Starting position battles on USMNT

Who will get the starting nod at left back and left midfield at the World Cup?

Updated: June 4, 2014, 7:00 PM ET
By Adrian Melville | ESPN Insider

Brad Davis and Alejandro BedoyaGetty ImagesWill Jurgen Klinsmann start Brad Davis or Alejandro Bedoya in the U.S. midfield in Brazil?
HARRISON, N.J. -- The United States' 2-1 victory over Turkey on Sunday reflected another relatively positive performance from a group of players that appears to be growing more as a team every day. The game also highlighted the competitions that exist in certain positions in the U.S. starting XI.

At this point, starting position battles are less about club form and more about how the players are performing in training and warm-up games. As the United States now heads to Jacksonville, Fla., for its final send-off match against Nigeria -- a game that Jurgen Klinsmann continues to insist will be the best preparation for the World Cup opener against Ghana -- there remain position battles in the U.S. starting XI that have yet to be determined, particularly on the left side of the field.

After the Turkey match it appears relatively clear that Jozy Altidore is Klinsmann's forward choice (opposite Clint Dempsey) over Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski. And for now most signs point to Jermaine Jones starting over Kyle Beckerman in the holding midfield role.

However, both the left back and the left midfield positions appear to be up for grabs, with Timmy Chandler and DaMarcus Beasley competing at left back, while Brad Davis and Alejandro Bedoya are competing for the attacking midfield role opposite Graham Zusi.

Who will Klinsmann start in Brazil? Here's a look at both position races, with a breakdown of each player's strengths and weaknesses followed by who's got the edge based on recent friendlies, positional need and system fit.

Left midfield


Contenders: Brad Davis, Alejandro Bedoya

While both Bedoya and Davis are competing for a starting position on the left side of midfield, the positioning of the wide players in Klinsmann's 4-4-2 diamond -- which appears to be the favored formation heading into Brazil -- means more defensively than it does in the attack, and so the competition has more to do with each player's ability to connect with the other attackers and create chances for the team as a whole.