U.S. coach Bob Bradley chose a roster in which several players could play one of several positions. Here are five formation combinations the U.S. team could use (formations don't include the goalie):
This is the formation most teams will use in the World Cup. It provides flexibility on offense and defense. However, it could leave Onyewu and DeMerit on islands when teams counterattack. The U.S. team may use this against Slovenia and Algeria. You may also see Dempsey up top with Altidore, with DaMarcus Beasley sliding into the right midfield spot. Maurice Edu, a defensive midfielder, could supplant Torres against England, a game in which the U.S. team likely will not see much of the ball.
This is a defensive-minded formation designed to disrupt passing lanes and control space. It could also help the U.S. team counterattack because with five midfielders it's easier for one to get the ball and connect with another up field quickly. It's unlikely to be used because Bradley likes two strikers, but the U.S. may try it for a while against England. If it's not working, either Dempsey or Donovan can move up top with Altidore.
This formation would see the midfielders play back and Bocanegra and Cherundolo go forward up the wings to connect with Donovan, Dempsey and Altidore. This is an intriguing possibility for the U.S. team because DeMerit and Onyewu are strong against the crosses that will invariably come if the outside backers are caught up field. Holden and Edu would support the flanks. Bradley is a good shooter from long range.
This is an attacking formation that the U.S. team could also use, featuring four players going forward. This is also an interesting possibility, especially considering how well Torres played against Turkey. His passes could make Donovan and Dempsey dangerous coming in from the wings or Bradley with long-range shots.
An offensive-minded formation. The U.S. team would use this only if circumstances are dire and goals are needed.