Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting 11 is out for tonight World Cup qualifier in Panama City:
- In goal: Brad Guzan
Klinsmann says the guy deserves a start, and we wrote recently about how its hard to argue the point. The Aston Villa No. 1 has little to prove at this point, although the opportunity to nudge up a little closer to U.S. No. 1 Tim Howard makes his night in Panama City worth watching.
- Along the back line: Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, Michael Orozco, Edgar Castillo
Klinsmann will probably take four center backs to Brazil next year (or perhaps up to five, depending on how we count versatile man Geoff Cameron). Goodson (pictured) remains in a good spot, although young Anthony Brooks could continue to climb in the depth chart.
Orozco? Well, Klinsmann really likes the guy, so there’s always a chance. But he can’t afford any kind of error tonight.
Castillo was an off-the-bench revelation Friday; a good performance tonight and he could really improve his Brazilian chances.
- In the midfield: Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud, Graham Zusi
Zusi has nothing to worry about. Beckerman is less secure but in OK shape. Besides, Klinsmann knows all of the RSL man’s strengths and limitations by now, so he’s either on the bus or he ain’t, and not much us going to change tonight. As for the others …
It’s probably a “no margin for error” zone. Especially for Bedoya, who needs to bounce back strong from a real stinker against Jamaica. It was extra harmful because Klinsmann had given him a start specifically as a reward for good play leading up to that Jamaican contest, although mostly in lesser competitions.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Kljestan’s or Diskerud’s ongoing chances could hinge on good performance tonight. Someone really needs to grab the opening here, the spot behind Michael Bradley for the linking role.
- Up front: Jozy Altidore
This is all about trying to get the poor guy’s confidence up … getting his head right after dealing with this mess at Sunderland. Another goal would help.
Aron Johannsson did so much right Friday against Jamaica in his U.S. debut as a starter. Next, he’ll have to finish a chance – assuming he gets into the match at some point, which seems likely. Still, Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Landon Donovan and (most likely) Herculez Gomez remain ahead of the young Icelandic-American, so this is an opportunity he simply cannot afford to waste.