Preview: U.S. Men’s National Team take on Chile

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DENY GALLAGHER
Staff Writer

The United State Men’s National Team begins their 2015 campaign a little more than 5,200 kilometers from where their 2014 World Cup dreams were dashed against Belgium.

With a new cycle on the horizon, Klinsmann will be looking to some familiar faces to help make a statement Wednesday night against Chile in Rancagua.

In most years, the January camp is used to give young guys the opportunity to prove themselves with the senior team. In 2015, the mold has shifted with the influx of USMNTers coming to Major League Soccer. There are 20 players from MLS on the roster for the upcoming two friendlies, with two from Europe, and one from the NASL. Of the 23, nine went to Brazil this past summer including captain Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Jermaine Jones.

On the other side of the ball, Chile start 2015 at 14th in the FIFA rankings and fifth in CONMEBOL. For the hosts, they are fielding a side of only domestic players. Despite not having players like Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, Klinsmann will still have plenty to worry about.

La Roja will feature two players from their Round of 16 World Cup squad in defender Jose Rojas and goalkeeper Johnny Herrea. Also included in Chilean manager Jorge Sampaoli’s 20-man roster is one-time New York Cosmos target Jamie Valdes from Colo Colo.

The United States has not fared well on the road in South America. In six friendlies, the stars and stripes have only managed one victory, two draws, and four losses. The all-time series record against Chile is slightly better than their record in South America, but not by much.

Wednesday night will be the 10th meeting between the two countries. Through the previous nine meetings, the United States has tallied three wins, four losses, and two draws. The last time Chile and the United States got together in 2011 it ended in a 1-1 draw, with Teal Bunbury netting his first international goal.

With a squad close to full strength, the United States should be able to go into a sold-out Estadio El Teniente and get a result. In Klinsmann’s first cycle with the national team, the squad made a habit of getting results in places where the US hadn’t faired well in the past. Wednesday provides an opportunity not only for the players, but for the United States as the road to Copa America 2016 continues.

The friendly between United States and Chile can be seen on Fox Sports 1 at 6pm ET.