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If the USMNT is going to get blown out by Argentina, they should do it with fun players

On the eve of the U.S. Soccer's impossible task against Argentina, Jurgen Klinsmann has a choice: bunker in, or go for broke with a new generation of young attacking players.

Dear Jurgen,

Congratulations on the stellar string of results that put our beloved U.S. Men's National Team in the semifinals of the Copa América Centenario! It’s a stunning turnaround from the tournament-opening loss to Colombia that made U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati — ordinarily one of your staunchest supporters — admit that your future employment was no sure thing. No longer, though: nothing lifts the Sword of Damocles like positive results, especially if they achieve the lofty goals many thought were unattainable.

You stated before the tournament that your goal was to reach the semifinals, and now here you are, flush with house money. And because your opponent is the top-ranked team in the world starring the best player ever born, you are free from the expectations of a result. As if the challenge weren’t steep enough, you’ll be missing three critical starters: Diligent winger Alejandro Bedoya, midfield stalwart Jermaine Jones and striker Bobby Wood, whose pace has opened up the field for a resurgent Clint Dempsey.

You’re probably tempted to fill those spots with MLS veterans you’ve relied upon in years past: Graham Zusi on the wing, Kyle Beckerman as a defensive midfielder, Chris Wondolowski up top. Each is a known quantity with a relatively low ceiling (Beckerman in particular evokes images of Lionel Messi setting dreadlocks ablaze and gliding onward to goal). This would be a safe strategy, the one that is most likely to deliver an excruciating match in which Argentina holds the vast majority of possession but struggles to break through the bus parked in front of the American goal. It is a strategy built with the hope that the United States can survive 90 minutes of shelling and emerge from penalty kicks the winner. It is the strategy that required Tim Howard to make a World Cup-record 16 saves against Belgium and still resulted in a loss (it's no accident Howard spent his final games at Everton saying only "Hodor").

Here you are, flush with house money

But there is another way: Roll the dice with your young attacking talent. The exact formation and personnel are up to you, of course, but a more dangerous and free-flowing lineup would almost certainly include Darlington Nagbe, a creative playmaker who should probably be in your first-choice starting XI anyway. It may include Fabian Johnson starting not as a defender but in midfield, where he played (and scored) in the Champions League last season. (Jurgen, I don't like that "play your best players at their natural positions" qualifies as go-for-broke advice to you.) And, though it may be a bridge too far to start a 17-year-old in a major tournament, you should have major minutes allotted for Christian Pulisic, a phenom whose talent and pedigree match his overwhelming hype.

(Here is where I would also advocate for playing Jordan Morris up top in Wood's absence, but for the second consecutive major international tournament, you didn't include a like-for-like replacement for Dempsey's strike partner on your roster. I do hope, for all of our sakes, that whoever replaces Wood in the lineup fares better than the "Clint Dempsey plus no one" attack you used when Jozy Altidore was lost to injury in the last World Cup.)

Now, if I were to take you at your word (not necessarily a wise investment of faith), I'd think that you and I have the same tactical outlook. As you said after the group stage:

"The old story is the underdog story, and I cannot hear that story anymore. I want to see them risk things. Let's go for it! Because if you're not going for it, sooner or later they're going to break you down because they have class players that will give you one or two [goals]."

Unfortunately, this is where there's a communication disconnect between you and everyone who follows the USMNT. Because when you say, "Let's go for it," I — and many American fans — expect that to mean "Let's start the most talented players in a lineup designed to make them succeed!" But what I've learned from watching this team and your inscrutable lineups is that "Let's go for it!" means "I'm going to start players with known ceilings and expect them to play better than that." So you'll forgive me for having doubts.

there's a communication disconnect between you and everyone who follows the USMNT

But perhaps you've turned a corner. Fans long begged you to settle on a center back pairing, and you finally decided on the most obvious one in Geoff Cameron and the heroic John Brooks. We asked for consistency in the starting lineup, and you actually put out the same starting XI for three consecutive matches. These are heartening trends, and I'll try to stay happily myopic in looking at the team's recent history, because the disastrous loss to Guatemala in World Cup qualifying was less than three months ago. (Oops, and now I'm mentioning last summer's embarrassing fourth-place finish in the Gold Cup. That sucked, by the way.)

On Tuesday night, you have a unique opportunity to push soccer in America forward — not with a win, but with the attractive style you promised when you accepted the job. Casual sports fans will be drawn in by the promise of Messi and the elevated stage of a knockout round. Your team will face off against a true soccer Goliath, and you should fittingly adopt David tactics: Play your brightest rising stars. Showcase the foundation of the next World Cup squad. I would rather watch Argentina outclass the U.S. in a free-flowing 4-2 loss than endure a bunkered-in USMNT striving to lose 1-0, and so would the rest of the country.

You have nothing to lose. Why not?

In Deuce We Trust,