative in his positioning and tackling as he’s aged; Williams superior speed allows his to snuff out counters like free safety picking off Mark Sanchez quarterbacks.

Edu...versatility and....?

Edu…versatility and….?

Maurice Edu–currently and continually–serves as a good complement to the maturing Williams.

Isn’t it funny that it seems Edu seems to be settling into the same role he occupied at World Cup 2010 while Williams–a near spitting image of Ricardo Clark in terms of attributes and superior across them–seems to be moving into the starting nod. (Pause: For those that thought Ricardo Clark never had the goods watch this absolutely precise pass to Landon Donovan to start what we here at TSG call “The Counterattack heard around the world”)

Edu is currently lacking for club playing time and has looked sloppy on the ball in his recent US tests. He’ll come around, but it appears–with his inability to crack the first-18 at Stoke City–that the cap on his potential is being abutted against…harshly.

Kyle Beckerman is a worthy number three on the depth chart. Able to slot in any match in a pinch, the Real Salt Lake captain just does not possess the international speed necessary to play the game at the highest level on a consistent basis. He’s not far from it–a reminder to take a look at the France friendly from earlier this year where Beckerman held his own–but he’s not getting any younger either.

There are those who say a player like DC United Perry Kitchen, who stood out in his first year in MLS, is deserving of a call-up to the senior national team stage. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kitchen may have potential, but as a player like Danny Williams shows, the maturation to understand the different formations, tactics and movement at international speed takes time.

In fact as the game itself has changed to fullbacks making runs, the central midfielders–more in groups of three these days–get older–average age older than the CBs at Euro 2012–and do less running, serving more as a fulcrum than as the overal engine.

Central midfield

CM1/CM2: (1) Michael Bradley, (2) Jermaine Jones, (3) Maurice Edu, (4) Graham Zusi*, (5) Sacha Kljestan

(Note: The CM2 role oscillates with the RM/FW role or the CAM role if Dempsey is not there.)

Peering in: Stu Holden, Benny Feilhaber, Alejandro Bedoya

The skinny: Jurgen Klinsmann’s central midfield planning is no secret either and rather simple to figure out.

And US fans can thank or lament one Michael Ballack.

It was Ballack with Joachim Low at his hip who prodded Klinsmann to depart his diamond midfield heading into World Cup 2006 when Klinsmann skippered the Germans.

Jones ... clean-up on Aisle N!

Jones … clean-up on Aisle N!

Ballack–dropped from the top of that diamond–was given more box-to-box duties coupling with CDM Torsten Frings and the nascent Bastian Schweinsteiger who’s powerful right foot in-cutting from the left and precise passing served to make the triumvirate the backbone of the attack and rock steady in defense.

The change also thrust the flanks open as the opponents drew in to cover the trio and Phillip Lahm define the phrase “marauding fullback” on the left. (Note, the change to three effectively central midfields bore out a challenge that Klinsmann didn’t solve then and appears to be faltering in solving now. Hold that thought.)

In Klinsmann’s system and for his team’s stability, it is imperative that as few players as possible inhabit as many reps in the middle to build consistency. The US essentially has five men in the middle (looking back to our CDM section as well): Bradley, Jones, Williams, Zusi & Edu.

If any of those three are there, the only reason they are not starting is that someone else from the group is ahead of them in the pecking order.

Michael Bradley of course leads the team sheet. His presence allows quite a bit of flexibility as Bradley can be tasked with dropping deep when the team is under duress or pushing forward–where he continues to improve–when the team is searching for a goal. The last thing an opponent wants to see these days is a trailing Bradley with a clean look at goal and the ball coming somewhere near his right peg.

Jermaine Jones, manufacturer of yellow cards, is next up and has become a controversial figure in the US fans’ eyes. Once lauded as the potential midfield savior for World Cup 2010, Jones’s age, penchant to rack up silly-to-the-point-of-embarrassing fouls, and his inability to connect passes upfield with consistencies, Jones has drawn quite a bit of ire recently.

If Jones could drop the fouls from his routine and make a simpler pass here and there, he’d arguably get the benefit of the doubt. Even without solving his transgressions, no player brings the resume and “hard tackling” that Jones does.

He’s “felt” in the middle and until a player like Sacha Kljestan gets a nasty streak, until Maurice Edu gets some club time and some consistency, or a player like Alfredo Morales possibly blossoms, Jones is your guy. Jones might play some ugly ball, but he brings the lumber.

Zusi ... go from the first cap...

Zusi … go from the first cap…

Beyond Jones, Graham Zusi has made his presence felt by toggling effectively between the #7 role and the tucked-in RFW role that’s generally inhabited by Landon Donovan.

Zusi needs to add some bite to his game, but his decision making has been impeccable when in possession of the ball. It appears that Zusi will likely be used as that retrenched RW of the first “3” meaning that…

Sacha Kljestan and Benny Feilhaber might be closer to the midfield mix with Donovan’s waffling.

Stu Holden still needs to get on the field before he should even enter conversations for a camp (see: Davies, Charlie; O’Brien, John or Onyewu, Oguchi before commenting here) while Dax McCarty hasn’t been given a sniff by Klinsmann but it says here he’s earned one, multiple times over.

A Klinsmann whiteboard/paper

A Klinsmann whiteboard/paper from a late 2011 friendly

THE ATTACK

(Note: Since Klinsmann typically favors an unbalanced formation with the “swing player” high up on the left (Brek Shea, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez) we will break down this section as follows:

» One FW who typically plays RM

» One FW who typically as a CAM–we will label it CAM, and

» One FW who oscillates between a LM and a STR2.

