Predicting the United States lineup versus Costa Rica

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DENVER – On the subject of United States lineup tonight against Costa Rica, the big riddle to solve is the back line.

How to get the most from a cast of options that is frightenly light in international experience is the big order of the day.

It’s on Jurgen Klinsmann to get the very most from his selections – but it’s on us to perform the guesswork on what might happen in the chill (and possible wet stuff) tonight at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.

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(Standard disclaimer: A “lineup prediction” for journalists who do their homework is really more “educated guess,” but at some point it’s just that … a guess.)

(MORE: PST match preview with loads of links)

Since Klinsmann’s challenge is to get the very most from a group of defenders with 12 World Cup qualifier caps between them, I get the feeling that Geoff Cameron may slide out to right back, where he generally plays for Stoke City. Otherwise, Klinsmann is leaving one of his top defenders off the field, either Clarence Goodson or Omar Gonzalez.

Out left … it’s really anybody’s guess. Justin Morrow was OK in his national team debut two months ago against Canada. Of course, Klinsmann could play the wildcard here with Brek Shea or DaMarcus Beasley. If it is Morrow, he’ll need extra protection from whoever sets up farthest left.

Klinsmann’s options for holding midfielder are Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman is more of a pure holder than Jones, and he’s not quite as adept at penetrating passes from that spot. Jones looks like the better option for this one (while Beckerman could possibly be introduced alongside Jones to add further defensive grit Tuesday in Mexico.)

Michael Bradley usually operates slightly higher than Jones, wherever they line up.

(MORE: Most pressure attached to a U.S. qualifier since 2001)

Gomez could play along the left rather than DaMarcus Beasley; he sometimes plays along the outside for Santos Laguna. That would serve to get Jozy Altidore on the field, too.

Dempsey seems sure to operate beneath the striker, or beneath two of them if Klinsmann prefers something that looks more like a 4-4-2.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Agent Jorge Mendes appears before judge in Falcao tax probe

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MADRID (AP) Football agent Jorge Mendes has told a Spanish judge that he had no involvement in the financial planning of client Radamel Falcao, who has been accused by a state prosecutor of tax fraud.

Mendes, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, appeared before a judge in a Madrid court for 45 minutes on Tuesday as part of the probe into whether there are grounds for the case against Falcao to go to trial.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Mendes’ agency, Gestifute, released a statement saying that “neither he nor his employees have ever intervened in the creation of corporate structures for his clients and much less provided any tax advice to them.”

Last month, a state prosecutor accused Falcao of defrauding Spain’s Tax Office of around $6 million from 2012-13. The alleged unpaid taxes were from money the Colombian player made from endorsement deals through image rights, not from the salary he was then being paid from club Atletico Madrid. Falcao now plays for Monaco.

Arfield, Adekugbe on Canada’s Gold Cup roster

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Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield and on-loan Brighton defender Samuel Adekugbe are among the players who will represent Canada in this summer’s Gold Cup.

Arfield, 28, was born in Scotland and earned the first of seven Canada caps in 2016, and Adekugbe returns to Vancouver from a year-long loan to Brighton and Hove Albion on June 30.

The pair join nine MLS players, two NASL player, and a USL player, with the rest of the group based outside North America.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Notably, Orlando City players Will Johnson and Cyle Larin were not called up by coach Octavio Zambrano.

Goalkeepers: Maxime Crepeau (Montreal), Milan Borjan (MKS Korona Kielce), Jayson Leutwiler (Shrewsbury Town)

Defenders: Samuel Adekugbe (Brighton and Hove Albion), Fraser Aird, Manjrekar James (Vasas Budapest), Dejan Jakovic (New York Cosmos), Adam Straith (FC Edmonton), Steven Vitoria (Lechia Gdansk), Marcel de Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Midfielders: Scott Arfield (Burnley), Patrice Bernier (Montreal), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver), Raheem Edwards (Toronto FC), Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Louisville City FC), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Montreal), Jonathan Osorio (Toronto), Michael Petrasso (QPR), Samuel Piette (CD Izarra), Russell Teibert (Vancouver)

Forwards: Lucas Cavallini (CA Penarol), Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto)