US vs Azerbaijan preview: All eyes on Donovan-less 23 as prep rolls on

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Tuesday night’s World Cup preparation match is going to get loads of attention, especially as United States 23-man roster snubs continue to complain about Jurgen Klinsmann’s decisions.

Unhappy Landon Donovan, Clarence Goodson and others won’t be on hand for the States, which will test out Klinsmann’s final unit for the first time since last week’s roster announcement.

As an aside, I understand the frustration and anger from anyone omitted from the roster, but these guys aren’t exactly bathing themselves in glory, are they? Unless this is a symptom of a sick locker room, part of me wishes Donovan could’ve left his vocal response in line with his classy Facebook post.

And so all eyes will be on any youngster that hits the pitch on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET against Azerbaijan, a sneaky and stingy squad that’s performing as well as it ever has in national history.

Led by Berti Vogts — you’ll remember him from March’s hullaballoo when he was added to Klinsmann’s US staff — the Milli are ranked No. 85 in the world and should be a win for the States (especially on the road halfway across the planet).

But Vogts led the nation to a 1W-6D-3L record in a relatively-weak UEFA World Cup qualifying group, including home draws with Russia and Israel and a win over Northern Ireland. The road wasn’t kind to the Azerbaijan side, but the only time it lost in qualifying by more than one goal were 2-0 and 3-0 losses to Portugal.

Unless you follow Topaz Premyer Liqası — the Azerbaijan’s top flight — you won’t recognize too many names on Tuesday, but keep in mind that this is a stingy team.

That’s good for the States, who needs to find a way to break through on goal and also won’t be challenged too much on a back line that has many US supporters concerned. The Yanks have allowed two goals in back-to-back matches, and have a 1W-2D-2L record in their last five matches (all friendlies).

Still the firepower will be in full — sorry, Landon Donovan fans — on Tuesday for the first time in a while. The States truly should pop up a multiple-goal win and fans will certainly be monitoring, and overanalyzing, how Klinsmann’s arranges his Starting XI. Yes, the World Cup excitement is going to plow ahead toward fever pitch, and Tuesday should get pretty loud in San Francisco.

For more on the match, and Azerbaijan, check out Soccerly’s preview here.