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Jun 12, 2014

Put me in, coach

US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is urging his side to make a winning start to their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign against Ghana on Monday.

U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has proved adept at on-the-fly lineup adjustments. Take May's tuneup friendly against Azerbaijan. The U.S., listless for much of the night, broke the game open with scores by subs Mix Diskerud (75th minute) and Aron Johannsson (81st) for a 2-0 win. Diskerud is a likely sub in several situations.

Here are five bench players who could have a big impact for the Stars and Stripes in the World Cup:

MF Brad Davis
Off: MF Alejandro Bedoya
Situation: Down 1-0, 60 minutes, need a draw


Against the likes of Portugal and Germany, where the U.S. might struggle for possession and chances, a free kick outside the box could be the best route to an equalizer. Enter Davis. The midfielder's left foot makes him a dangerous dead-ball specialist. His corner kick assist in May's friendly against Azerbaijan gave the U.S. a game-killing two-goal lead in the 81st minute and was praised as "fantastic" by Klinsmann postgame.

1.5
In six games as a sub since 2013, Davis ranks first among U.S. subs in assists (1.5 per 90 minutes) and second in chances (4.9).


MF Kyle Beckerman
Off: MF Graham Zusi
Situation: Up 2-1, 80 minutes, need a win


The Yanks have had their share of late-game heroics, but they have also let early leads slip away. April's 2-2 draw with Mexico was the latest of three matches since 2013 that the U.S. failed to close out after taking a lead or tie into the halftime locker room. Beckerman is most efficient when the veteran center mid can sit directly in front of his defense, breaking up opponents' attacks and then distributing the ball upfield.

8.8
Beckerman has averaged 8.8 interceptions per 90 minutes in two games as a sub since 2013. Next best sub? John Brooks (3.6).


F Chris Wondolowski
Off: F Clint Dempsey
Situation: Pregame injury


Dempsey says Klinsmann's decision to start Wondolowski over the captain against Azerbaijan in May was purely precautionary. But if Dempsey's groin injury flares up again, Klinsmann likely would look to Wondo as a spot starter. The rangy 6-foot-1 striker enters the Cup in fine form, leading the U.S. with three goals (on just six shots) in 2014 and tallying five goals in nine games this season for the San Jose Earthquakes.

1.0
In his three friendlies this year, Wondo is the only U.S. player with a 1.0 GPG average, and his 
1.7 shots on goal per game is also a team high.

Chris Wondolowski and Aron Johannsson provide firepower for the U.S. off the bench.


MF Julian Green
Off: DF DaMarcus Beasley
Situation: Tied 1-1, 80 minutes, need a win


Despite a lack of experience at the senior level, the 19-year-old midfielder might be Klinsmann's choice for a last-gasp sub late in a game. Green's speed and ball skill can change a match, particularly against a tired defense. Klinsmann has pointed to a pair of plays in friendlies against Mexico and Turkey -- both of which could have resulted in penalty kicks -- as evidence of how Green can create goal-scoring opportunities.

24
In two substitute appearances in 2014, Green averaged a team-best 23.9 touches per 90 minutes in the attacking third.


F Aron Johannsson
Off: MF Jermaine Jones
Situation: Down 2-0, 45 minutes, need a draw


Remember 2010, when the U.S. trailed Slovenia 2-0 at halftime in what would become a 2-2 draw? Should the Yanks find themselves in another early hole, Klinsmann has options to inject a dose of creativity. AZ Alkmaar striker Johannsson and Rosenborg midfielder Mix Diskerud have verve and vision. They're willing to take chances and are able to finish­ -- three of the pair's five goals for the U.S. have come on the edges of the 6-yard box.

2.5
In his two WCQ appearances as a sub, Johannsson notched the WC roster's best rate per 90 in goals (2.5) and shots (4.9).

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