Study points ahead of United States-Canada

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Kickoff at BMO Field on the outskirts of downtown Toronto is set for 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. A few points of emphasis as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side works out any kinks before World Cup qualifying begins later this week:

  • Is this the day we (finally!) see Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan in starting combination?

We finally got to see Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the field together – albeit all too briefly. Dempsey can in as a late sub against Brazil on Wednesday as Jurgen Klinsmann’s team chased the game from behind.

Dempsey occupied a left-sided midfield spot, opposite Landon Donovan on the right in a 4-4-2 – very “Bob Bradley” that way. So, was that just a concession to a night that had gotten away, as Klinsmann perhaps got as many offensive figures as possible on the field?

Because we’ve all assumed that Dempsey would occupy a second-forward spot, probably behind Jozy Altidore. That’s the position Dempsey slotted into with such grand, transfer-speculation-fueling success last season at Fulham.

So, what gives? Perhaps we find out tonight, If Dempsey is adjudged healthy.

  • The Jozy Altidore issue

Hopefully, if his bossy pants Dutch club doesn’t mind, we can now see whether Jozy Altidore’s terrific season for AZ Alkmaar will translate into international success. Jurgen Klinsmann made no secret of his frustration over the Dutch club’s prickly refusal to release the young U.S. striker any earlier.

Altidore was permitted to join U.S. practices only on Monday, the day required for club release by FIFA.

So, Altidore fell a little behind in fitness. He would appear to be the first-choice striker. And wouldn’t it be nice to see the first-choice striker on the field before first-choices become even more important – this Friday and then again next week during World Cup qualifiers?

  • The question at center back

Jurgen Klinsmann removed Geoff Cameron from the starting lineup after the match against Scotland, even though the Houston Dynamo man did little wrong against a Scotland side that offered only a feeble threat.

But Oguchi Onyewu hardly distinguished himself in Cameron’s place alongside Carlos Bocanegra. So, what might we see tonight?

Klinsmann praised Cameron, even after the Scotland contest, clearly still excited over the Dynamo center back’s passing ability from the back line. But what about this:

Clarence Goodson frequently gets omitted from these conversations – and I’m not sure why. Every time Goodson gets into a contest, he handles himself with composure and professionalism. He may not overwhelm, but he gets the job done – just like against Italy in the Americans’ big February win. Goodson wasn’t the best man on the field, but he most certainly wasn’t bad.

I would be surprised to see Onyewu back in the lineup tonight. But who knows? The man seems to get plenty of chances to put things right.

  • The sensational man who can bother those U.S. center backs

For Canada, Dwayne De Rosario is no Neymar. But he sure ain’t bad. At this point, we should be talking about De Rosario as the most accomplished players ever to win an MLS jersey. He’s got all the honors, and he’s still getting the business done (and in style) this year for D.C. United, at age 34.

He’s in great form for United, even if the goal-scoring stats aren’t quite up to past years. (He’s got time; the next “Se Ro” signature streak is surely out there.)

Behind him, it gets pretty shaky. Julian de Guzman, talented though he is, just never seems to get the most from his ability. So, the Canadians will apparently lean on the hard-working likes of Will Johnson and others to frustrate and smother the American midfield.

They hosts will concentrate on defensive stinginess and organization – and then hope De Rosario can concoct something to test U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard.