06 February, 2013


The US kicks off the final round of World Cup Qualifying tomorrow night with a very tough match at San Pedro Sula. The road match in Honduras is the second-toughest match of the final ten games of qualifying, second only to the quadriannual trip to Estadio Azteca in Mexico city, where we have never won. In contrast, four years ago we won in San Pedro Sula 3-2 with two goals coming from the unlikely Conor Casey (hee hee, that makes me laugh).

Big news: Timothy Chandler has declared that he will play for the United States and is expected to start tomorrow. Playing in an official FIFA World Cup qualifying match makes Chandler officially a member of the United States National Team.

Here is the roster for tomorrow's match, with Landon Donovan out with injury. My picks for the starting eleven are shown, with the benchwarmers in (parentheses) but it has officially been announced that Timothy Chandler will start.

GK: Tim Howard
(Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson)

DR: Timothy Chandler
DC: Carlos Bocanegra
DC: Geoff Cameron
DL: Edgar Castillo
(Fabian Johnson, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans, Matt Besler)

MR: Graham Zusi
MC: Michael Bradley
MC: Jermaine Jones
ML: Jose Francisco Torres
(Maurice Edu, Brad Davis, Sacha Kljestan, Danny Williams)

F: Clint Dempsey
F: Jozy Altidore
(Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson)

My further take on the situation: If we don't take a lead, the first player off the bench will be Herculez Gomez replacing Jozy Altidore. Herculez Gomez is red hot for Santos Laguna and has the drive that Jozy Altidore seems to lack at times. (but if Jozy is hot, great!) Also, Geoff Cameron is now an EPL player with Stoke City, so I give him the starting nod over my man Big Omar Gonzalez (also Omar stunk last time he started for the USMNT). I am not a big fan of Jermaine Jones and would rather see Maurice Edu start at central midfield, but Jurgen Klinsmann likes the Germans so I assume Jones will start. I hope I am wrong and Edu starts. If we go down a goal, expect an offense-for-defense sub with Brad Davis coming on as an attacking midfielder in place of Jermaine Jones in the second half.

Because Jurgen likes the Germans, don't be surprised to see Fabian Johnson starting at left back instead of Edgar Castillo. I picked Castillo because he just won a league championship with Club Tijuana, and starts for the Xolos, but Fabian is also a natural lefty and might be a better complement to Timothy Chandler. Once again, if we are down a goal, Fabian is more of an attacking wing than Castillo at left back, so expect another offense-for-defense sub with Fabian Johnson coming on for Castillo, if Fabian doesn't get the start. Importantly, Fabian can also play left wing, and is better than either of the substute wings (Danny Williams is truly awful, I hear, and I can guarantee that Graham Zusi will play the whole 90 minutes at right wing). For that matter, Fabian Johnson might even start at left wing instead of Jose Francisco Torres, even though Fabian is listed as a defender.

So, my three subs: Herculez, Davis, Fabian.

Agree? Disagree? Make your case in the comments.

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