BY PATRICK MacDONALD
It’s January friendly time in the land of U.S. Soccer; that very special time of year when 15 or so guys show up in camp, only to be sent back home until the following January, while the rest actually earn some minutes with the U.S. National Team.
The squad has been training in California for almost 3 weeks and now faces it’s only challenge this Tuesday Night – a showdown against a depleted Canadian side in Houston Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium.
The term “challenge” here is used loosely. Aside from Dwayne DeRosario (coming back from injury), Nikolas Ledgerwood, and Lars Hirchfeld, no one on the Canadian side has 20 caps on the team. The Canadians have already played a friendly against an undermanned Denmark and were walloped 4-0.
Of course, facing the United States should get the juices flowing a little bit more than they would against Denmark, but while the Canadian team is made up of MLS scrubs, lower foreign division players, and free agents, the U.S. is composed of players who play regularly (except for free agent Alejandro Bedoya) and often star at their respective clubs.
Yes, it is a friendly where individual performances will matter more than the collective result, but there is still no reason the United States shouldn’t walk away with the win. Many players have big game national team experience and those who don’t are well deserving of their shot.
Projected Starting Lineup (4-1-2-3):
- Jurgen Klinsmann knows what he has in both Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid. Barring a dreadful camp, giving the start to Tally Hall in his home stadium just makes sense.
- Look for Beltran to get some time at right back, even over mighty mite Connor Lade. De La Garza will be given the opportunity to show what’s he’s got on the left. Gonzalez and Besler make the most sense in the middle.
- Kyle Beckerman is a Klinsy favorite and a likely lock at the 6 position. With a Canadian team the U.S. should dominate, it would not be shocking to see Klinsmann play two center mids further up, hence Zusi and Diskerud starting.
- Agudelo had a nice game against Russia and it would be hard not to see him get a reward for it – especially with Buddle out. Same goes for Gatt. Eddie Johnson rewarded Klinsmann’s confidence with some nice performances on the wing in Qualifying. He should be rewarded with a start against Canada.
Prediction: 3-0 U.S.