This isn't a tourism guide. It's a list of wrinkles to be experimented with against Jamaica Friday night.
1. Mix it up
Mix Diskerud is such a tease. He can't really help it though, considering he's continually shifted from an out-and-out attacking mid position to a deeper-lying playmaker alongside a more traditional No. 6.
It says here that Jurgen Klinsmann should start him next to Kyle Beckerman or Geoff Cameron and let him be the latter, at least to start. Really, it's the perfect scenario to try him out there. The competition is better than that of the Gold Cup, where he excelled, the first choice player who he most closely replicates, Michael Bradley, is out and Jamaica's speed and physicality across the pitch will test him on the ball while narrowing the passing lanes he works off of it.
Sink or swim. No floaties.
That means don't play him behind the striker where he'll inevitably end up swapped out with Landon Donovan. Let him try to be the match-pacer from deep.
If it works, then a Michael Bradley suspension next summer just got a little easier to stomach. If it doesn't, we'll have all learned something depending on how much and to what degree Diskerud fumbles with the keys to the car.
Now obviously he'll have to adjust to in-game formation changes, so he can't be pigeonholed deep. At some point in the match he will need to be a bustling box-to-box man. This actually leads us nicely to our next point.
The danger of this national team will be most fully realized when it consistently shows multiple ways to beat the same opponents. It's getting there, it really is. But again, Jamaica proves a perfect guinea pig at this juncture.
The Reggae Boyz are more athletic than they are technical and the U.S. will try to break the visitors down in combination play. Fine. Duh. Plan A. Go for it.
But then come back to that fork in the road and just bully Jamaica. The U.S. is going to run into similarly physical teams next summer, better ones too and a little slugging gut check could go a long way toward making sure those teams get beat too.
So after affirming the technical gap with a goal or two, go straight through Jamaica. Have Altidore bully his markers. Launch balls to the corners and ask Donovan or whoever's chasing them to win what will amount to 50-50 battles. Put Aron Johannsson next to Jozy Alidore in a classic big man-little man strike tandem. Go for the throat down Route 1.
Of course, elements of both game plans are present in the way the U.S. already approaches any match and it is a little greedy to ask the team to beat Jamaica twice over. But this is a quasi-dead rubber qualifier -- a perfect time to make overzealous demands.
3. Two wingers
OK, there aren't two wingers in the 20-man roster. But give the people Donovan on one flank and Alejandro Bedoya on the other. Ideally it'd be DaMarcus Beasley and the 2006 World Cup wouldn't have sucked either.
Digressing, a quick player who can go at defenders and serve a mean ball will do. Play someone who can solidly pretend to look natural stretching the field width-wise. There is room for Sacha Kljestan in this XI, but it's in one of three central spots, not either of the two wide ones.
This doesn't mean chase through balls for 90 minutes. No, both should be able to invert, rotate, play a little No. 10 or even pop up top. That being said, Jamaica does need to be under constant threat of someone blowing the doors off a given flank for 90 minutes.
- Jacob Klinger