2014 World Cup: Predicting USMNT’s Starting XI

2014 World Cup: Predicting The USMNT Squads' Starting XI

WC Draw Cover
Kirby Lee - USATODAY Sports

Now that the 30-man preliminary roster is out and training camp is starting for the USMNT, it’s time to project the starting 11 that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will use in the team’s opening match against Ghana. A lot can change during camp, especially if there are injuries, and there are plenty of spots still up for grabs, but here is what we think the USMNT starting 11 will be at the 2014 World Cup.

Tim Howard, Goalie

Tim Howard
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

Tim Howard, Goalie

Tim Howard
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

If you want hope that the U.S. can advance out of the Group of Death and into the knockout stage, just watch highlights of Howard's season with Everton. He was one of the best keepers in the EPL, and he made more spectacular saves throughout the course of the season than a person can count on two hands. There's no doubt that he's the starting goalie, and his presence in net gives the U.S. a chance to advance.

Fabian Johnson, Left Back

Fabian Johnson
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

Fabian Johnson, Left Back

Fabian Johnson
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

DaMarcus Beasley has been great, and his veteran presence will be needed on the 23-man roster, but if Johnson is in good form, he's the team's best option at left back. Remember, two years ago Johnson looked like someone to pencil in at left back for the next two World Cups. Johnson will be better at pushing up and getting involved in the attack, and that's something the U.S. will need in the Group of Death.

Matt Besler, Center Back

Matt Besler
Brett Davis - USATODAY Sports

Matt Besler, Center Back

Matt Besler
Brett Davis - USATODAY Sports

Besler has long solidified himself as one of the starting center backs. He has the speed to run with some of the athletic strikers the U.S. will see during the group stage, especially in the opener against Ghana, who scored the game winner against the Americans four years ago with speed and athleticism up top.

Clarence Goodson, Center Back

Clarence Goodson USMNT
Getty Images

Clarence Goodson, Center Back

Clarence Goodson USMNT
Getty Images

He doesn't have the same physical presence of Omar Gonzalez, but Goodson has more experience and he can keep the back line organized, which may end up being more important than pure size and athleticism. It'll be a tough call between Goodson and Gonzalez, but Goodson may be the safer choice and the better choice.

Geoff Cameron, Right Back

Geoff Cameron
Kirby Lee - USATODAY Sports

Geoff Cameron, Right Back

Geoff Cameron
Kirby Lee - USATODAY Sports

Predicting the USMNT right back is futile a month away from the tournament, but it's going to be tough to not put Cameron on the field, and right back is the place to do it. He's had some struggles at center back and there's no room for him in central midfield, so at right back Cameron can both defend and get up the flanks and join the attack, which is the best way to utilize him.

Mix Diskerud, Left Midfield

Mix Diskerud
Evan Habeeb - USATODAY Sports

Mix Diskerud, Left Midfield

Mix Diskerud
Evan Habeeb - USATODAY Sports

There are a lot of options for the two outside midfield spots, and while Diskerud has played a lot of central midfield with the national team, he'll also fit well on the outside. Diskerud has great poise on the ball, and he and Fabian Johnson could form a nice tandem on the left side, showing creativity and being able to generate scoring chances.

Michael Bradley, Center Midfield

Michael Bradley
Kirby Lee - USATODAY Sports

Michael Bradley, Center Midfield

Michael Bradley
Kirby Lee - USATODAY Sports

He's the best American soccer player in the world right now, and outside of Tim Howard, he may be the most important to the team's chances in Brazil. Bradley is going to play every minute of the World Cup, and if the U.S. has success, he's going to be a big reason why.

Jermaine Jones, Center Midfield

Jermaine Jones
David Richard - USATODAY Sports

Jermaine Jones, Center Midfield

Jermaine Jones
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It's tempting to put Kyle Beckerman here after the way he and Michael Bradley played together against Mexico, but Bradley and Jones have been the center midfield duo for so long, it's hard to switch it up right before the World Cup. Of course, Jones has to be careful he doesn't get any unnecessary yellow cards and doesn't give away free kicks in dangerous spots, or else swapping him for Beckerman would be a realistic possibility for Klinsmann.

Graham Zusi, Right Midfield

Graham Zusi
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Graham Zusi, Right Midfield

Graham Zusi
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Zusi can swing crosses into the box like no other player the U.S. has, and with good size in the middle of the field, that's going to be a key part of U.S. success in Brazil. Even with a lot of capable outside midfielders on the roster, Jurgen Klinsmann has to put Zusi on the field.

Clint Dempsey, Attacking Midfielder/Second Striker

Clint Dempsey
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Clint Dempsey, Attacking Midfielder/Second Striker

Clint Dempsey
Paul Frederiksen - USATODAY Sports

He's the team's captain and the team's best pure goal scorer, so he's going to be on the field either sitting below the striker or as a second striker. He had a rough winter at Fulham and a slow start to the MLS season, but he's getting hot and scorer goals at the right time, and that gives U.S. fans hope that he'll be able to find the back of the net in Brazil.

Jozy Altidore, Striker

Jozy Altidore
Brad Mills - USATODAY Sports

Jozy Altidore, Striker

Jozy Altidore
Brad Mills - USATODAY Sports

Even after a disappointing season with Sunderland, Altidore may be the best option the U.S. has at striker. He's big and strong, and he brings a wealth of international experience to the table, all of which the U.S. is going to need. If he plays well and can score a couple of goals during the upcoming friendlies, he'll be in the starting XI against Ghana.

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