Jurgen Klinsmann is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, tied with a puzzle bow. Guessing what he will do for any given match is tough because he is a relentless tinkerer who always seems to be switching things up. (The exception, of course, was during Copa America, when he astonishingly used the same lineup three matches in a row, which had not been done since 1930.) Complicating things more, Klinsmann has a couple players dealing with injury or bad form, which will shake things up.
When the USMNT faces Mexico on Friday (7 p.m. ET on FS1), we can see Klinsmann trotting out a familiar 4-4-2 formation. Although a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 could bolster the midfield, the USMNT has seemed to produce best with two strikers up top.
Tim Howard, goalkeeper
No suspense here. Klinsmann already said Howard would start and he seems to be the best option on the roster.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY SportsIsaiah J. Downing
Fabian Johnson, left back
There's an argument to be made that Johnson would be best suited in the midfield, where he plays for Borussia Mönchengladbach. But Klinsmann seems to favor putting him in the left back spot and allowing him to push forward and assist the attack.
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
John Brooks, center back
Another non-surprise. He's long been a lock in this role and one of the best players for the Americans during Copa America.
Getty ImagesShaun Clark
Omar Gonzalez, center back
When it became clear that usual center back Geoff Cameron would be injured for Friday's game, attention turned to who could replace him. Klinsmann has a few options here, but Gonzalez is perhaps the best one. Gonzalez did fall out of favor with Klinsmann for Copa America, which was somewhat surprising since Gonzalez has been a key player for the Americans over the years. But his form with Pachuca has been quite good and there's a good chance he gets the nod.
This may be a bit of a wildcard, but Klinsmann has expressed concerns about DeAndre Yedlin struggling in the last two camps the Americans. Yedlin has long been the go-to right back, but the USMNT manager may be willing to give someone else the start there. Klinsmann is a fan of Besler, who has been pretty reliable, and Klinsmann has been comfortable using Besler across the back line when needed.
Getty ImagesGetty Images
Christian Pulisic, left wing
Although Pulisic plays on the right wing for Borussia Dortmund, he has played on the left for the Americans and will probably be moved there again so Alejandro Bedoya can take the right. Pulisic is only 18 years old, but he is already one of the best players the Americans have.
Michael Bradley, central midfield
There is no chance a healthy and fit Bradley does not start for the USMNT. None.
Joe NicholsonJoe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jermaine Jones, central midfield
A favorite of Klinsmann's, Jones is just getting back to full fitness after months injured. He made his first start since July over the weekend for the Colorado Rapids, and came off in the 83rd minute after very noticeably running out of gas. At his best, he is a dominating physical presence that could help shut down a strong Mexican midfield. Although Sacha Kljestan has made a strong case to start, it's difficult to see Klinsmann not starting Jones. It's also difficult to see Klinsmann not going with two strikers up top, which could've created a third central midfield spot for Kljestan.
This content is subject to copyright.AFP/Getty Images
Alejandro Bedoya, right wing
Julian Green has done just about everything he could do to try to push for this spot, but Klinsmann has favored Bedoya for a long time. Against a tough Mexico team, Bedoya should offer more help in tracking back and a better defensive presence. Green makes an intriguing super-sub option with his quick speed and the confident, aggressive style of play he has showed off in recent USMNT appearances.
Getty ImagesShaun Clark
There's not much to question here. Altidore has been in excellent form for both club and country over the last couple months and he is the best striker the Americans have.
USA TODAY SportsKevin Sousa
The question surrounding Wood's inclusion is whether or not Klinsmann will go with his favored 4-4-2 with two strikers up top. If he does, Wood is the obvious choice to line up with Altidore. If Klinsmann switches things up for a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 with one striker up top, then Wood will be relegated to the bench.
Altidore-Wood Bedoya-Bradley-Jones-Pulisic Johnson-Gonzalez-Brooks-Besler Howard