thumbnail Hello,

Although he already has an idea for a first-choice lineup, the U.S. coach acknowledged that some decisions have yet to be made on his World Cup XI.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Before each of the past two World Cup send-off series matches, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann gave fans and media a sneak peak at the next day's starting lineup during the public training sessions held the day before. On Friday, Klinsmann wasn't quite as forthcoming, though that may have been more a product of circumstance than design.

Brad Davis appeared to dealing with an injury early in Friday's practice, which left the U.S. team a player short for a full 11-on-11 practice drill. The result was Klinsmann running drills 10-on-10 with one player serving on both teams. This gave Klinsmann the opportunity to mix up lineups and make it that much tougher to figure out just who will get the call against Nigeria.

One thing Klinsmann made clear is that he is approaching the Nigeria friendly as one more audition for starting roles rather than his own chance to trot out the lineup he envisions taking on Ghana on June 16.

MORE: U.S. Soccer MVP rankings | USA vs. Turkey photos

"No we'll still use this game as seeing things and giving players an opportunity to be out on the field and fight for that spot," Klinsmann said. "Do we have a lineup in mind? Absolutely, every coach has that at this point. But still, this is why you have the send-off games, friendly games, to give minutes to players that are right there and you want to see them also perform.

"Once you go into the tournament you have three subs only, and those are hopefully very crucial ones, that you make the right choices, so you won't see exactly the lineup tomorrow that we'll have (against Ghana)."

U.S. SOCCER LATEST
Based on the groupings seen during Friday's practice at EverBank Field, the defense looks like it will be the unit expected to stay together heading into the World Cup, with DaMarcus Beasley at left back, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron in central defense, and Fabian Johnson at right back.

The central midfield was much more difficult to figure out, though. Michael Bradley was partnered with Kyle Beckerman quite a bit, suggesting Klinsmann could give that pairing a run-out after starting Jermaine Jones with Bradley in the first two send-off matches.

Another topic of conversation Friday was what formation we might see the U.S. team deploy against Nigeria. Klinsmann downplayed the talk of formations, insisting that systems aren't as important as team shape and organization.

"I think there are pros and cons, like with every system, but it doesn't really matter what shape we have, what system we have. It matters how we connect with one another on the field," Klinsmann said. "It's the same with just 10 men, we defend as a whole unit and you move forward, you keep it compact. No matter what shape it has in that instance, I think we can easily adjust to a 4-4-2 diamond, we can go from a diamond into a flat midfield four, we can go into a 4-2-3-1 which becomes a 4-3-3.

"I think all these discussions about different systems are actually not up to speed anymore, because systems are not the key anymore like it was maybe 10-15 years ago," Klinsmann added. "It all changed for the best teams in the world, led by Spain. They made every system look stupid because they came up with a 4-6-0 in the last European Championship and everybody said, 'How can you do that? Not even (striker Fernando) Torres is out there?' Well, they beat everybody in a 4-6-0 because three or four midfielders became strikers, then they go back and the others became strikers, and moved back, and it confused everybody.

"I think the trend is definitely to go away from the system discussion. It doesn't lead you anywhere, and you have a whole team that knows how to support each other, how to create stuff going forward," Klinsmann continued. "Years ago it was all down to the No. 10 to make things happen. Now it may be a No. 6 that makes things happen, or the fullbacks make things happen. So that all changed over the last year or so. It sounds always pretty cool when you talk about 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-4-2 diamond, but it's absolutely useless at the end of the day."

For Klinsmann, the team's formation isn't nearly as important as players coming together and learning how to work as a unit, irrespective of positions. That, coupled with continued fitness development and the conclusion of the final positional battles, will round out the team's World Cup preparations, which are far from over.

"We're still in the building phase, we still have 10 days to go, so we are not done now with all the work we're going to put into their legs and their mind and the challenges and restrictions that we play all our scrimmages with and excercises with. And that will still go on until after the Belgium scrimmage in Sao Paulo," Klinsmann said. "The players know that. They know they've still got to work to be ready."

Follow GOAL.COM on

Related

From the web