In some ways, the roster for Landon Donovan’s tribute game is the perfect summation of the United States legend’s relationship with Jurgen Klinsmann; Sure, Donovan’s going to play and get his stadium-wide high-five from the fans, but not at the expense of getting the kids ready for the future.
The active central figures of Donovan’s time in the stars and stripes are staying home: Clint Dempsey has been a very busy man, while Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones have MLS games with major playoff implications. Tim Howard’s on international hiatus.
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In fact, it’s likely Donovan won’t be well-acquainted with several of the young bucks on the squad for his Friday ‘testimonial’ of sorts against Ecuador, and he will likely just now be meeting at least one player in NASL call-up Miguel Ibarra.
So how will Klinsmann line ’em up on Friday, assuming Donovan gets the start? Here are a few guesses.
If Klinsmann again goes 4-3-3, as he did in September’s 1-0 win over the Czech Republic, he could line-up in a very similar fashion. Against the Czechs, he rolled out:
In that match, Gyau was electric. But given the plot of Friday, he could be sacrificed for Donovan, unless Green’s hamstring still isn’t right (It’s limited him on-loan from Hamburger SV recently). Green is listed as a midfielder on this roster.
Of the Starting XI from Prague, only Johnson is not on the roster, so it could be as simple as:
And Donovan comes out in the 46th minute to thunderous applause, like Thierry Henry in the MLS All Star Game against Bayern Munich. Miguel Ibarra, Julian Green or Bobby Wood gets a half’s run-out.
It likely won’t be that simple, though, especially with Omar Gonzalez available this time around. Going on current form, it’ll be a challenge at multiple positions. Chandler’s been very good for Eintracht Frankfurt while the speedy and versatile Yedlin continues to improve in MLS.
And, as mentioned, Green is listed as a midfielder. Corona could make way for Diskerud to move inside. Then we could see a fire-when-ready offensive lineup (with a few defensive changes for fun and form).
Finally, let’s not forget how fantastic Rimando was against the Czechs. If not for age, he likely would get a look between the sticks. And it’s possible he does anyway, in a “if you’re going to take him, play him” agreement between RSL and the USMNT.
Here’s a wild card 4-4-2 lineup for Friday. It’s more of a “for fun, cause Klinsmann is unpredictable” XI, but also keeping in mind that Klinsmann knows a win over Ecuador is better for his FIFA ranking than Tuesday’s opponent.