» STR1 will be the target and pivot forward

[This represents 12 positional locations though Klinsmann will sometimes drop a CM and move the CAM back]

[Any dialogue in the commentary claiming that this person isn't a LB, but a second striker will be verbally tarred-and-feathered. Carry on.]

Gatt-attack-tack!

Gatt-attack-tack!

FW/RM: (1) Graham Zusi, (2) Landon Donovan, (3) Josh Gatt

Peering in: Alejandro Bedoya

The skinny: Can’t not start with Donovan here.

Klinsmann–see this year’s Brazil friendly–wants to task the uncommitted Donovan as the difference-maker but the Californian seems ill-suited for the job this late in his career. Landon might have crushed versus Scotland in June, but he wilted against quality competition, the aforementioned Brazil and Guatemala on the road.

There’s also a little thing about desire with Donovan. And it says here that if Donovan doesn’t get the same dominator role that he’s gotten previously, he’ll posture some more or fully lose that remaining will. Just this past week Klinsmann’s words on Donovan seemed to suggest the player wouldn’t be there for the beginning of the Hex.

Right now, for all intents and purposes, Donovan is second on the depth chart.

Graham Zusi is the up-and-comer and we’ll toot our own horn as it was last Janaury camp that nearly every mediahead gave him poor marks for his first USMNT Cupcake runout. TSG did not. We countered with this comment after the January game vs. Venezuela when he played for the USMNT “B” team:

Differing opinions on Graham Zusi, but the Sporting KC man was adept at one thing. Two-touching and moving the ball quickly. Zusi’s rate of play was good. Many will say he missed passes tonight, but the opinion here is that he was proactive and making passes where his more reactive teammates *should have been. 

Well, the thought has proven itself out Zusi is showing a great ability to play within himself and be a Joe Dumars (or maybe OJ Mayo if you will) so to speak on the pitch, driving to the hole when called or flipping in a cross when space is granted.

Josh Gatt is the frisky frosh of the group and he’s oozing with potential. Word on the street is that Gatt went into Russian friendly with a serious amount of bravado and confidence, but also a respect that resonated with his teammates.

...

CAM/CM2: (1) Clint Dempsey, (2) Mix Diskerud, (3) Joe Corona

Peering in: Benny Feilhaber, Chris Pontius, Sebastian Lletget, Michael Farfan

The skinny: Clint Dempsey is the undisputed focal point of the attack, but he almost seem ill-suited to this tresquartista role that Klinsmann keeps trying to jam him in. Dempsey is best choosing his spots to come back and help possession, but then getting the ball off a corner–not out wide–and attacking the net.

There’s a carriage need with the CAM role that Klinsmann and Vasquez has developed and it seems Dempsey can’t balance that with his will and role to score. When Deuce comes back to help possession, he typically always comes back during a game, leaving a void up top.

Either way, if the supporting cast can solidify around Dempsey, the Texan will make it work.

The battle for the back-up role is a competitive one and hazy like a coffee shop near AZ Alkmaar.

Mix Diskerud has proven silky on the ball when he’s been brought in to the USMNT fold. He’s still an average defender and he–like the entire MLS contingent–needs better competition on a daily basis.

Joe Corona seems to on the verge of making his first leap. The beginning of 2013 will tell.

Feilhaber has his lifeline in this year’s January camp. Chris Pontius needs to show he can be fit while Sebastian Lletget is close to being a squad player at West Ham (unless Zusi usurps him.) Michael Farfan is a true wild card, but deserves a look.

LM/STR2: (1) Eddie Johnson, (2) Jose Torres, (3) Brek Shea 

Peering in: Joe Gyau

Get in the game!

Get in the game!

The skinny: The most flexible position on the field has also seen the most diverse skillsets come through and perhaps the “best stories” of 2011-2012. Brek Shea manned the flank early and in many ways is the ideal winger for Klinsmann’s unbalanced formation. Shea can come back in possession to help linking, he can get on the end of crosses by Cherundolo (a skillset he needs to improve on though) and he can also take his man one-vs-one.

Jose Torres was hidden here to compensate for his continued struggles in one-on-one duels. The move–through it compromised the width of the flank–had and has some merit as it allows Fabian Johnson to overlap and provides Torres as a linking option. Alas, Torres was more than too tentative in checking back and helping the attack.

The aforementioned Fabian Johnson got a run out while Joe Corona has deputized late game.

And of course there was probably the best narrative of 2012 Eddie Johnson. It says here though that Johnson should get a runout at the tip of the spear–the striker role–because of his ability to hold up the ball and run off it.

(Note: Jay DeMerit calls Eddie Johnson one of his toughest covers of all-time.)

Johnson grabbed the advanced winger role for the past two USMNT WCQs and while his meandering inland into Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley was poor–more because it is and way poorly designed–his true forward play was pristine. Johnson made the smart play, he took people on using his physical strength and he was dangerous in the box.

The correct fit for the role is Brek Shea if he can get his game together in 2012, improve in his speed of play and be aggressive for ninety minutes. If not EJ’s the fallback, but US fans should really be hoping to see Dempsey’s brother from another up top.

STR1: (1) Herculez Gomez, (2) Jozy Altidore, (3) Alan Gordon, (4) Juan Agudelo, (5) Terrence Boyd

Peering in: Will Bruin, Edson Buddle

The skinny: The striker position, since Brian McBride ceremoniously bowed out of the target role has been typically defined as Jozy Altidore and everyone else over the past four years. Eddie Johnson was red-hot in CONCACAF in 2007 while Charlie Davies paired with Altidore in 2009 to provide Bob Bradley’s ideal combo only for some poor judgement by Davies to do it in.

