January is treating TSG like Gio Dos Santos doing the US at the 2011 Gold Cup. Unmercifully. Ouch.
Thanks for baring with us.
On to what you came here for.
The US attempts to break down Venezuela at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona Saturday night 6pm PT.
For the US, this match will represent the first time that Jurgen Klinsmann has had more than two weeks to prepare his team for a match.
While the player selection will be devoid of the creme-de-la-creme not in camp, a certain degree of homogeneity should have been spawned from a training period where the players have gotten comfortable with one another in Carson, CA.
That means that a US defense should be more cohesive than a typical camp while there should be better interplay up the pitch when attacking.
The US will play a Venezuela team that is a on an upswing. Los Llaneros are steaming forward on a trajectory that began with the changing of guard to youthful Coach Cesar Farias.
Farias took over in 2007 and his resume should make him a diety already back in the homeland: Venezuela’s first win over Brazil, a near-miss in qualifying for World Cup 2010, a semifinal birth for the first time in the 2011 Copa America with wins over Chile and Argentina.
The Venezuelan side might be lacking their Euro stars like the States, but they’ll come in a well drilled team and, if they deploy as expected in a 4-4-2, then the US will attempt to win the press-up-the-pitch battle that they’ve been trying to practice since Klinsmann’s first match.
TSG What We’re Looking For
• Centerback selection and competition
This Venezuela match marks the first time that US fans will get to see alternate options at arguably the US’s weakest position, centerback. Mind you, the States are not short on possibilities, but no one–new–has stepped up to own the role.
The options that were thought to be be first choices coming in to camp, Omar Gonzalez and George John, are now no longer–the latter loaned to West Ham and the former now recovering from season-curbing knee surgery.
The injury and moved created a chance for Geoff Cameron to get the feature look that many analysts and fans were rightfully pining for. (Though unproductive in the wake of a MLS Cup game injury, it’s curious to wonder if Klinsmann would have faciliated a loan for the Dynamo man in the off-season.)
In an interesting move–and on that is likely telling–Cameron has been playing left centerback in camp. With the experienced Heath Pearce out on the left flank and Brek Shea the arguably the States’ strongest attacker on Sunday, don’t be surprised if Jurgen Klinsmann sends the ball more frequently into Venezuela’s rear right side kitchen with the US experience and firepower on that side.
Tactically-sound bet Michael Parkhurst will probably get the start at RCB.
Old guard or new guard
Take a look at this in threes. In the “old guard” you have Benny Feilhaber, Jermaine Jones and Ricardo Clark. The new guard? Perhaps Graham Zusi and an elevated Jeff Larentowicz.
Is Jurgen looking to be competitive and then the “vets” out or did he merely bring the likes of Jones and Clark in camp to provide competition.
B+ B- team here represents a sizable challenge for MLS players who haven’t seen game action. Watch who Klinsmann entrusts with which role. It say more about the status of Feilhaber and Jones particularly if they don’t get the early run out.
» Will Chris Wondolowski be left on an island in second January camp game like last year?
» Will Geoff Cameron make foraging runs forward to add to the attack, not something that Klinsmann has employed with the senior squad?
» Will Bill Hamid get his first look in goal? Can Bill Hamid marshall a new defense against a difficult first-time opponent? Has Sean Johnson possibly usurped Hamid’s spot in the pecking order? Or will it be vet Nick Rimando who will steady the first-time backline?
continuing to Orange Slices—
Orange Slices is our game day, catch-all post that we update during the day before the match
Galavision and ESPN3, and fans can also follow the games via ussoccer.com‘s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer.
And of course, Taylor Twellman is tagged and John harkes is gonged out.
Around the web:
» Jon Levy, Yanks Are Coming, with a preview. Always a good read.
» Sports Illustrated’s veteran Steve Davis with his take.
A gorgeous sixty-degree night in Phoenix on Saturday which pretty much trumps the weather anywhere in the States right now.
Game is in Phoenix. So. No.
» The USMNT with just three matches in the books all-time versus Venezuela. The last one? Clint Dempsey and Brian tallying against the visitors in Ohio in 2006.
And here was your US line-up that day.
USA : 1-Tim Howard; 2-Chris Albright, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 13-Jimmy Conrad (Capt.), 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 8-Clint Dempsey, 14-Ben Olsen (24-Michael Bradley, 89), 16-Josh Wolff (21-Landon Donovan, 66), 15-Bobby Convey (17-DaMarcus Beasley, 65); 11-Brian Ching, 9-Eddie Johnson (7-Eddie Lewis, 83)
Subs not used: 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 5-John O’Brien, 6-Steve Cherundolo, 10-Claudio Reyna, 18-Kasey Keller, 19-Marcus Hahnemann, 20-Brian McBride, 23-Eddie Pope
Head Coach: Bruce Arena
No magic spray:
» MF Kyle Beckerman and FW Juan Agudelo–amazing two of the campers with the most caps–are out for both Venezuela and Panama. In terms of Beckerman, the steadying influence probably would have been helpful against the quick counters of both teams.
If you recall, AJ DeLaGarza–a possible starter on Saturday–was the only not used in last year’s January opener by then-manager Bob Bradley in a 1-1 draw again Chile.
More on Venezuela:
- Venezuela’s first match of 2012. Venezuela last played against Costa Rica on Dec. 22, 2011, falling 2-0 in the international friendly at Metropolitano Stadium in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.
- Venezuela’s forward corps includes two familiar players from the MLS front – Chivas USA’s Alejandro Moreno and the Columbus Crew’s Emilio Renteria. Moreno is the only forward among this group to have scored in international play with three goals.
- Midfielder Miguel Mea Vitali has earned the most international caps among Venezuela’s roster with 82.
- Midfielder Angel Chourio is Venezuela’s leading scorer among this roster with five goals in 17 games. Midfielder Alejandro Guerra is second with four goals in 35 career games.