U.S. fans are in full fret about Saturday’s starting lineup. Bob Bradley is fully inscrutable. (Can one be scrutable? Just asking.) There seem to be three outstanding puzzles.
Is Oguchi "Gooch" Onyewu healthy enough to start at center back or not? Is playing him a risk worth taking? It’s fair to say fandom is pulling for him. If Gooch doesn’t get the nod, next up seems to be Clarence Goodson who has played well in all the prep matches. He’s as tall as Gooch, 6’4”, but not as bulky. Another option would be to move Carlos Bocanegra to the center and put a Jonathan –- Bornstein or Spector –- at left back. If "Inscrutable" were to ask, I’d vote for Plan A or B.
Who will play next to Bradley the younger? Ricardo Clark has gotten the most playing time and is most likely. But he hasn’t dazzled and some of the writers in South Africa wonder if Maurice Edu will replace him. Edu plays in the Scottish League and is more threatening going forward than Clark. The underdog is the new kid, Jose Torres, who looked terrific off the bench against Turkey. There’s been a lot of carping that the U.S. hasn’t done well maintaining possession in the midfield and Torres might help most with that. But he seems more likely to come on as a sub.
Part 1: Inscrutable did show his hand, announcing Jozy Altidore will indeed start on Saturday.
Part 2: But who will be next to him? The odds have got to be on Edson Buddle. The guy is hot and it seems nuts not to go with that. He was leading the MLS in goals and scored a pair against the Socceroos last Saturday. He is a big target forward like Jozy so maybe that doesn’t appeal to Inscrutable. Next up would be Robbie Findley but he had two whopper misses against Australia and appears to be slotted for a super-sub role. And then there’s the beautifully named Hercules Gomez, a smaller and swifter striker than Jozy and perhaps steadier than Findley. And I suppose there’s an outside chance Inscrutable could move Clint Dempsey up from midfield to play next to Jozy and put either Damarcus Beasley or Stuart Holden out at wing.
If I had to bet, I’d stack it this way:
Bocanegra, DeMerit, Onyewu and Cherundolo in back; Donovan, Bradley, Clark and Dempsey in the middle; Altidore and Buddle up front.
What's your line-up?