USMNT Friendly Preview: Denmark

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  • The series is somewhat even, with US winning once, drawing three, and losing twice
  • Denmark is one of the few European sides not to be scheduled a Euro qualifier this window
  • Clint Dempsey is injured and unavailable for the match, having picked up a hamstring knock

The United States begins the March international window with a road friendly in Aarhus Wednesday, and it’s safe to say the road to the 2018 World Cup begins now.

[ MORE: How might they line up? ]

Jurgen Klinsmann traversed his way through the post Brazil friendlies like just that, and we saw more of the regulars than maybe we expected. Here, in Denmark, Klinsmann shook things up with his roster, and we’re likely to get a good look at some of the fringe players who could be options come 2018.

Denmark

With the Danes clustered into Euro 2016 qualifying Group I – the only group with five countries instead of six – they don’t have a qualifier scheduled for this window. Instead, they’ll play a pair of friendlies against the US and France.

While they aren’t gearing up for an immediate impactful match, coach Martin Olsen is still likely to deploy a very strong lineup. With their five-team Euro qualifying group, there’s little room for error. Denmark sits atop the group, but just a point ahead of Portugal who bested them in Copenhagen back in October. Their group is in even further disarray considering Serbia and Albania are appealing the result of their match that was halted by fan violence. Depending on who (if anyone) collects the three points from that match, Denmark could be even at the top with Albania or looking to fend off three other countries just below them. It’s a chaotic group.

As a result, they’ll look to get their first-team in good form with such a gap in qualifying matches (they go from November to June without one). Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen is the star, and he will provide a stiff test for the US midfield and back line. There are few other household names on their roster, but some may recognize Nicolas Bendtner from his Arsenal days. Now at Wolfsburg, the striker is second fiddle to Europe’s most in-form striker Bas Dost, but still has collected his fair share of goals given his limited playing time. Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel – son of the legendary Peter Schmeichel – is the starter in goal and is in form with his club despite their position in the table.

United States

The US comes into this game looking for plenty of answers. There are fresh faces on the roster who will look to make an impact should they receive the chance to do so. Cody Cropper, Ventura Alvarado, and William Yarbrough will be looking to become recognizable names.

There are also a host of players who didn’t make the World Cup roster having just burst onto the scene, but could stamp their name into Jurgen Klinsmann’s regular list. Gyasi Zardes is hoping for a true opportunity to translate his solid MLS form into the national team spotlight. Tim Ream, Danny Williams, Rubio Rubin, and Brek Shea have all been in the national team picture in the past but, for a myriad of reasons, haven’t burst through the brick wall to become a regular just yet.

There’s the curious case of Julian Green, who needs a good showing not only for his own confidence having been frozen out of the Hamburg side for the duration of his loan spell, but also to prove to the world that Hamburg is making the mistake and not Green. It will be interesting to see if he gets significant playing time, just a sniff of the pitch, or nothing at all.

Finally, despite Dempsey’s injury, there are still familiar faces hoping to be the focal point of the transition between World Cup cycles. Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson (who hasn’t featured since the World Cup due to injury), and Nick Rimando are all in that mix.