This is a more exciting post to type than in matches past, where the question was whether Jurgen Klinsmann was going to give Timmy Chandler another chance to look ridiculous in a United States uniform.
That’s because we’ve got new faces and a new plan. Whereas Klinsmann gave “The Old Guard” a chance to be heroes against Mexico, an opportunity they royally mucked up, we get a taste-test of what the German-born coach sees in store for his side.
That’s not to say this will be a “by the book” slam your best 11 out there and go for it. The Yanks are highly-favored to come out of their group and advance to the Hex. Finishing behind two of Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and Saint Vincent & The Grenadines would be shocking.
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Take Friday’s Group C opener in St. Louis’ Busch Stadium: The U.S. is going to win, it’s just a matter of with how much style, class, and promise. With respect to Saint Vincent’s pair of USL strikers, this one’s going in the Yanks’ book.
So will Klinsmann experiment for a game before a trip to Port of Spain on Tuesday, the undebatable toughest match of the group? Maybe.
First off, here’s what he’s selecting from:
USMNT squad in full
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid, Tim Howard
Defenders: Ventura Alvarado, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Matt Miazga, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Brek Shea
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones, Darlington Nagbe, DeAndre Yedlin, Miguel Ibarra
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Alan Gordon, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood, Gyasi Zardes
Assuming Klinsmann and Fabian Johnson have patched things up, there’s little doubt that the following players will be fixtures in every 11 for a wild: Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron and Johnson.
That’s really about it. While it’s safe to guess that Gyasi Zardes, Jermaine Jones and DeAndre Yedlin are still likely to feature, we can’t be sure. Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are competing for the No. 1 keeper’s job. Should Jozy Altidore still be a no-doubter? Probably not, but with Aron Johannsson still out his resume will keep him in the XI.
Color me crazy, but I think Klinsmann is going to give Darlington Nagbe a chance to shine right out of the “new things” box. I don’t quite think Matt Miazga will get the same treatment (although I do expect Klinsmann to cap-tie the dual national, as he could easily be with the U-23s against Brazil tonight).
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The biggest question will be how put off Klinsmann was with the carryover players from the Mexico game. Clint Dempsey was poor and not brought back into the fold, but also struggling were current squad members Matt Besler, Jermaine Jones and others. Will they get breathing room.
We also expect Bobby Wood to get a chance to show his wares as more than a super sub after scoring big goals against the Netherlands, Germany and Mexico.
Without further adieu, here’s a couple guesses at Klinsmann’s crew.
Ream — Cameron — Besler — Shea
Yedlin — Cameron — Ream — Johnson
Jones — Bradley — Nagbe
Zardes — Altidore — Wood