83013_jonesbradleybedoya_isi_usmntmj062511020 Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com
ASN Weekly Debate

Who Will Breakout During Next Week's Qualifiers?

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon talk World Cup qualifying, debating whether Jurgen Klinsmann has a set line up, the merits of the 4-4-2, and the weather. Yeah, that happened.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
August 30, 2013
1:00 PM
Noah Davis: Ryan,we are days away from the next round of World Cup qualifiers. In the past, there has almost always been a surprise inclusion into the Starting XI. Are we going to see one against Costa Rica and/or Mexico, or has Jurgen Klinsmann settled upon a group?

Ryan O'Hanlon: Last night—I'm not kidding, and this makes me sad because... what the hell?—I had a dream that the U.S. lost to Costa Rica and that Klinsmann benched Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.

Davis: That's not really an answer. That's just an admission of your depressing life in Santa Barbara.

O'Hanlon: I can't hear you. I have palm trees and the ocean and mountains and 80-degree weather in my ears.

Davis: How does the weather get in your ears? That sounds very painful.

O'Hanlon: Wouldn't having a palm tree, if not multiple palm trees, in your ears be worse?

Davis: I don't know. I live in New York where the only trees are made from aluminum cans. But answering my own question, because you refuse to, I think this is the most straightforward Starting XI the U.S. has had in... a really long time. Howard; Evans, Besler, Gonzalez, Beasley; Donovan, Bradley, Jones, Johnson; Altidore, Dempsey.

O'Hanlon:  I... agree? I don't think it necessarily should be so straightforward, but here we are. Especially with Zusi injured, that seems a pretty likely starting eleven.

Davis: Cool debate.

O'Hanlon: See you next week?

Davis: You also made that joke last week. So, here's the thing: It's pretty obvious to me that the U.S. is better with two forwards. And yet, Klinsmann seems to want to start games with one. Are we going to see a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3 at the beginning in Costa Rica or will Dempsey and Altidore start up top from the beginning? Or does it really matter? (Note: You are not allowed to say it doesn't matter.)

O'Hanlon: I did? It's becoming increasingly obvious that I'm a robot. Although, I disagree. What is your proof? I think they're better when Michael Bradley is playing next to someone who lets him be Michael Bradley. And they won't be playing with two strikers if they play the players we decided they'll play. Dempsey will always drop deeper than Altidore, just because that's his nature.

Davis: They were significantly better in the second half against Bosnia Herzegovina when Eddie Johnson pushed up next to Altidore rather than hanging back. And yes, Dempsey will drop deeper but there's a difference between that and coming back into the midfield.

O'Hanlon: But didn't that also coincide with Bosnia subbing off half their team and Jermaine Jones leaving the game? The formation, I'd imagine, will be a line of Jones-Bradley in front of the defense, then a line of Johnson-Dempsey-Donovan all playing off of Altidore.

Davis: It's not only that game. It's many others, too. And Jones came off in the 70th minute. Other than that, though, I totally agree. Will the U.S.—favorite pundit talking point alert—stay wide enough with that line up?

O'Hanlon: In the World Cup, they played better whenever Maurice Edu came on! But I'll stop. And I think so. Beasley/Johnson should "provide enough width" on the left, while Donovan (and Dempsey, if he drifts wide) will "provide a different kind of threat" on the right. That wouldn't be my worry with this lineup.

Davis: What would be?

O'Hanlon: The midfield not being solid enoughand Brad Evans.

Davis: Brad Evans will be fine, he writes unconvincingly. If there's a worry for me, it's Omar Gonzalez. He scares me. There, I said it.

O'Hanlon: Especially since there won't be much protection from the guys in front of him, either. In a weird/maybe ridiculous way, this game seems like it'll be the first real test of this unbeaten streak. Like, the Mexico game was just defend/defend/defend for the whole game, Bosnia was a friendly, but at Costa Rica will be a lot of defending but you'd also hope to see a decent amount of possession and attacking, too.

Davis: What Mexico game? I guess I can see that, although I don't think this Costa Rica team is particularly good and they gave up a huge home field advantage. I do love the rhetoric surrounding the match. But back to the initial question I posed: my pick for breakout player is Alejandro Bedoya. I think he's going to make a real case for serious time on the first time. Not a starting spot but certainly sub minutes.

O'Hanlon: I guess I blocked the Belgium game from my memory, but the general point still stands. Bedoya is kind of an ideal change-of-pace sub, so I can see that happening. I'll pick Geoff Cameron as my breakout star until he's back in the lineup. The team needs him, and I think that'll be clear during/after the Costa Rica game.

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon do this every week. Occasionally, they improve.

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