Who should Bradley start?

USMNT
There are some decisions for Bradley to make up front, in the midfield, and on the backline – with Gooch out on yellows and Demerit with a groin strain. When making his decisions, Bradley must start from the premise that this is a must win game that we need to attack from the start.

Since we need to score goals – NO Brian Ching. There is zero need for someone who can hold up the ball – we need to play with people who have the skill to create and put the ball in the back of the net. Steve Davis of ESPN takes a contrary view, insisting that “Ching is almost sure to be in the lineup. His ability to rattle around and make things happen by winning second balls will be critical against what is sure to be a crowded Salvadoran defensive third.” When – when was the last time this was really true? I can think of the Mexico Gold Cup final where he got fouled and one a penalty, but then he GOT FOULED. I can’t think of him actually ever really making anything happen. But Davis maybe right, and Ching may get the start, but not because of Brian Ching, but for some reason Bradley loves him.

Ives, thankfully, leaves out Ching and has a front two of Davies and Dempsey, with Holden taking his place on the wings. I respect this choice, but I would rather have Jozy on the field than Holden. I think despite fitness concerns Altidore needs to start. You would rather have 60 minutes of him trying to score than 30 min. And with El Salvador likely to pack it in, it is key to have size in the box. We shouldn’t over think it – Jozy is a future star, he scores goals and is a beast – he has to play a lot.

Ives also has Spector instead of Cherundolo at right back. I am going to have to go with Cherundolo here. He is a bit better crosser of the ball and has more pace to deal with any potential counter attacks. Although, I could see Spector at left back instead of Bornstein. Even though Bornstein’s speed might be useful, he is simply not that good on the ball and is frankly a little erratic. Spector plays in the EPL and should be able to lock down any Salvadorean counters. Spector could also play centrally but I think Marshall is a good choice. We need size back there, not for defensive purposes, but offensively for free-kicks and corners.

Where I am a little torn is whether to go with Clark or Feilhaber. On the one hand Feilhaber has the skill to unlock defenses, on the other hand playing Clark provides more cover if there is a counter and would allow Bradley to be aggressive going forward. Bradley is a really good ball winner in the midfield, which can create chances when he plays higher up the field. But in a straight holding role he has to be more cautious. With four solid attacking players – Donovan, Davies, Altidore and Dempsey – that should provide enough umph to get a goal and with Clark as a holding player – it gives more license to Cherundulo and Specter to provide width on the flanks.

That being said controlling the ball and moving it around is going to be essential and Feilhaber is playing really well right now. So I would go with:

———Davies-Altidore———–
Donovan–Feilhaber–Dempsey
————-Clark————-
Spector—-Boca—-Marshall—Cherundolo

I would also think this could like a lot more like a 3-4-3 – with Dempsey getting in the box a bit more, Cherundolo pushing up the right wing.

Also if there is a comfortable lead, expect to see Robbie Findley, as he could claim Trinidadian citizenship – lets hope the boys have it locked down, so we can lock Findley down as well.

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