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United States Men's National Team World Cup Preview

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World Cup Preview:

Everyone has been talking about what the United States will do when they open the World Cup against Ghana, the main question which everyone wants answered is whether Michael Bradley will line up further up the pitch from Jermaine jones or whether they will lineup side by side in a more defensive formation. One option, which Jurgen Klinsmann may entertain, is the notion of playing two strikers. Jozy Altidore is a sure starter despite his recent form, and Klinsmann may look to partner him with Aron Johannsson. The two played together briefly at AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie before Altidore moved to his current club Sunderland, in the English Premier League. Since linking up with the USMNT for the World Cup the pair have played well together when on the same field, Johannsson even netted a goal in the friendly vs. Azerbaijan. 

If Klinsmann does decide to play Johannsson and Altidore in the same starting lineup, the United States would line up in a traditional 4-4-2. Captain Clint Dempsey, and Sporting K.C. midfielder Graham Zusi would occupy the right and left wings. Though Dempsey normally occupies a role much more central and further up the field for the national team, he has played wide left for his club team the Seattle Sounders during the MLS season and has had success. He and Zusi would not play as traditional wingers, up and down the flank; instead they would come inside, similar to Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben for Bayern Munich. 

With Dempsey wide, particularly against Portugal, this may force Cristiano Ronaldo to play more defensively due to the threat which Dempsey may pose, he and Zusi would also be allowed to roam far up the pitch knowing Bradley and Jones are behind them with defensive cover. Now I doubt Klinsmann will do this, and am not saying its even the best option, it would be the most attacking option though for the United States which would allow them to attempt to turn attack in to the best form of defense. The less time they have to defend Germany and Portugal the better. 

In reference to Dempsey forcing Ronaldo into defensive cover, I, as well as all fans know Ronaldo is the superior attacking talent, however if Dempsey is left free because Ronaldo shrugs defensive duties, he may be able to capitalize, and if Ronaldo comes back, that may be even better. The more defending the reigning Player of the Year must do, the less energy he has to attack. On the other hand, Dempsey may shrug his defensive responsibilities, which can cause the United States trouble, as Ronaldo cannot be allowed free space. The United States will most likely line up more conservative, with just one striker, and having Dempsey play the support striker role. 

This article offers a different view, and unique perspective as to how the United States may lineup and may look to overcome their difficult group. Feel free to ask questions and leave comments.

By Antonio Lynch