HOUSTON – The easy picks are Kyle Beckerman, Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi and Eddie Johnson, all of whom seem lead pipe locks to start Tuesday against Canada.
(Let’s make that “overmatched” Canada – but that’s another story.)
Based on what I saw last night at the public practice, on what I’ve heard from the three weeks of workouts at the Home Depot Center and on, well, just some good, old-fashioned dart throwing, this is my best guess on how Jurgen Klinsmann will line up his men for tonight’s 8 p.m. CT kickoff in Houston.
Apologies, right away, on the completely lame lack of guess at goalkeeper. Tally Hall was especially strong early in the camp, from what I understand, but Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid caught up and, well, each one has been as solid as the other two. Being honest, I have no idea.
(MORE: Omar Gonzalez more confident)
(MORE: Appearance and reality on Klinsmann’s harsh words)
- There aren’t a lot of natural outside backs in camp, so Tony Beltran and Justin Morrow are great bets to play at some point, if they don’t start.
- LA Galaxy veteran A.J. DeLaGarza has mostly been working as a center back in camp, but we know he can also play on the right. That’s where his previous caps were earned. So he could wind up anywhere along the back line. But I do expect Matt Besler to get his first cap alongside Gonzalez in the middle of the U.S. defense.
- Brad Davis is one of the more experienced men in camp, even if he has just five U.S. caps and no time previously under Klinsmann. Still, considering the lack of midfield options here in Houston, and since this is the Dynamo man’s hometown and home stadium, I like him to start.
- Beckerman has played 11 times under Klinsmann, including seven starts. He’s been the undisputed camp leader. He’ll be in the first 11.
- Zusi could find himself along the right as we saw him last year, although that was in a 4-3-3 look, which is a different set of responsibilities. With Zusi in the middle, the possibilities along the right include Gatt, Brad Evans, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud and Benny Feilhaber. Clearly, the attack structure would look different with “wingers” like Gatt or Bedoya out there, as opposed guys who want to lean inside, like Diskerud, Evans or Feilhaber.
- Remember, Gatt closed out 2012 in the starting lineup in the U.S. draw with Russia. And by most accounts, that was a good day for the winger.
- Johnson and Juan Agudelo are the two most talented strikers in camp, although Chris Wondolowski will almost certain get on the field at some point.
It isn’t Dortmund, but that’s a good thing for Liverpool.
Our own Joe Prince-Wright was on the scene for Jurgen Klopp’s unveiling as the latest Reds manager, and the 48-year-old German had a lot to say.
Perhaps most poignant for Liverpool fans are Klopp’s words on the talent he inherits from Brendan Rodgers. Sure there are quips that will hit the headlines, but how about Klopp’s assertion that success shouldn’t take nearly as long as his dramatic work at BVB.
From JPW on Merseyside:
“We did in Dortmund what we had to do, to improve the players, to work for a common idea of play. That is what we did and its the same thing we want to do here. They are not the same players of course,” Klopp told NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk. “These players from Liverpool are better, more experienced in some ways and younger in other cases. Everything is okay, I am here. I am not here only because LFC was calling. I believe in the potential of this team. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders is really good, defenders experienced and very young, goalkeeper is really good. Everything is there.”
Everything. A powerful word and one that doesn’t get lost in translation. Liverpool has a batch of world class talent, and Klopp’s is anxious to organize it in world class fashion. Strap in, Anfield.
So here we go: the biggest rivalry in U.S. Soccer, the one that sends fans racing for the stadia for a glimpse of history.
It’s the U.S. and Mexico for the right to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, and it will play out at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
National pride is on the line, and national jobs may rightly be in jeopardy. Let’s swing through our coverage, and what’s at stake in just over 24 hours time.
Who is the key to Saturday’s match? Is it Michael Bradley? Fabian Johnson? Andres Guardado? Will Klinsmann opt for players with Liga MX experience, stay Euro Heavy, or appease the domestic set? Read more here.
So how will Klinsmann line ’em up? JPW has his preference, some options, and a prediction of what the manager will do.
What are the chances this one finds its way into the upper echelon of matches in the Mexico/U.S. rivalry? This is the company it could join.
The folks in the anti-Klinsmann brigade seethe with pure detestation of the USMNT boss. Any quote from him is self-serving and dishonest, any success accidental. Beat Germany or the Netherlands in friendlies on the road? Coincidental and Unimportant. Lose a friendly to Brazil? The worst thing ever.
[ MORE: The case for firing Klinsmann after a loss ]
So this match, being meaningful and testing his unbeaten mark vs Mexico, is going to be a clarion call for U.S. Soccer fans. Barring a cataclysmic loss in horrific blowout fashion, he won’t be canned. But a win will be validation for his supporters while a loss would cue a genuine hot seat. And for his detractors, already foaming at the mouth from the words of icon Landon Donovan? Kablammo.