The United States 2-1 victory over Ghana on Monday came at a heavy cost in the form of an injury to striker Jozy Altidore, who looks likely to be out of action for several weeks. The Sunderland forward is a one-of-a-kind player for the USA.
Klinsmann opted to leave the similarly styled Terrence Boyd home for this World Cup. The omission of Boyd means that United States Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann almost certainly has to change his tactical setup for Sunday’s match against Portugal.
Below are three different formations and starting XI possibilities for the United States in this match. Note that the backups listed are assigned to the positions by the program and are not my choices as reserves in the particular positions.
Option 1 (4-2-3-1 with wingers):
Move to more or less a 4-2-3-1, which places Graham Zusi on the left side of midfield with the ability to hug the touchline or push inside. This will give additional cover to the left-back, where I recommend changing to Timothy Chandler for the duration of the World Cup. Alejandro Bedoya continues on the right and Clint Dempsey is deployed as a sole striker up top. Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones provide a two-man shield in front of the back four.
Option 2 (4-2-3-1 compact):
This option would be more compact that the first option with Bedoya tucking in, Michael Bradley playing deeper in midfield (where by default he ended up most of the match against Ghana) and Jermaine Jones pushed to the left but again tucked inside. Mix Diskerud would become the central midfielder in the line of three behind Dempsey who is playing up front on his own. Any width in this formation would likely come from the fullbacks Timothy Chandler and Fabian Johnson pushing forward. Technically, Bedoya can also play in this role or Bradley could play here with Diskerud dropped further back or to the right. In fact, this formation and personnel choice may end up creating fluid movement in the midfield with interchanging positions for Bedoya/Diskerud/Bradley.
Option 3 (4-4-2 Diamond):
Similar formation to the Ghana game with Aron Johannsson (or Chris Wondolowski) replacing Altidore. This formation did not work well after the injury to Altidore on Monday and my guess is that Klinsmann will abandon it outright for the remainder of the tournament.
Sunday’s match between the United States and Portugal kicks off at 6pm ET/3pm PT on Univision and ESPN.