With the US Men's National Team set to square off against Germany in a decisive group play match tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM CST, I wanted to be a little creative and patriotic with this post. Earlier in the World Cup, I saw the Rams post Greg Zuerlein's All-Rams starting eleven, and I will admit that I was quite intrigued by the idea. Below, you will find my Cardinals starting eleven. I chose a 4-4-2 formation because, admittedly, it is my favorite one to use in the FIFA video game. Also, with the two speed threats in the outside midfield positions (Peter Bourjos, Kolten Wong), the 4-4-2 will likely have some extra firepower in the attacking end. I like scoring goals.
My Starting XI:
Some reasoning behind my selections:
Unlike Jurgen Klinsmann, I will provide the thought process behind my lineup selections so that I am better suited to handle criticisms later (PS, I am and likely always will be a big Klinsmann fan, so I am obviously just poking fun at him here).
Joe Kelly (GK):
You are probably wondering why I chose to put one of the team's fastest and most versatile players in net. Well, there is a method to my madness. I went to the source and this is what I received in return:
Would Kelly have been good in the midfield? Yep. Would he have been good up top? Yep. But, when the man speaks, I tend to listen. His athleticism and overall craziness are two desired traits that will help him become a top-notch goalkeeper.
Sam Freeman (DL):
To be an effective corner defenseman at the highest level, it is ideal to have both speed and athleticism. Freeman, in limited major league experience, has already shown that he has both. Plus, heads-up plays like this one are greatly appreciated as well.
Jon Jay (DR):
After just getting finished saying that it is ideal to have speed at a corner defensive spot, I throw Jay on the right side of the defensive line. Sure, he isn't the most fleet of foot, but his "The U" mentality, combined with proven endurance, makes him a good fit for this spot, in my opinion. Plus, knowing the undying energy level of El Gallo, I wouldn't be surprised if he consistently fell back to help the defense when necessary as well.
Matt Holliday (DC):
If you were an opposing forward, would you want to go head-to-head on a 50-50 ball with the 240-pound Holliday? Yeah, I wouldn't either:
Adam Wainwright (DC):
Wainwright's Team USA pride automatically earned him a spot in the starting eleven. The next question was where he fit best on the pitch. His height made him an attractive choice for either striker or center back, and ultimately, I chose center back because I am taking advantage of the chemistry he shares with Holliday. A delightful local media scribe may question his #priorities, but who are we to judge if he gets the job done?
Peter Bourjos (ML) & Kolten Wong (MR):
Speed. Speed. And more speed. As I discussed in the opening paragraph, the threat both Bourjos and Wong provide on the offensive end cannot be achieved by any other player on the roster.
Matt Carpenter (MC):
As Matt Sebek would say, Carpenter has "all of the tools" to be a successful center midfielder. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in craftiness. His ability to play multiple positions on the baseball diamond makes him an ideal candidate for such a versatile position. Plus, his initials are MC, so it works out perfectly.
Carlos Martinez (MC):
El Gallo? Tsunami? Both are equally solid nicknames for soccer broadcasters to use in my opinion. He may not be the biggest guy (6'0", 185 pounds), but he would truly be a "real bundle of energy" (Shaun Wright Phillips FIFA 08 reference) out there on the pitch. I can only imagine what Ian Darke would sound like as Martinez makes a comparable play like this one:
Trevor Rosenthal (FC):
Every successful team needs a quality finisher. Though Rosenthal has looked shaky finishing games at times this season, no one can forget the success he had on the biggest stage last October. Dial up the intensity of the moment (aka the World Cup), and I think Rosenthal's performance will quickly follow suit.
Oscar Taveras (FC):
At 6'2", 200 pounds, I feel bad for opposing defenses assigned the tough task of marking Taveras, especially during corner kicks, set pieces, and live crosses. His ability in the air, combined with brute strength not usually seen on the pitch, is what makes Taveras an ideal candidate at striker. Sure, he is in Triple-A right now, but I am not about to underutilize one of the organization's best assets when it matters most.
I really wanted to give Jaime Garcia a chance to crack the starting eleven, and even though I am excluding current injuries (i.e. Wong), I still question Garcia's durability for the length of such an important tournament. What are your thoughts on my starting eleven? Surprising inclusions? Controversial exclusions?
USA: "I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!" (ESPN 2014 FIFA World Cup Commercial) (via Sporti.st)