Potential USA Formations for the World Cup

USA Starting Eleven

The absence of starting striker Charlie Davies poses a riddle for Bob Bradley: does the manager use his traditional 4-4-2 or find a new formation?

The likely solution is moving Clint Dempsey into Davies’ spot and keeping the 4-4-2. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut backup for Dempsey’s right midfield position. Stuart Holden may have been his understudy a few months ago, but a broken leg suffered in March kept him off the pitch until this past weekend. Two other options, representing opposite ends of the international experience spectrum, are Alejandro Bedoya and DaMarcus Beasley. The latter brings speed, outstanding defensive presence for a winger, and experience from two World Cups. The former is playing significant minutes for the 3rd place Swedish club (Orebro SK), also has significant pace, and, unlike Beasley, lacks baggage from a horrible 2009 campaign. The quickness of either could give them an edge over Holden, at least for the England match.  Their pace might be sorely needed against England’s fast and talented wingers.

Last week, FFG tackled the possibilities of the US employing a 4-3-3, with the biggest caveat being the fullbacks’ lack of offensive firepower. We assumed Bob Bradley would use Carlos Bocanegra on the left and Jonathan Spector on the right. If he wants a bit more ‘oomph’ in attack, he could switch Bocanegra for either Jonathan Bornstein or Heath Pearce, both of whom are quick and comfortable with the ball at their feet.

In March (against the Netherlands), Bradley tried another option, a 4-4-1-1 with Landon Donovan employed as the withdrawn striker. Donovan was invisible for most of that match (he started at left midfield) and didn’t have any influence until the formation change. Dempsey, who has played as a withdrawn striker for Fulham, could also be used in this space.

Another suggestion, proposed by FFG reader Ben’s Ten, was a 4-3-2-1, which would make use of the USMNT’s deepest position: center midfield. The fullbacks, unfortunately, would again be the Achilles’ heel. In this formation, much like the 4-3-3, they have to push forward and provide width in attack.  Otherwise the opposing side can pack the middle and stifle the offense.

With the USA’s opening match a month from today, and three exhibitions between now and then, Bradley does have time to tinker and should be able to unearth a functional lineup.

Opinions, gringos? Should the US stick with the tried and true 4-4-2 or does Bradley need to shake things up?

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