If We Were Jürgen…Our Preferred XI for the World Cup Send-Off Against Nigeria

It’s been an interesting send off series for the United States Men’s National Team. First, a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan, a side not quite ready to be taken seriously on the world stage. Next, a 2-1 win over always dangerous Turkey, in a back and forth affair that highlighted several strengths and many more weaknesses in Jürgen Klinsmann’s squad. The final friendly takes place Saturday in Jacksonville, against legit World Cup Competition, and hopes to answer at least of few of those questions before the games start to count for real.

Victory over Turkey instilled some confidence in the USMNT, but left plenty of questions for the final friendly against Nigeria (Photo Credit: Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)

Enter Nigeria, a team looking to turn their fortunes around following an underwhelming 2010 World Cup and disappointing Confederations Cup in 2013. Nigeria has an opportunity to do some damage in Brazil. Although out-classed on paper versus Argentina, Nigeria has the personnel to hang with Bosnia and Herzegovina and rout Iran.

Before they head to Brazil though the Super Eagles have one last test, the United States of America. While the Stars & Stripes have gone 2-0 in their send-off matches, Nigeria has drawn three times against Mexico, Scotland and Greece. Nigeria is ranked 30th in the ELO rankings, one spot below the Yanks’ last opponent, Turkey. The Nigerians feature several veterans of Europe’s top leagues, including Chelsea man Jon Obi Mikel.

Nigeria will be a tough test for the Yanks, who still are marked by uncertainty at several positions, even if much of the lineup seems at least penciled in. Dan Popko is back from Europe, and after the jump are our picks of who we want Jürgen Klinsmann to start in this crucial, final friendly.


Steve Fogarty: Tim Howard. 90 minutes. No further analysis necessary.

Dan Popko: Tim-Timminy, Tim-Timminy, Tim Tim, Taroo. We have Tim Howard and he says, — well, something we can’t say on this blog. Time to get ready, Timmy.


Popko: Admittedly, I’ve been gone and haven’t been able to watch the performance of the USMNT backline with any nuance, but it looks like there have been some issues. Considering the fact that the starters have been a fairly experimental quartet, it seems as though Klinsmann will give them every chance to continue coalescing into a serviceable unit before the World Cup. Thus, we’ll run it back with Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler and yes, Timmy Chandler — though I personally want to see DaMarcus Beasley given another legitimate shot.

Fogarty: I personally believe that Klinsmann intends to go for broke with the Cameron/Besler defense pairing. Then again, he’s proven me wrong time and again. I considered giving John Anthony Brooks a start here, but one good half is not enough to disrupt chemistry. Following his wonder goal against Turkey, Fabian Johnson should start on the right. I’m still not sure that’s where he belongs. The reason for the prior statement is because of concerns on the left side. Beasley is not a natural left back or defender. Chandler, a natural right back, looked decent at left back against Turkey before self-destructing down the stretch. I have no idea what the hell to do here. I guess Chandler has more upside, so I’ll start him.

Defensive Midfield:

Fogarty: Jermaine Jones has been great as the defensive midfielder in the diamond against Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, even with Jones’ defensive work, Turkey was still able to put pressure on a less than sharp U.S. defense. Therefore, one last time, I’ll be stubborn and bring Michael Bradley back as the second holding midfielder. Klinsmann brought Bradley back in this spot during the second half against Turkey and shut down anything the Turks attempted to run down the middle.

Popko: The thing is Fogarty, Klinsmann can be pretty stubborn himself. Because of that, I’ll throw it to the diamond for one more go-round under the thinking that the coach believes it is the best chance to get some quality play further up the pitch. Looks like “Jermaine Jones on an island” remains the scariest phrase in the English language.

Attacking Midfield:

Dan Popko: If I’m going diamond in my projection, the middle has to be Michael Bradl

Michael Bradley will get all of the minutes in Brazil, but it remains to be seen where on the field he will line up (Photo Credit: Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)hn

ey’s spot. If not, it’s Clint Dempsey’s. Around Bradley, things get a little more interesting. Alejandro Bedoya has seemingly earned a place on this team, and I think he might get it on the right this time, with Brad Davis starting on the left. That leaves Graham Zusi on the pine. He’ll get his chance though, especially as his crosses have been one of the only means of unlocking Jozy Altidore in the past year or so — Bosnia friendly aside.

Steve Fogarty: Clint Dempsey is back in the middle of the attacking midfield in the role he enjoyed before Klinsmann switched the formation against Mexico. Zusi has been only so-so on the right wing during the send off series, but still gets my starting nod. On the left, I want to see Bedoya. Davis has been fine during the past two friendlies, but I cannot get over his lack of athleticism. Bedoya had a fine season in France, and had moments of brilliance against Azerbaijan.


Steve Fogarty: The Jozy Altidore goal watch continues. If he performs at all like he did against Turkey, it may come here.

Dan Popko: Come on, Jozy! Get a damn goal! Oh, and I guess I have to put Clint Dempsey in here as well, no?

Steve Fogarty’s Starting XI

——————– Howard ——————–

Johnson — Cameron —- Besler — Chandler

————– Jones —– Bradley ————–

Zusi ————- Dempsey ———— Bedoya

——————– Altidore ———————

Dan Popko’s Starting XI

——————– Howard ——————–

Johnson — Cameron —- Besler — Chandler

——————— Jones ———————

Bedoya ———————————- Davis

——————– Bradley ———————

———— Dempsey —– Altidore ————




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: