Preview: U.S. Men’s National Team vs Peru

IMAGE, USSOCCER.COM

by Deny Gallagher

After months of talk following a disappointing Gold Cup campaign, the United States is out to make a statement against Peru in the lead up to the Confederations Cup Playoff match.

Know the Enemy: Peru

Standing in their way of redemption is a Peru side coming off a third place finish at this summer’s Copa America. The South American outfit will be lead by Flamengo striker Paolo Guerrero, Al-Jazira winger Jefferson Farfan and Real Betis midfielder Juan Manuel Vargas. The side will be without former Bayern Munich star Claudio Pizarro, who was left off the roster.

Guzan’s Net

As for the United States, the side comes in to this match with an established number one keeper in Brad Guzan — despite speculation of a positional battle with Tim Howard. This past week, Jurgen Klinsmann told the media that the Aston Villa keeper would be his starter for both September games, as well as the Confederations Cup Playoff match.

“I’ve never been a backup,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that’s a mentality. I work my tail off every day I know what it means to compete at the highest level, to have a certain level of excellence and I do that. I’ve never been a backup and I never will be.”

Backline Concerns

While the goalkeeper debate is grabbing the headlines, it is the backline that may be the biggest question mark. The biggest priority of this camp for Klinsmann should be establishing which four defenders he will begin building continuity with. The pieces are there to build a fortress in front of net, as Besler and Brooks have partnered together before. In addition, Jurgen has the luxury of moving Geoff Cameron between center back and right back to solidify the defense. From there the United States could turn to either Omar Gonzlez or Tim Ream to round out the foursome. Regardless of who earns the start for the United States, expect the backline to have trouble handling Peru by the end of the first half.

Which Jozy Shows Up?

Prior to the European friendlies this summer, the big question was where the goals would come from. The answer is slightly more certain than May as Bobby Wood, Gyasi Zardes, and Aron Johannsson have all proven they can score on the international level. Even Jozy Altidore has found the scoring touch of late in MLS, as he returns to the fold after being dropped from the squad halfway through the Gold Cup. With two playmakers in Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley missing, the weight will fall on Jozy’s shoulders to create some offense. It can’t be stressed enough that if Altidore plays in the pedestrian manner that he did at the Gold Cup, the United States will struggle to break down opposing defenses. However, if he can create chances rather than score them (which seems to be what his game has grown into) the striker will be able to reclaim his sport in the Starting XI.

The match is set for September 4th at RFK Stadium in D.C. Kickoff is set for 7PM and the match can be seen on FS1 and UniMas.

Projected Starting XI

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