With advancement to the hexagonal assured, U.S. Men's National Team Coach Bob Bradley named his squad for Wednesday's match in Port of Spain.
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF)
Guzan will obviously get the start and maybe the U.S. can get another clean sheet run going.
DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
Gone are veterans Onyewu, Bocanegra, and Cherundolo. I would like to have seen Jay DeMerit called in for this but he is down with a hamstring and it is better not to push it too much. Added to the list are MLS players and Orozco from Mexico, so travel is not an issue. This is a good mix of experience and youth, strength speed, lots and lots of speed.
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio) José Francisco Torres (Pachuca)
The addition of Mastroeni increases the average age here a little, but it is still a young and exciting midfield. With the addition of Mastroeni, I wonder what will be Bradley's formational choice (more on that below).
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
Jozy showed in just 20 minutes of play why he is so exciting. He is quick, strong and mobile. He will no doubt get the nod since he earned it on Saturday.
So the question will be, who will start, where and what formation will Bradley use. In all likelihood, I would expect to see a 4-4-2 with a set-up like this:
Torres for Beasley
Davies for Rodgers
Wynne for Pearce
What I would like to see is more of a 4-1-4-1 set up like this:
Davies for Altidore
Beasley for Rodgers
Szetela for Mastroeni (if the U.S. is ahead by two or more)
Szetela for Torres (if the U.S. is ahead by one or less)
This puts onto the field a good mix of experience (Mastroeni and Hejduk) with lots of youth (obviously). This line up keeps only one player on the pitch that started the Cuba match--Kljestan, so there are few concerns about players being tired. But also what it does is put world class speed on the flanks (Kljestan aside, although he is by no means slow of foot) and solid ball control and creativity down the middle with Mastroeni, Adu, and Torres along the spine. Mastroeni is a quality holding midfielder and Bradley can use him well. I would push Edu a little forward of the back line, almost like a 3-2-4-1 and let him use some of those distributional skills he needs to improve. The speed of Wynne and Hejduk can make up for some of the mistakes they may make and we shouldn't worry about those mistakes, that is why you have speedy backs. Wynne may not be as good a crosser of the ball as Pearce may be, but you have to give him a shot.
Additionally, that four man midfield can play anywhere and can move around in order to exploit the Trinidad weaknesses. With Wynne's quite literal world class sprinter speed (see the Toronto FC/NY Red Bull highlights from last week) and Hejduk bombing up and down the flanks, it is possible for the U.S. to overwhelm the Trinidad defense. Rodgers on the left is a dangerous weapon, particularly when paired with Adu/Torres in the middle.
If this squad does well in Trinidad, this is largely the squad I would call for the Guatamala match in November. However, as much as I would like to see Bradley experiment a little, I am not going to go hog wild. I think a 4-4-2 is likely, with maybe Edu instead of Orozco pushing a little forward of the back line. At most I could envision a 4-2-3-1 with Edu and Mastroni in the holding slots. As much as Bradley has a lot of attacking talent on this squad, I simply don't seem him letting them run.