Jurgen Klinsmann and company have one shot to collect their thoughts before this summer’s Gold Cup is upon the U.S. Men’s National Team.
With a squad full of World Cup hopefuls, many will look to earn their way into Brazil, but it won’t be easy. The first hurdle for the United States in the Gold Cup will be Belize on Tuesday.
Before that is the friendly against Guatemala on Friday at 11 pm on NBC Sports Network. Jurgen Klinsmann has already said the starting lineup for this match up will be the likely lineup for the beginning stages of the Gold Cup.
Guatemala did not qualify for the Gold Cup, but Klinsmann said he picked them because they will provide exactly the tune up the United States needs.
“They will make it very tight, they will have all the numbers behind the ball, and we have to find ways to break them down,” said Klinsmann in the pre-match press conference. “I think they can give us a good test for what we can expect in the Gold Cup. That’s the reason why we asked them to play the friendly. It’s going to be tricky.”
With DaMarcus Beasley handed the captain’s armband, the defender knows the upcoming competition is a special one for many on the roster.
“We’ve got a job to do” said Beasley. “Any advice I’d give the young guys who haven’t gotten a cap yet is take the opportunity. There’s a lot of guys including myself that got to the World Cup in 2002 – it was this exact tournament. So you don’t take it lightly, you play every game like it’s your last.”
The Guatemala match will be an intriguing warm up, given it remains to be seen how Klinsmann will make use of several players on the roster both old and new. Landon Donovan returns to the national team fold, while younger players like Jack McInerney and Max Diskerud will look to heed Beasley’s advice.
The last time these two countries met, the USMNT knocked Guatemala out of the World Cup regional qualifiers and began an 11-match losing streak for Los Chapines. The Central Americans will certainly be looking for revenge as well as any possible way to get out of their funk.
One thing fans should look out for, even if it’s not entirely likely, is for Brek Shea to get a chance to play against Guatemala. He’s not on the Gold Cup roster, but has been training and traveling with the team, and is in the friendly squad. There may not be too many chances for Klinsmann to get a good look at Shea for the future, so now may be a good opportunity.
Another position with a microscope over it will be the right-back spot. Look for both Michael Orozco Fiscal and Michael Parkhurst to battle things out.
Klinsmann only gets one chance to not just experiment but also get players to gel and work together in the system he’s devised for the Gold Cup. It will be interesting to see how he makes use of it.