U.S. team all about the numbers 

September, 6, 2011

Soccer is notoriously hard to quantify, but in at least one area for the U.S. national team -- jerseys -- the numbers don't lie: Jurgen Klinsmann has completely transformed the squad.

Against Costa Rica on Friday, one only had to look at Carlos Bocanegra for evidence. The Yanks captain donned the No. 5 shirt, a striking change after seeing him line up for years wearing No. 3.

It's part of a new Klinsmann policy that's likely to continue in today's match against Belgium and into the foreseeable future. U.S. players no longer have their names on their backs, nor may they lay claim to an individual number. Instead, starters are given jerseys 1 through 11, and those numbers are traditionally -- and strictly -- associated with their positions. For instance, the starting keeper is always No. 1, the right back No. 2, the holding midfielder No. 6, and the attackers Nos. 9, 10 and 11.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.