Herc sets the tone up top...

Herc sets the tone up top…

For Klinsmann’s team, the striker has to do three things in his system to be effective and none of them are scoring. Klinsmann’s top needs to hold the ball, continually move off the ball and play defense.

It’s the latter two that Altidore through fitness and desire has been challenged in while Herculez Gomez has does all three but struggles mightily in the hold-up component. Terrence Boyd does the hold-up and defense well, but needs more seasoning on the runs while Juan Agudelo is probably the ideal Klinsmann forward–in fact Agudelo’s passing overall for the national team has been tremendous in his tenure–although he’s rarely been healthy.

What’s interesting is that both Klinsmann and Bob Bradley think similarly about the striker role in terms of game management, just with different tactics. Jurgen Klinsmann wants to pound in to a hold-up guy. When that hold-up guy gets tired, he brings in another hold-up guy (Edson Buddle, Alan Gordon) to pound some more. Again, not a scoring focus.

Bob Bradley used to wear down the backline too, but he did it with speed. He’d put a Charlie Davies or Robbie Findley up top–once that player had run his mark ragged–he’d sacrifice the forward for a midfielder–typically Benny Feilhaber–and push and defend further up the field bringing more pressure on a tired backline.

Best guess at the 2014 roster given the observations of Klinsmann’s tenure:

(3) GOALIE: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson

(7) DEFENSE: Geoff Cameron, Steve Cherundolo, Fabian Johnson, Carlos Bocanegra, Tim Chandler, Michael Parkhurst, Omar Gonzalez

(5) HUB: Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, Maurice Edu, Graham Zusi

(6) MF/AM/W: Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Josh Gatt, Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud

(2) STR: Herculez Gomez, Jozy Altidore

Final battle: Omar Gonzalez over John Anthony Brooks and Matt Besler

Final battle: Mix Diskerud over Sacha Kljestan, Benny Feilhaber and Joe Corona

Wild card: Stu Holden

Crazy prediction (1): Jozy Altidore is beat out by Alan Gordon or Terrence Boyd for a spot up top as Eddie Johnson moves into the target striker role fulltime and makes Altidore less relevant.

Crazy prediction (2): Josh Gatt will start in the first group game for the US.

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84 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kay20 on 2013/01/08 at 1:52 AM

    Clint Dempsey – still not a CAM. I hate sticking him there, and Jurgen persists in sticking him there. He is a withdrawn forward.

    Reply

    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2013/01/08 at 6:12 AM

      The difference is somewhat semantics. What is the difference between a withdrawn striker in a 4-4-1-1 and a CAM in a 4-2-3-1 (which is what Dempsey is currently playing with Spurs)?

      Reply

      • The difference is one of orientation. The CAM is as much a lateral player as a north south player. Think Tab Ramos. The withdrawn forward is looking to feed the striker or work off the striker, but Isn’t terribly interested in the wingers.

        Reply

      • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/01/08 at 2:17 PM

        I think the difference is in how you build a 4-2-3-1. Starting in a 4-4-2 then withdraw a forward, let wide midfield press high. Starting in a 4-3-3 wide forwards drop deeper and one midfielder advances to CAM. I think this is a change you are seeing with Klinsmann over 2012. Switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 base. Clint is more Withdrawn forward than CAM. I further see klinsmann trying to make something a bit different than even a 4-2-3-1. I see a 4-1-3-2. Below is a starting lineup I would like to see (mostly in the front 6, less in the backline)

        —————-EJ——-Dempsey————
        —–FJ———–Bradley————Zusi—-
        ——————-Williams———————
        Castillo–Cameron–Parkhurst–Chandler

        Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/08 at 7:36 AM

      All different range of things. Best example I can use is Deuce at Spurs/Wayne Rooney at MUFC are withdrawn strikers (the appropriate role for Duece imho). They are tasked with dropping deeper to get the ball but then attacking goal. They are looking to shot and if they draw a defender they dish…. a la PG like Russell Westbrook.

      A CAM is looking to be the final link/carriage from the midfield. They sit a little deeper and they’re categorically looking to make the pass to open the next opportunity. They are one more step removed. Think Chris Paul instead of Westbrook.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/01/08 at 9:14 AM

        If by CAM you’re talking about a traditional 4-4-2, and the offensive midfielder in the middle band of four I would agree with you 100%. But their defensive responsibilty might be different. Usually, you’d put your 10 on the opponent’s DLP for example. A CAM would be muchuch deeper.

        But surely Bernie’s comment relates to the same set up but depending on whether you’re in possession of the ball or not?

        The ‘second’ striker uses clever movement to attempt to unsettle the opponent’s organisation, right? Somebody who can drop in the hole (play between the lines), link play and create space by dragging CBs into areas so others can expose – although you’d want your first striker to do this as well..

        Reply

      • Posted by Alex on 2013/01/08 at 1:58 PM

        You have the best basketball references

        Reply

    • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/01/08 at 9:45 PM

      Let’s all hope Holden can return to 90% of what he was at Bolton before the career crushing tackle by Mr. Johnny Evans.
      We need that box to box engine he had become.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/08 at 9:50 PM

        To be honest, I don’t know where Holden starts incredulously enough. Even if he is 95% or whatever of what he was before.

        You’re not going to risk/task Stu with the CDM role, Michael Bradley is the box-to-box and Klinsmann loves Jermaine Jones. You may eventually try Holden at the withdrawn RFW role, but that doesn’t really fit his skillset.

