USMNT Projected Starting XI Vs. Panama


The USMNT January camp comes to an end this weekend with a friendly vs. Panama. This was a great opportunity, especially for the newcomers, to show Jurgen Klinsmann that they belong on the big stage, and they will have one last shot to show it.

Two friendlies were scheduled to accompany this camp. The first came about a week and a half ago against Chile which ended in a 3-2 loss. The USMNT will be looking for a better result against a CONCACAF foe in Panama. The game is taking place at the Stubhub Center in Los Angeles at 4PM EST.

So who starts for the USMNT against Panama? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

Against Chile, some players looked to help their cause for starting this game, and some hurt their cause. Two of the newcomers that really impressed were Steve Birnbaum and Gyasi Zardes, but unfortunately Birnbaum will not be playing due to a minor knee injury.

ESPN’s Doug McIntyre reported earlier that Nick Rimando will start in goal for the USMNT, so that is one thing to look forward to considering their record with Rimando in goal. The other 10 positions on the field though, along with the formation, are still unknown to us.

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For the sake of predicting a starting XI, I am going to go with a 3-5-2, in part because I think it deserves another shot as it did show glimpses of being successful. So let’s get to this, shall we?

The three man backline will have Besler on the left, Jones in the middle and Matt Hedges on the right. One, I do not believe Jones should be playing center back, but it is clear that Klinsmann wants him there. Two, Besler on the left makes the most sense out of any of the defenders currently available. And three, Matt Hedges deserves this opportunity, especially since Birnbaum is out due to injury.

Yedlin and Shea are really the only two wing backs on the roster. Shea was horrendous against Chile for two reasons. One, he lacked fitness which hopefully is a little better now at least. And two, Shea lacked defensive instincts. He made some poor decisions as well as simply not making the effort on defense.

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  • In normal call ups, someone like Greg Garza or Fabian Johnson would be a much better option. Yedlin has his share of defensive issues too, but his effort and speed does make up for his flaws. In the middle of the field, I think Wil Trapp will get a shot to start.

    Trapp looked shaky in his substitute appearance against Chile, but with the nerves cleared away, he will perform much better. Lee Nguyen deserves a chance to start in his playmaking role to see what he can do for the course of a game, and Bradley should assume his normal workhorse type box to box role.

    Up front, Gyasi Zardes really impressed me in his short time against Chile so he deserves a start. Likely that would come with Altidore next to him. I don’t think Zardes is fully an Altidore type player. He is a bigger striker, but he plays well playing off of someone.

    Whether or not this right, or even close to being right, remains to be seen. For all I know, all I got right is that Nick Rimando is starting in goal (and that is only because that has been reported). Who do you think should be starting? Let us know below!

    Next: Why Jermaine Jones Continues to Play Defender