It’s Wednesday, people—just three days out from U.S.-England, and our World Cup Fever is now officially > our Bieber Fever.
Which is saying something, because there is no cure for Bieber Fever—if you doubt it, click here (sorry about the ad at the start).
So who should the U.S. start against the Three Lions on Saturday? Here’s our take:
Tim Howard. Uh, yep.
Steve Cherundolo. In better form than Spector right now; poised veteran.
Jay DeMerit. We actually think he matches up well with Wayne Rooney, on a physical level, anyway. Athletic scrapper.
Oguchi Onyewu. We’re not sure he’s 100% yet, but we don’t want to face England with Clarence Goodson in the heart of the defense.
Carlos Bocanegra. Best left back option.
Outlook: All kinds of problems here. Not a particularly speedy group, and Onyewu is still rounding into form. Could Bradley throw—gulp—Jonathan Bornstein, his fastest defender, out there for more cover against ultra-quick England winger Aaron Lennon?
Clint Dempsey. Most reliable big-game player on the team, he will bring it.
Michael Bradley. Ball-winner, attack-squelcher, and he can get forward and score goals. Has a tendency to overheat and draw cards, though.
Maurice Edu. Many of the same qualities as Bradley but more skilled and a better passer.
Landon Donovan. They’ve heard of him in England.
Outlook: We like this group; every player is proven at the highest level. Bradley has shown a preference for the Ricardo Clark-Michael Bradley pairing in the middle, and may well go with that versus England, but we think Edu is a better option: He breaks up attacks just as well, and is a better passer than Clark. But as Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney argues here, in detail, Clark is not without a number of underappreciated attributes.
Jozy Altidore. Latest reports have him on target to recover in time from his recent ankle sprain. He’s a trial for any defender.
Robbie Findley. We were his biggest doubters two weeks ago, and yet now we think he’s ready. (We are more fickle than a restless sea.) Findley flubbed two clear chances in the tuneup against Australia this past Saturday, but that just means he’ll collect himself and put them away in the next game, right? Right.
Outlook: Charlie Davies will be hugely missed, obviously. The crop of U.S. forwards in South Africa is strikingly inexperienced (and the most blooded of the group, Altidore, is only 20 years old) and facing England in a World Cup opener is a baptism by fire, if not napalm.
On the other hand, Findley and especially Edson Buddle looked like they were playing with the house’s money on Saturday against Australia: Taking guys on, full of confidence, and in Buddle’s case, bagging two goals. They have nothing to lose, and seem fired up to just play loose and go for it.
Here’s another option: Bradley starts the in-form Buddle alongside the speedy Findley, thereby giving him a hot goal-scorer, and a speedster to keep England’s backline on notice—something he might want from the get-go in this high-pressure affair.
Then he has the option of bringing on The Handful that Is Jozy Altidore against a fatigued England backline in the second half. Hmmmm.
Anyway, that’s just us spitballing. What’s your ideal lineup to face England? Let us know in the comments.