Who: USA vs. Brazil
When: Tuesday, Sept. 8, 8 pm ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
The countdown is on and the days are ticking away quickly — 33 and counting — until the U.S. national team clashes with Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, a one-game playoff for the confederation’s spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup, at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 10.
Following a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Peru on Friday, Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT squad has one last chance to either state their case for a place in the team to face El Tri next month, or fine-tune and forge partnerships in key areas of the field, when they take on Brazil at Gillette Stadium Tuesday night.
CAPTAIN BRADLEY RETURNS; DEMPSEY NOT WITH TEAM
Michael Bradley, who remained with his club team, Toronto FC, through the weekend, has joined the USMNT ahead of Tuesday’s game as originally planned. Meanwhile, Klinsmann elected to not bring Clint Dempsey into camp in favor of leaving him with his club team, Seattle Sounders, as he returns from a hamstring injury and regain full fitness.
“I had a good conversation with Clint,” Klinsmann said. “He’s still not 100 percent and we agreed it’s best to let him stay with Seattle to allow him to continue making progress ahead of next month’s match against Mexico.”
Klinsmann made another pair of changes for Tuesday’s game, as defender Matt Besler was released from cap to rejoin Sporting Kansas City ahead of a league game Wednesday night. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough was also released to rejoin his club team, Club Leon. Stanford University forward Jordan Morris and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson were also added to the roster.
MORE TURNOVER ALONG THE BACKLINE
With the departure of Besler, an assumed and deserved starter at center back, John Brooks looks set to retain the starting job at left-sided center back despite a poor showing at the 2015 Gold Cup and struggling through his 63-minute shift against Peru. Besler’s 27 minutes against Peru showed, yet again, that the 28-year-old is much better suited to start meaningful games at this point than the 22-year-old German-born behemoth.
Starting alongside Brooks against Peru was Omar Gonzalez, who struggle plenty himself before being replace by Ventura Alvarado at halftime. Alvarado, of course, was Brooks’ regular partner during the Gold Cup, a failure of a tournament in which the USMNT finished fourth. Besler and Gonzalez, when played together, have put in stellar shift after stellar shift along the backline.
Tim Ream looks to be the answer at left back, for now at least, with Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley currently injured. Geoff Cameron, who now starts at center back for Stoke City, looks locked in at right back due to Timothy Chandler’s absence (injury). Cameron, of course, was a regular starter at right back in the Premier League before Klinsmann instructed to win a starting center back job in order to be considered for the position with the USMNT.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Greg Garza (Atlas), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Veracruz), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Andrew Wooten (SV Sandhausen), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jefferson (Botafogo), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio), Alisson (Internacional)
DEFENDERS (8): David Luiz (PSG), Marquinhos (PSG), Miranda (Inter Milan), Gabriel Paulista (Arsenal), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Filipe Luiz (Atletico Madrid), Danilo (Real Madrid), Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Luis Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Elias (Corinthians), Ramirez (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Firmino (Liverpool), Willian (Chelsea), Kaka (Orlando City SC), Lucas Lima (Santos)
FORWARDS (4): Neymar (Barcelona), Lucas (PSG), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich)