It’s that time again.
The moment to toss out a couple of standards and a couple of surprises for who may make the next USMNT roster.
This is the first set of friendlies that–at least that we know–were made with Klinsmann involved in the decision making. (Note: It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Costa Rica and Belgium were scheduled with the new manager’s advance knowledge.)
So what might we expect and look for this time around as Herr Yankee culls his mix?
• Not running the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 would be a departure from Klinsmann’s current course
So far, Klinsmann’s personnel has jived perfectly with his favored system of using a hub striker with two flankers running off him and then using three linking players (with different strengths) ahead of four in the backline.
Edson Buddle, Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo, all with some physical size have manned the pseudo target role in the middle of the field.
Names like Herculez Gomez and Charlie Davies haven’t been called as they wouldn’t be great fits for that system. Neither is a traditional winger or a traditional target forward.
Expect to see more of the same like-for-like player selections from Klinsmann this time around.
• Does Klinsmann respect the MLS schedule?
It will be interesting to see if Klinsmann gives pause to the candidacy of any players from the 11 or so teams that may still be in the MLS playoff race.
He wouldn’t call, say, Sheanon Williams if the Union were somehow fighting for a spot? What about Bill Hamid?
Will he call players from any MLS favorites heading into the playoffs? What about Brek Shea who broke down after his last fly-a-thon with the States?
• Youth or experience?
Much like his predecessor, Jurgen has seen fit to make sure there are a core group of players to ably “command” positions so that others may be tested out. Edgar Castillo played next to captain Carlos Bocanegra while Tim Ream sat watching the veteran. Tim Howard giving advice to Hamid.
Is this throw into the fire time….or steady as she goes?
• Whose the opponent?
A little tidbit here. Against Costa Rica, Jurgen Klinsmann’s roster had a Hispanic flair with Michael Orozco Fiscal, Edgar Castillo and Jose Torres. Only Torres started against Belgium from that crew.
With the US playing Honduras and Ecuador, will that trend continue?
Best guess camp calls:
G: Tim Howard, Sean Johnson
The skinny: Important for the veteran to be in camp as there are no others. Marcus Hahnemann and Brad Guzan haven’t been called by Klinsmann and look unlikely to be flown in on USSF’s dime anytime soon.
Hamid is sacrificed due to playoff responsibilities while Chicago’s Sean Johnson finds himself in camp after the Fire’s season has been extinguished.
D: Timmy Chandler, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Omar Gonzalez, Daniel Williams, Zach Lloyd.
The skinny: First, if you’re going to bring in Onyewu, now is the time do it. He’s on form and there is no risk.
Big if, but it does send the message that all players will be given a shot. With both Onyewu and Goodson in camp, one of George John or Omar Gonzalez gets sacrificed and in this case it’s John–both because the Galaxy have a playoff spot locked up and because Gonzalez is on some of his best form.
Steve Cherundolo has been off-form for Hannover lately. Klinsmann gives him a break here and sees what Chandler can do in that spot all by himself.
At leftback? Flummoxed. Will Edgar Castillo get another runout there? It’s possible. Guessing Zach Lloyd here. Any dark horses? Miss Jonathan Bornstein yet?
And where does Daniel Williams play?
M: Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Alejandro Bedoya, Josh Gatt, Mix Diskerud, Kyle Beckerman, DaMarcus Beasley, Brek Shea* (1 game), Landon Donovan (1 game), Clint Dempsey (1 game)
The skinny: With Jose Torres out, does Klinsmann replace the golden child or do away with the role? Interesting question. Dax McCarty’s not getting a call.
Alejandro Bedoya probably gets a runout out wide as, of course, does DaMarcus Beasley while on the opposite side Josh Gatt slides into the Robbie Rogers+ role. Bedoya of course can flip flop.
There’s a wild card in here somewhere and it’s not Stu Holden who is nowhere near peak performance and needs to focus on club ball.
Freddy Adu? Probably not.
F: Juan Agudelo, Robbie Findley, Jozy Altidore (1 game)
The skinny: No better time to see Findley than now when his odometer is starting to tick again at Forest and his engine is buzzing. Can Findley hold-up the ball. Bradley seemed to think so. If Klinsmann rates him which he may not, this is the opportune time for a look.
No Charlie Davies. He’s not there. Let it go….for now.
No Herculez Gomez?
No Jozy Altidore. After the little flap about his travel, he’s allowed to remain in Europe.