First, we will just run out the 23, in the reveal order for this version of my depth chart. The as-of-now line-up, specifics on decision and wrinkles after.
Howard, Guzan, Rimando
Goodson, Gonzalez, Onyewu
Last men cut: Ream (who goes into the 23 if Lichaj is slow to return from injury), Edu, Kljestan, Shea, Boyd. Next week, we could have a lot more to say about Green. Other than him, I am not sure the Mexico friendly will have much impact on this clipboard.
So...moving Johnson to left back and Donovan to that same flank go hand-in-hand. In my mind, the first switch requires the second (and is a considerably-sized reason Beasley jumped a spot to now hold the left wing back-up place). Even if he is playing fairly well defensively, FabJo will need some help. Williams being the more stay-at-home midfielder on his line also provides a little more protection for the greener duo (at this top level) of Johnson and Besler.
Conversely, Bradley being on the right helps Cameron and Zusi get up their wing for crossing. Mikey also loves to fill those empty channels with late runs into the box, so this side could prove nice to him, with Zusi typically pulling his defender wide and the left center back far more concerned with Altidore or Deuce, if not also the oft-wandering Donovan.
You may also notice a slight lean to the right where builds are concerned. The thought is it might be helpful to the types of runs and combos our boys like to get the defense slightly off-center, perhaps getting Donovan and Johnson more space. Of course, the opponent may resist this, with any overplay having the opposite but also exploitable effect of granting the extra space to the guys more likely to hit flank crosses (Zusi and Cameron. Hey, Donovan can be a playmaker or a weak side target/capitalist - I am perfectly fine with either notion. The team tends to lean right going upfield anyway, tends to collapse to the area on the left and already tends to ship most of its crosses from the right, so there everyone should be right in their comfort zone. At the same time, the channels most likely to be run by foul magnets Dempsey, Johnson, Donovan and Altidore also happen to lie in the sweetest free kick areas.
You may think this is a lot of emphasis on attack, but trust me, some goals will be needed to advance. Whatever the wrinkle, something is needed in this group. It has to be subtle, and it has to help even when it does not actually work. My best idea with this particular line-up is that tiny attempt at an illusion. Because tricks are what a whore does for money.... or candy.
As for the subs, I find Jones, AJ, Mix, DMB and Bedoya combine to make up a very handy toolbox for making real impact off the bench. The same could be said for Gonzo and Gooch, as well as a fit Lichaj. Parkhurst and Beckerman provide more of a steadying hand, as the plan goes.
- Greg Seltzer