Jermaine Jones Injury Complicates USMNT Options Heading into the Azteca

March 24, 2013

Coming off a vital three-point effort from their win over Costa Rica in Colorado on Friday night, the United States Men’s National team now heads to Mexico City to take on Mexico in the famed Estadio Azteca on Tuesday night.

With the success of many of his lineup choices from Friday night, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is unlikely to make any major changes to his lineup. However, Jermaine Jones’ Twitter announcement on Sunday night that he is injured and heading home to Germany gives Klinsmann two big questions to answer.

Here are the big decisions Klinsmann will have to make as the U.S. takes its next big step in World Cup qualifying.

Who Does Klinsmann Start on the Back Line?

Against Costa Rica, the back line combination of Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, Omar Gonzalez and DaMarcus Beasley did quite well.

Heading into the match with Mexico, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have to decide whether or not he wants to tinker with that combination.

While DaMarcus Beasley and Clarence Goodson were surprisingly strong, the blizzard-like conditions in Colorado no doubt helped both of them. Neither Beasley nor Goodson are particularly adept 1 v. 1 defenders, but against Costa Rica, Beasley and Goodson didn’t have to worry about getting beat on the dribble because it was impossible to carry the ball for more than 10 yards in the snow.

Beasley was able to use his speed to catch and then clatter into the Costa Rican defenders while Goodson was able to use his height and strength to overpower and outmuscle the Costa Ricans for much of the match.

Against Mexico, it will be a whole different story. The pitch at Estadio Azteca will favor the speedy and skilled attackers of Mexico, as will the famed altitude and air quality challenges the Azteca offers.

So, what should Klinsmann do?

Beasley will probably keep his spot in the starting XI simply due to the lack of options at left-back. But Maurice Edu, who played at center-back in the U.S.’ win over Mexico at the Estadio Azteca in August, might replace Goodson.

Complicating the decision at center-back, however, is the news that Jermaine Jones will be unavailable for the Mexico match.

Because Edu is the most obvious choice to replace Jones in the midfield, Klinsmann may be hesitant to move Edu into the back line for Goodson.

Goodson could keep his spot, or Klinsmann could move Cameron into the middle and slot Edu or Beltran in at right-back.

The second big question that Klinsmann faces for Tuesday night is…

Who Does Klinsmann Start with Michael Bradley at Center Midfield?

With Jermaine Jones out, Klinsmann must make at least one change to the starting lineup, deciding who to slot into the center midfield position alongside USMNT stalwart Michael Bradley.

Assuming Klinsmann has finally learned the folly of the three defensive-midfielder setup that he tried unsuccessfully against both Jamaica and Honduras, Klinsmann essentially has four choices.

The first, and easiest, solution is to slot Maurice Edu into the lineup. Edu is a natural holding midfielder and since his move to Bursaspor, he has been playing regularly.

The second option would be to use Sacha Kljestan. Kljestan has been playing regularly, and well, for Anderlecht in Belgium and, like Bradley, plays well as a deep-lying midfielder. While not a traditional holding midfield in terms of his physicality or tackling, Kljestan does well holding possession and recycling the attack.

The third option would be to use Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman did play 90 minutes in the August win over Mexico, but Beckerman has often looked overmatched at the international level. Still, he is one of Klinsmann most favored players having played in 12 of Klinsmann’s 24 matches in charge.

The last, and most radical, option would be to use Joe Corona. Corona has been playing regularly as an attacking midfielder for Liga MX champions Tijuana. This option, however, remains the most unlikely because it is doubtful that Klinsmann would use such an aggressive attacking midfield combination facing Mexico in their own house.

John D. Halloran

2 Responses to Jermaine Jones Injury Complicates USMNT Options Heading into the Azteca

  1. DE Dupuis on March 25, 2013 at 6:37 am

    JD, been worried about you – hope all is well.

    I don’t know what the Ticos were thinking agreeing to start the game and then to continue it.
    I don’t know what FIFA was thinking allowing that soccer like activity to count as a WC qualifier.
    But – since it did go – it sure was fun to watch an old fashion slug fest.

    The only things I think we know for sure after the game is that – Guzon is a fine stand in for Timmy, and Jose and Deuce look a good pair.

    I would add, that yes Jones looked good, in a game were technical skill and ball retention counted for next to nothing.

    Although it was nice to beat the Ticos, the set up for the Azteca really could not be worse with our team crippled and Mex really needing to win.

    Welcome back

    • John D. Halloran on March 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Doing well, thank you. Writing for Bleacher Report five days a week is making it tough to keep AT up to date.

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