        A healthy Holden would be intriguing though.

        Reply

        • Klinsy may have an incredible amount of love for Jermaine Jones (see his quotes in November about him being a veteran presence), but honestly, I don’t see Jones as a leader. The amount of simulation he can be prone to is frustrating in and of itself, but couple that with the fact he sees more cards than a gambling addict makes him feel like weakness to this team, not a strength. He’s insanely athletic (I feel that his speed is almost criminally underrated) and he has skill with the ball at his feet…but he’s so maddeningly inconsistent. When he’s turned the ball over in the attacking third and is rolling around like he’s been shot while whoever we’re playing is moving the ball through the space he should be getting back to on defense, I’m fighting the urge to throw my remote through the TV.

          All this said…he’s better than Edu. And Beckerman can’t play that spot, and I don’t know if any of our other MLS middies have the athletic ability to cope at the international level. But lawdy, I want to see Holden in that spot eventually.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/09 at 9:38 AM

            Agreed. I’d love to see Holden too … and before Evan KO’d him Holden was bringing the lumber on tackles. A perfect accomplice in the system.

            But he’s got to show that he’s there.

            Reply

            • Agreed. And I think Jones is probably the best current choice out of a bunch of deeply flawed options. What I don’t get is JK praising his leadership when he’s probably the player most of us would hate to play with the most of the top XI.

          • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/01/09 at 1:49 PM

            I see Jones as that coach’s favorite at practice. Always busting lungs and thundering around in every drill. That can be a great presence to have in camp. On the field I think Jones is crap for the US, especially in a tournament setting. He is on my roster for 2014, but only as bradley’s backup.

            Reply

            • Posted by Gregorio on 2013/01/10 at 8:52 PM

              I want to disagree here, I believe that Jones when he plays within himself ( I almost typed played with himself) is a very good player. He exudes class but with his time with the USMNT he tries to do too much. Now why he does that, I leave to conjecture perhaps the technique/thought patterns off the ball is not as prevalent with the Nats as is with his team mates at Schalke. but this is strictly my lazy-boy
              recliner analysis.

    • Posted by bjelks on 2013/01/09 at 7:57 AM

      This team would be so much better with Freddu Adu at attacking mid or left wing. He’s the only player in the pool capable of creating in the final third, holding under pressure, or beating defenders with the dribble.

      If Stuart Holden is healthy, he easily slides into Right Center Mid or Right Mid, depending on the formation.

      I dont see how Parkhurst gets a shot over Lichaj. Lichaj is in a different league all together of quality.

      As soon as we play a good team, Zusi will get exposed. I dont have much faith in his athleticism or technique as a winger.

      Boca has to be replaced by either Gonzo, Brooks, or HInes. His lack of pace is a liabilityl

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/09 at 8:13 AM

        Disagree on Adu and Holden.

        Adu has talent, but if you can’t impose it except in 15 minute stretches you’re a liability. He’s a liability. Stu Holden actually does not slot in anywhere just yet. He’s more of a mid. Agree his role may be advanced on the right, but that’s not really his skillset

        Reply

  2. holy moly, that is an amazing depth chart report. well done and much appreciated for those of us living abroad that have not been able to follow mls or the nats at will. nota 10!

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/08 at 7:29 AM

      Thanks Chris — looking to more of your expert analysis of Brazil 2014 as we get closer as well. For those that don’t know, Chris is an expert on the dire economic and social situation taking place around Brazil 2014. He’s written on TSG a few times.

      Reply

  3. Great job guys. Although I wish others make that roster, I think you are pretty right on give or take a player or two and of course… dreaded injuries.

    Now tell me the Gold Cup Roster for 2013!?! Haha! I’d assume it would be any and all left overs from this January Camp and some that didn’t make the WC roster.

    Reply

  4. Posted by john mosby on 2013/01/08 at 12:17 PM

    there is a very nice article by aleco eskandarian about clint dempsey and his first jan, camp with the usa back in 05. anyone who has opinions on dempsey should find and read this article.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Alex on 2013/01/08 at 1:56 PM

    The point that our Forward isn’t our main goal scorer is really interesting. I never did put two and two together but it’s pretty obvious that when our “first” team plays its not Herc or Jozy or forward who’s most likely to score, its our wings (Donovan and EJ) and Dempsey who are more likely to. Thinking back to our best offensive game vs Scotland, we would possess and in the final 3rd, play a ball to a Herc/Boyd to layoff to a CM to play a killer ball into an incutting Donovan. And we did that a lot.

    Another thought, I believe Pontious would be best placed at the LW/2ndStkr role. He’s pretty good in possession going up the field, then in the final 3rd he’s always driving at defenses and then looking to shoot (with both feet competently as well). It’s a shame we won’t seem him this camp but he should get a chance soon enough.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/01/08 at 5:27 PM

      Are you suggesting the US are suffering from a touch of Heskeyitis?!?

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/08 at 8:48 PM

        Bite your tongue, no Australians on this team. :>

        Reply

      • Posted by Alex on 2013/01/09 at 10:17 AM

        Hahaha it kinda sounds like I am doesn’t it? What I’m really trying to say is that the CF/ST in our formation is required to be an excellent passer and central outlet rather than a turn and shoot every time type of player. More McBride less Defoe

        Reply

  6. Posted by bob on 2013/01/08 at 7:06 PM

    Edu isn’t playing for Stoke. Lichaj has been horrible for Aston Villa.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/08 at 8:47 PM

      Jermaine Jones hasn’t been lighting it on fire either … but what does that mean? Form ebbs and flows.

