USMNT vs. Portugal: Should Chris Wondolowski or Aron Johannsson Start?

By Collin Ruby
Getty Images
Getty Images

One of the biggest questions for the USMNT‘s gaffer, Jurgen Klinsmann, is who to start at forward. It seems like a clear-cut decision, though, right? Go experience over youth, right? I would not be so quick to assume that. Klinsmann has a knack of being unconventional, so we may not know until the start of the game or minutes before. In 2006, while managing the Germany National Team, Klinsmann played Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, two very young and inexperienced players at the time. It paid off for Klinsmann and crew as the Germans took third place in 2006.

Let’s get back to the issue at hand, though. With the absence of Jozy Altidore, it leaves many questions to be asked as well as a vacancy to be filled. Chris Wondolowski has proven himself in qualifying and is great on set pieces. However, you know what you’re going to get with Wondo. He is in his 30s and does not possess pure attacking forward qualities. He is a poacher as some would say.

Aron Johannsson, on the other hand, is young and fast and can score off the ball as well as on set pieces, a strength of the Americans. The decision will lie within what formation Klinsmann will decide to deploy. If Klinsmann decides to go with a “false nine” approach, Wondolowski would be a good fit due to the amount of possession that will occur for the United States in the midfield. Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey will look to advance the ball slowly but safely and try to create chances off of set pieces, whether by free kicks or corners.

This is a difficult situation for the Americans without the presence of Altidore. I believe Klinsmann will end up starting Wondolowski at forward, but don’t be surprised if he ends up choosing the latter.

Collin Ruby is a Soccer Writer for, follow him on Twitter @Collin_Ruby.

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