The Union dominated U-23 MNT

Since the U have such a large contingent (the largest of any team) at the most recent U-23 MNT team camp I thought I would spout off some of the things I have been reading about to make a desired line-up. The line-up will be slightly Union biased but a the same time from what I have been reading from Soccer by Ives and other sources I am not incredibly far off.

Caleb Porter, former University of Akron coach, has been implementing the "total football" 4-3-3 approach of a Barcelona-esq high-possession high-pressure system. I will base my line-up on this system.

Goalkeepers:Bill Hamid, Zach MacMath, Sean Johnson

Hamid is set to be the starter because of his experience with the senior national team. From everything I have read it is a two-way race between MacMath and Johnson for the backup position. The backup keeper (and hopefully Zach is included) will likely be decided in the upcoming friendlies in Costa Rica. More position breakdowns after the jump.

Starting Defense: Williams-Valentin-Wenger-Sarkodie/Villafana

Williams has appeared the strongest right back only to be trailed by Lancaster native Zarek Valentin. That being said before playing his rookie season at Chivas USA he played CB all through college, high school, and his youth squad.

The reason for the Valentin-Wenger combination is three-fold. One, Wenger has shown that while he is not the best CB at camp he is a top 3 choice. Secondly, Wenger is the most comfortable of the CB's on the ball as was developed by his playing forward the last two seasons for Duke. Thirdly, for years and years Valentin and Wenger have played as a CB pairing first on youth clubs as well as high school and I believe on one of the US youth national teams as well. That type of chemistry and understanding is not to be overlooked when creating a team of players from all over the country (and world if you include professional locations).

In terms of LB it will be a fight again in the two scrimmages between Sarkodie and Villafana. I really have no preference between the two but I have noticed that Villafana is a more reserved attacker while Sarkodie tends to drift forward more. Not as much as Williams but still forward.

Holding Midfielder: Amobi Okugo.

From all reports it is basically Okugo's job to lose. No one has performed as well as consistently on both sides of the ball as Okugo. Reports also indicate that he is strong at initiating the attack but is even better at the defensive side of the ball "breaking up chances for the senior team" (Ives).

Attacking Midfielders: Joe Corona/Freddy Adu, Dilly Duka

This is where things begin to get interesting. Brek Shea has not been called into the U-23 camps yet but has been playing with the senior team one of a number of players from the senior team that are eligible. If he fits into the 4-3-3 I frankly seem him playing on the left wing not in the midfield. Without a doubt I see Dilly Duka playing in this midfield. He played incredible well in the GA tour in Amsterdam (which also used a 4-3-3) and has performed well on the professional level and at U-23 camps. He is also a major threat as a set piece taker. (Both of his goals in Amsterdam were from set pieces and one of his two assists was from a set piece). The Joe Corona (pronounced some weird form of legit) and the Freddy Adu debate will take place in the forwards section.

Forwards: Brek Shea-Teal Bunbury-Freddy Adu/?

Probably the biggest issue Caleb Porter has to deal with is that he has 3 current and 1 former (Adu) senior team players to add into the fold. As I mentioned before I see Shea as more of a left winger in the 4-3-3 than a central midfielder, nothing really to base that on other than just watching him and a gut feeling. I have heard that while Jack Mac will likely not be a starter he has developed well as a wing striker and could be on the roster. Teal Bunbury has showed briefly for the U-23s and was dangerous at the center forward position when he was there. As a senior national teamer I believe it is his job to lose (unless Agudelo gets healthy and that would be interesting). On the right wing is where I find myself with the most debate. Porter has used Adu in both the midfield and right winger role. Frankly I think Adu is more suited to right winger role. However I am not in love with the quality of the attacking midfielders and I think Porter will place him in the midfield with Duka. If he does I see either Tony Taylor taking his spot or Aguedelo plays in the center and Bunbury gets pushed out wide.

What do you all think will be the "starting line-up" for the Olympic team? Keep in mind they have not deviated from the 4-3-3 and in all probability will not change that.

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