      Reply

  7. Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2013/01/08 at 9:14 PM

    Stellar breakdown…I agree with the bulk of it, especially with regards to Deuce and his maddening deep midfield drop. Ton of pressure on Omar to get it done. I understand the argument, but I can’t get excited about Boca making it to the WC as a starter at all…Hoping Besler impresses quickly and sneaks in as an organizer. I really hope Corona does take a big step this year and gives Mix a run for his money. I don’t like seeing Agudelo so far down the depth chart, he’s a tweener, but usually seems to draw a second defender from most opponents…he also wins a lot of battles. In the spirit of the crazy idea, if EJ beats out Jozy up top, I’d put Agudelo as the swing LW. I don’t know, he’s one of the few attackers that we have that gets the opposing teams attention.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/08 at 9:20 PM

      I think Agudelo has all the goods to be THE US striker of the future.

      His passing is ridiculously good for someone his age. He doesn’t try to do too much — he almost is too passive sometime.

      We had a piece a few months ago with TSG’s top prospects and he was in the Top 5 for me with: Gatt, Shea, John A. Brooks & Lletget.

      …and I think he has the highest ceiling.

      Reply

  8. Posted by dude on 2013/01/08 at 9:32 PM

    Great article. One thing threw me though: Why is Chris Pontius listed at CAM? He played that role, yes, but it was the only one that didn’t suit him. He’d be perfect, and more consistent than Shea, at LM/STR2. He’s a mix between second striker and left midfielder, he excels one v. one, and his season in MLS was equally impressive as EJ’s.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/08 at 9:34 PM

      Fair criticism. I think for me there just aren’t a lot of players that can play well in traffic. He’s one of them. But you’re probably right.

      Reply

  9. [...] over at The Shin Guardian did a detailed depth chart of the USMNT as we enter 2013.  And Brian Sciaretta gives us his breakdown of the January [...]

    Reply

  10. All around great piece – thanks so much for this. On Shea, what do you think the issue is at this point? He seemed so perfectly poised to break out when Klinsi took over, but it seems like he’s just been in purgatory for the last 12 months. The talent seems immense – is this an attitude thing, a work issue, is he having trouble at the club level? Any insight into what’s going on with him?

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2013/01/09 at 12:16 PM

      Bad case of mulletitis. You see them pop up on young players (and Raul Meireles) right before they forget that they haven’t earned anything yet. Usually followed by a prolonged period of lacksidaiscal play, overvaluing your skills and suburban badassness followed by demotion to lower level and major career damage. Prognosis isn’t good. .
      unless it’s cut off…

      Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2013/01/10 at 1:46 PM

      Injuries ruined this entire year. He was playing hurt, then he wasn’t playing at all. Had offseason surgery, I think it was a bad case of turf toe. Hypothetically he’ll 100% come start of MLS season and should be on the Gold Cup roster

      Reply

  11. Posted by Brian on 2013/01/09 at 11:40 AM

    Thank you. This is my first visit to TSG. If this piece is a valid indicator, then I’ve found the Holy Grail. As the header puts it, “high quality commentary.” At one time or another I’ve followed about every leading soccer site out there. Some are better than others, but I always come away thinking that I’ve just listened to my junior high (American) football coach. It’s always superficial, or, if insightful, not really integrating the whole element of player strengths/weaknesses from all angles (athleticism, skill, intelligence/reading, tactics …). Again, thanks. Very enjoyable.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/25 at 10:39 PM

      Late but thanks for the feedback. Welcome!

      Reply

      • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/01/26 at 11:26 AM

        This is indeed the Holy Grail for the U.S. football fan who does not want to search the whole damm web for valid content. I am also extremely happy I have found it. I read every email notification I get with anticipation of reading something pertinent and well thought out.
        My greatest joy(s) about this site? Well thought out comments/analysis even when I do not disagree and no BLOWHARDS!!!!
        Let’s police ourselves and keep it that way.

        Reply

  12. Posted by Chad on 2013/01/09 at 2:07 PM

    Out of 5,000 words, not much to disagree with but here goes:

    “Most of the time, the US leftback-through design or ability-is tasked with remaining at home.”

    I think that’s true on the road, somewhat, but in CONCACAF qualifying FJ is going to spend a lot of time going forward this year. And as you say elsewhere, Johnson has looked extremely prolific when licensed with forward attack.

    “Johnson should get a runout at the tip of the spear-the striker role-because of his ability to hold up the ball and run off it.”

    Has EJ’s holdup play really advanced that much…against top competition? His holdup play was dreadful at Fulham. It’s been better at Seattle, but he lacks the build for it. I’d like to keep him running at players from the wing and at other times let him hide like Clark Kent in the run of play only to show up to head home a cross like Superman. He’s not a banger. I doubt EJ is a tough cover for DeMerit b/c of his holdup play.

    “For Klinsmann’s team, the striker has to do three things in his system to be effective and none of them are scoring…hold the ball…move off the ball and play defense.” “Klinsmann and Bob Bradley think similarly about the striker role…”

    Those words just make me really sad. Both of those coaches played as forwards. Do they really believe that scoring goals is no better than the 4th most important thing a striker has to do? For Bradley I think you could talk me into this, but even he was playing with the hand he was dealt as far as lacking a consistent scoring forward. I’ll never believe this statement about JK until I watch him say it (and then I’ll still look for an ulterior motive). Right now, the US does not score enough. So far, neither Jozy nor Herc can be counted on to score at a good clip. But the second that one of them (or someone else does), they will start for the US at striker even if they are somewhat deficient in holdup play, movement and defense. I would say that SINCE they are not scoring, they need to be excellent in these other phases of the game. All the top teams in the world have scoring forwards, who do other things well. In the Euros, Italy threw a midfielder forward to play D, but that was behind 2 scoring, creating forwards. Klose scores a ton! Please TSG, say you didn’t mean it. Please.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/09 at 3:15 PM

      Great points. And that’s best part of TSG, healthy dissension/debate.

