The United States men’s national team has largely handled its business in its CONCACAF rivalry with Cuba, with the Yanks and Leones del Caribe renewing acquaintances for the 12th time on Friday.
The U.S. boasts a 9-1-1 record ahead of the match in Havana, just the third time Cuba has hosted the Yanks and the first time the two have staged a friendly there.
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Few expect Cuba to contend in Friday’s contest, and Jurgen Klinsmann should be able to give some of his fringe players a chance to state their intentions ahead of next month’s massive World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica.
Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, and Gyasi Zardes are still out, and Alejandro Bedoya will miss the match as well. With a trio of unusual goalkeepers on the roster, Friday’s match may be more experimental than Tuesday’s visit from New Zealand.
What might we see?
When the Yanks last took the pitch, a 4-0 defeat of Trinidad and Tobago, we saw both Christian Pulisic and Sacha Kljestan earn starts in a dominant win. The set-up was a 4-4-2 with both Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood up top.
That duo wasn’t exactly dynamite together, but expect Klinsmann to give them a chance to shine together.
John Brooks hasn’t started a match for Hertha Berlin since Sept. 10 thanks to an injury, so we may not see the Yanks’ preferred center back pairing. Also don’t sleep on Timmy Chandler getting another shot at left back, as the Eintracht Frankfurt man has been regularly going 90 for his Bundesliga side during a strong start to the season (though he plays RB there).
The trickiest spot to predict is right mid (assuming Bradley, Pulisic, and Kljestan complete the four-man group). Danny Williams, Lynden Gooch, and Paul Arriola could all slide in there, and Gooch seems the least likely due to Klinsmann’s proclivity for using players off the bench for cap No. 1.
Klinsmann could also again opt to use Bradley more advanced in order to get a look at Perry Kitchen or Danny Williams in a deep-lying spot, but we doubt that’s going to happen. Right? RIGHT?
Yedlin — Cameron — Birnbaum — Johnson
Williams — Pulisic
Wood — Altidore
Given the Yanks’ opposition and manager, we could provide you with a wild-looking 4-4-2 just for kicks, though. Instead, we’ll opt for some questions for the comment section:
- Who’s the third forward? Or at least, what’s the pecking order at each spot? Is Jordan Morris No. 3 regardless, or could Julian Green be preferred if Altidore comes out? Would Klinsmann really opt for Chris Wondolowski before either?
- Might Michael Bradley be moved? Look, he’s their best defensive or deep-lying mid, but it’s possible Klinsmann would prefer to play him while also getting a look at Geoff Cameron, Perry Kitchen, or Danny Williams in that spot.
- Who’s the No.1, No. 3 goalkeeper? With Tim Howard and Brad Guzan allowed to remain with their clubs, will it be David Bingham, William Yarbrough, or Ethan Horvath between the sticks?