So with the injuries to Brooks/Lletget, Jermaine Jones now being available, and concerns (mine) over whether or not Dempsey can/should start again tonight, what are everyone's thoughts on the lineup choice against Panama?
I'm legitimately excited to see what Arena decides to do. Does he go more defensive, basically swapping out a creative attacker (Dempsey) for a midfield destroyer (Jones)? That would likely mean putting Altidore up top on an island again, which we know tends to not work. Does he move Pulisic out wide? What does he do in the back with Cameron a little nicked up and Brooks out?
Just a complete guess, but I think Bruce takes a more pragmatic approach at the start with a 4-5-1, and goes back to many of the experienced "old faithfuls":
D: Zusi, Cameron, Besler, Beasley
M: Bradley, Jones, Bedoya, Pulisic, Nagbe
Omar Gonzalez did not look great against Honduras, and I trust Cameron much more in the middle. That leaves the only right back choice to be Zusi, who is an experienced CONCACAF player. Same goes with Beasley over Villafana - Bruce trusts Beasley in a spot like this, but Villafana played well against Honduras. As far as the replacement for Brooks, it could be Ream, but Besler has been in these spots more often.
In the midfield, I see Jones and Bradley teaming up at CDM, with Pulisic above them to create. The CDM pairing hasn't always worked, but I think that was mostly due to Jurgen flip-flopping their roles - Bradley needs to stay put and allow Jermaine to bomb forward, like he loves to do. Bedoya can do the dirty work to slow down the Panama attack, while I see Pulisic and Nagbe as the creators in this formation. That leaves Altidore up top as the target man.
As the game progresses, especially if a goal is needed, I would be shocked if Dempsey does not make an appearance. He would likely replace Bedoya, shifting formationally back to a 4-4-2.