      The sort-of rebuttals:

      * I can’t see Johnson getting forward on the road, as you attest. At home, it really matters who the LW is. If it’s EJ–as we saw against Russian–he’s not going to make it up the pitch as much. If it’s JFT tucking in, then, yes.
      But fair point.

      * EJ wasn’t tasked with a lot of hold-up play at Fulham. He usually ran off a hold-up guy, be it Bobby Zamora or Kamara or whomever.
      I think EJ is tough because he’s got the combination of size and speed and I think the Sounders are going to do better with him in the hole this year rather than Montero.

      And as for the DeMerit quote, I’ll go find it because it did allude to his hold-up play.

      * Now… and yes Klose scores a ton … but. The third point is where I think there is little foundation for your argument.

      You can clearly see that Klinsmann is making his striker decisions based upon movement off the ball and defensive work after a turnover.

      First, you’ve got Gomez, Gordon and Boyd all of whom do other things better than score. Gomez has been starting and scoring, but I can tell you for a fact that he’s not starting because of those goals. (Jamaica, Brazil)

      Klinsmann has brought in Buddle, Gordon, Agudelo, Wondo. Boyd and Gomez outside of Altidore. All have been tasked with hold-up play. Wondo is not there, in my opinion, because Gomez moves better off the ball and is better at hold-up–that’s just not Wondo’s strong suit.

      If you wanted your forwards to score then you migrate the system to one that takes better advantage of Altidore, Gomez whoever .. that would be more of a 4-4-2 …which it really hasn’t become. Altidore is thriving in Alkmaar because he’s playing off the target man.

      The current US system–and another tactical piece is coming here–is designed to maximize defensive protection and defending up the field first before scoring. Bradley did that differently (I’ll share it next week.)

      Anywho, I stand by my statement. You can see it in the team selection and the substitutions.

      As for Klose, he’s always scored for Germany regardless of the coach. Podolski was more the focal point of the attack during Klinsy’s reign.

      Reply

    • Posted by mbw on 2013/01/09 at 5:28 PM

      I’d take minor issue with your statement that the US doesn’t score enough goals. Of course in an ideal world the US would score more. And yes, we’re scoring less than we “ought” to be because the attack still hasn’t gelled under Klinsmann. But we already score enough (or close to enough) goals to meet our objectives. The real issue is still defense. Of all the teams clearly upstream from the US, only Uruguay has a comparably porous defense — and they’ve been lining up against Messi and Falcao.

      Reply

      • Posted by john mosby on 2013/01/09 at 5:49 PM

        im sorry mbw, but are you saying uruguay, defending champs of south america, and world cup semifinalist, have a good defense, or a bad defense? comparably

        Reply

        • Posted by mbw on 2013/01/09 at 6:50 PM

          I am saying that Uruguay, which in its most recent competition has surrendered four goals twice and three goals once (against one clean sheet in ten games), has a relatively poor defense. “Relatively” because they play against top-quality offensive competition.

          This is borne out, incidentally, in SPI’s DEF ratings — of the top 25 teams, only Uruguay, Sweden, and Belgium rank as poorly as the US.

          Reply

          • Posted by john mosby on 2013/01/10 at 8:12 AM

            mbw, i hear what you are saying. im just contending that you cant refer to uruguay as porous defense. this is a country that is known for its defense. its like referencing italians and porous defense in the same sentence and you cant do that.

            those three qualifiers you speak of were road games against the ballon d or teams, and a team that plays above 7k feet. uruguay was three wins and two draws in qualifiers before this road run.

            a look at the most recent competition, which was copa america shows that uruguay ran the table in the knockout rounds, shutting out three of four opponents and only allowing one goal to argentina.

            this is a team that has exceptional defense, but if you wanna say they have been porous in their last three road qualifiers, i would concede that viewpoint to you.

            Reply

            • Posted by mbw on 2013/01/10 at 8:40 AM

              The original point was just that very few teams with which the US would like to be compared suffer from as shoddy a defense. If you write Uruguay’s WCQ campaign off as an aberration (as you’re suggesting) then it’s none instead of one. All the more reason shoring up the defense is priority number one.

  13. Posted by john mosby on 2013/01/09 at 3:37 PM

    i want forwards who score lots of goals, and defenders who dont give up any. if we can get to that point, the national team is going to be a real force.

    Reply

    • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/01/10 at 8:28 AM

      Are you John Madden in disguise?

      “Really its going to come down to who scores more”

      Just teasing, but I read what you wrote and instantly thought of that.

      Reply

      • Posted by john mosby on 2013/01/10 at 8:31 AM

        they call them strikers for a reason, right?

        Reply

        • It’s just semantics.

          If they called them scorers that would be less open to interpretation than striker.

          Look at the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup. They scored 5 goals in the group stage and 7 more on the way to the final for a total of 12 goals and only 2 of those came from nominal “strikers” , RVP and Huntelaar.

          They only gave up 5 goals while scoring 12 for a goal difference of +12.

          The first thing is to not give up goals, then you have to create scoring chances, then you have to score.

          It doesn’t matter who scores. What matter is that somebody scores.

          Reply

  14. Posted by Colin Reese on 2013/01/10 at 11:11 PM

    I’m really surprised that after a year of watching the same problems with the defense, the passing, and the lack of shots on goal that Klinsmann hasn’t just grabbed the dry erase marker and written: Howard; Cherundolo, Cameron, Gonzalez, Johnson; Jones; Feilhaber, Bradley, Dempsey; Agudelo, Boyd and then just taken the field.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/11 at 6:41 AM

      Many doubt about Gonzalez still, but the potential is there. Feilhaber will need to quit his onfield yapping and hustle back on d. Feilhaber’s d is bad, but he didn’t get a sniff again after the Venezuela game last year when he was complaining to the refs and Venezuela was on the counter.

      Agudelo and Boyd are redundant as target strikers. Agudelo has played exclusively–and appropriately–as a target man in Klinsmann system. To me, if he develops, he is going to be the target man of the future of the US in 2018. Tidy with the ball, can beat a guy one on one with enough space, understands how to move.

      Reply

      • And now that he’s staying in Scotland, he’s well primed to wind up on the radar of a more prominent league. The SPL will be good for him in terms of getting used to more contact up top and hopefully he’ll impress enough to earn regular time in the rotation for Celtic this season. I would’t expect him to win a starting job this season but he’s skilled and he’s young…hopefully he puts some people on notice.

        Reply

        • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/01/11 at 2:33 PM

          Feilhaber may be the most over rated player in U.S. modern history next to Adu.(hell- at least Freddy produced on the international level on a few occasions) He had one moment of glory vs. Mexico on a volley -that may or may not been intentional- and ever since then he has held this deep held passion in the U.S. fan contingents hearts. And what has he produced since then??? zip,zero NADA.
          Just because you where born in Brazil does not ordain you a great creator or brilliant visionary. I would take at least ten play making U.S. midfielders over him in a heart beat. Emphasis on the word heart.

          Reply

          • Posted by mbw on 2013/01/11 at 5:03 PM

            Poor Benny. . . . Do World Cups not count? Or victories over Spain?

            Reply

            • Posted by Colin Reese on 2013/01/11 at 5:27 PM

              People seem to forget his Confederations Cup and Word Cup performances, don’t they? No way Feilhaber would have done so well in those games if was this lazy push over like many people make him out to be. He always seems to do well on the international level when he has teammates who play at his level.

            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2013/01/13 at 1:27 PM

              Colin,

              That was almost three-four years ago. That’s a long time in soccer terms

              What has Benny done, except for a very poor appearance during the Venezuela game last year , since to convince you he can be that good again?

              ” He always seems to do well on the international level when he has teammates who play at his level.”

              That’s a pretty lame excuse to keep him around. There is no reason to think there aren’t a number of players who could replicate what he did for the US in the 2010 World Cup ( three 45 minute second half appearances), including Benny himself, if he shapes up.

              He’s good but he’s hardly irreplaceable.

  15. Omar Gonzalez will more than likely jump ahead of Goodson and Bocanegra if he has a very good January Camp.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/11 at 6:43 AM

      He won’t jump ahead of Bocanegra just yet — maybe Goodson and I think that’s what Klinsmann is setting him up for.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/01/14 at 6:15 AM

        Then he is setting poor Goodson , who I like and admire for effort and doggedness, for failure. He just does not possess that innate ability to read the game nor the athletic ability to make up for it when things go astray do to poor decisions, angles etc. taken. But you can never question his effort or his love for the the shirt.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/14 at 6:48 AM

          Agreed. To me, when I look at Goodson, I think he does possess those things, but he is just not a confident player. Against Italy, France, Guatemala on the road, and Slovenia over the past year Goodson was tentative and skittish. Against “B” or less level competition he seems to do just fine.

          Reply

  16. Also Gonzo should be in the LCB group not the RCB group since he will be competing for Bocanegra and Goodson’s spot.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/11 at 6:44 AM

      That’s incorrect actually. Whether it’s Gooch, Orozco-Fiscal, or Goodson, it’s been Cameron–and appropriately so–has moved to the left. He is the only righty that is comfortable turning outward on his left foot with his back to the attack.

      It could happen, but all observations to date give it very little probability.

      Reply

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2013/01/13 at 1:40 PM

      Benz,

      Its seems you see Gonzo as competing with Boca for a spot.

      Leaving the physical part aside Boca has a great deal of experience in World Cups and a number tough European leagues,

      Gonzo has played only in MLS has one cap, and in his last appearance was troubled by Calen Carr??

      I like Gonzo and think he has a bright future but to think he can just step right into arguably one of the most cerebral positions in international soccer ( see Nelsen, Ryan) and replace a guy like Boca, strikes me as unrealistic.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/01/13 at 5:59 PM

        I have tendency to agree. That being said he deserves an opportunity because we are indeed desperate.
        I have question I have been searching for an answer to,trolling web sites, scanning the web etc.
        Does anyone have real update on Stuart Holden’s health? Will he ever able to be 90% of the player he was becoming? I really thought up until the injury(s), especially the gruesome last one, he was blossoming into the edge of world class box to box midfield engine. He seemed to thrive the faster the game was played.
        He is missed. Any good Intel anyone?

        Reply

        • Just got back on the pitch for a training session with the reserve squad. He’s supposed to play this Tuesday with the senior side an FA cup game. You’ll know–should know–in 6 months just how far back he is.

          Most people with knee injuries never fully recover (Fernando Torres, Vidic, Ferdinand, etc.)

          Reply

          • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/01/14 at 6:11 AM

            Well let’s hope he breaks the norm because he seems like a hell of a nice ………….well he is not a kid anymore so let’s say young man. And he can play at what I call “world speed” unlike so many other MLS grads such as Benny Feilhaber. In my opinion the love fest with Feilhaber stems from his Brasilian roots but if Brasil fielded 200 national squads he would not make one of them. No heart and very questionable head. But he can juggle!!!!

            Reply

            • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/01/14 at 6:30 AM

              Sorry – heard some screaming from the pitch across the street from my house. Apparently Jermaine Jones stopped his car, got out, ran on to the pitch and just totally plowed over an 8 year old midfielder for no apparent reason, shrugged, received a red card from a quite shocked youth ref, walked back to his car and blamed the whole incident Schalke 04 management.

  17. Posted by Fellaini'sfro on 2013/01/14 at 11:40 AM

    Did anyone else catch that Stu Holden played 65 minutes with the reserve team on January 10 and the current manager of Bolton’s first team mentioned that Stu might play in Tuesday’s FA Cup game against Sunderland. That would go a long way towards something meaningful happening for Stu’s career and perhaps back on JK’s radar.

    Reply

    • Did see that. Also (this is going to sound ridiculous because I have no sourcing or confirmation of any kind), have heard from a friend with good connections that Arsenal is currently taking a look at him and considering making Bolton an offer. That could be totally untrue and as a Spurs fan I hate it, but I’d love to see Stu come around. There was a great profile of him in the debut issue of the Howler, by the way.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/14 at 12:19 PM

        Interesting. He is set to be in the squad for Bolton’s FA cup match with SUnderland on Tuesday.

        On Arsenal, I would normally dismiss something like that, especially for an injured player, but if you look now at Arsenal’s track record, they are trying to take risk on some oft-injured players as means of keeping their transfer fees and salaries down.

        Benyaoun (spl) last year, Mertesacker, Gervinho all fit that profile. Not sure it’s smart, but that would be interesting.

        Bolton is in some financial distress. They went big under former coach Owen Coyle thinking they would avoid relegation and because next year there is a major jump in Prem revenues.

        Not they’re in the Championship. They had to sell off Cahill, they lost both Muamba and Holden in the middle to injury. They lost Elhmander when they needed him.

        So in other words, they need to get out from under contracts.

        …but who knows…that’s just the pro argument right there.

        Reply

        • Posted by Fellaini'sfro on 2013/01/14 at 7:46 PM

          I did catch the Howler magazine debut article, though the reprinted version on the NY Times website. I found him to be a very engaging chap who is always positive and has one of those personalities that everyone likes. Stu is one of those glue guys that keep a team together. You cannot discount chemistry in the locker room and he seems to one that would keep a locker room loose.

          I find it interesting that after these past few years of essentially standing behind and injured Stu and supporting him through two years of rehabbing that Bolton would entertain an offer for him. Through various media outlets, articles and even his own Twitter feed Stu comes off as a beloved player on Bolton and the community. But if anything I have learned about professional sports is that it is a business first and I am sure that Bolton does not want to turn into another Portsmouth who trying to stay above relegation to League 2 three years after being in the Premiership and four years after winning the FA Cup.

          If Arsene is looking at him than I have to think that Stu has turned a corner and is showing quality in training. If he has an exceptional outing tomorrow in the FA Cup game and the rumors are true about a possible Arsenal transfer than I would have to think that Stu is invited to one of 2013 USMNT camps and plays in a summer Hex game.

          Reply

          • And Stu has just come on for Bolton late in the second. That’s a big step and a big endorsement of where he’s at in the process of recovering his form. Let’s hope it continues.

            Reply

            • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/01/26 at 11:31 AM

              amen to that brother. He is a piece of the pie that very few are speaking of but can be a game changer if he can be 90% of the player he was until Evans struck him with a very high, cleats up, 2 footed challenge.
              No one ever speaks of that tackle. Go back on Utube and look at it again.

  18. Posted by wixson on 2013/01/14 at 6:46 PM

    So very good, thx. Took me a week to finish. I prefer your quality/quantity approach.

    Now back to metadata and heatmaps.

    Reply

  19. [...] week, TSG took to our Proof Labs to meticulously cull dumpsters full of data to come up with “January 2013: Jurgen Klinsmann’s Depth Chart,” a 5,000 word must-read missive designed to completely explore the possibilities of the US [...]

    Reply

  20. [...] week, TSG took to our Proof Labs to meticulously cull dumpsters full of data to come up with “January 2013: Jurgen Klinsmann’s Depth Chart,” a 5,000 word must-read missive designed to completely explore the possibilities of the US [...]

    Reply

  21. Posted by Chase on 2013/01/21 at 10:52 AM

    Fantastic read. This the first time I have visited TSG and I will be here indefinitely. It is refreshing to read an article written by an American whom has the understanding of the game as well as the insight to our players, current and future.

    I am greatly looking forward to “crazy prediction #2″ and John Anthony Brooks becoming a regular USMNT jersey. Does anyone know if he is still trying to decide between US and GER? We need to lock this guy up!

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/01/21 at 10:56 AM

      Germany hasn’t called him in yet, but they’ve got a young stable of CBs. He’d at best compete for a role, with the US–if he progresses as his career has shown–he’ll be a nobrainer on the left side.

      Reply

  22. [...] We talked about it in our exhaustive USMNT depth chart piece here; really worth the [...]

    Reply

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