TSG usually goes the route of trying to predict what the head coach, manager, or front office of some club will do. We remove (attempt to remove) personal biases and frankly it’s more important in our minds to initiate conversation with our audience on the observations seen to date.
With that said, we’ll take a mini-hiatus from that typical disposition and give you a list of what squad the collective we would call in to face the El Tri at their lofty and notoriously treacherous home adobo.
Jurgen Klinsmann is supposed to wait all the way until this weekend to announce the roster. The game is August 15th.
» The Azteca is an extremely difficult place to play at get a rhythm for obvious reasons. Therefore, a disposition to first team players as much as possible.
» Much like the Italy win, a US win will grab headlines and vault the USMNT program forward, even as Mexico are (perhaps) missing players at the Olympics. The US program could really use an outright win against a program that has seemingly leap-frogged them in CONCACAF.
» Per the previous point, will Mexico still be missing players? Will notorious Yank killer Gio Dos Santos be on hand to once again run “the Swivel” against the men from the north?
» We’ll pick players with Klinsmann’s Guatemala game plan in place. Manage early pressure, work for possession later in the halves.
G: Tim Howard, Nick Rimando, Dan Kennedy (over Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid)
The skinny: Tim Howard needs to be at the Azteca…for backline organization, to atone for the summer of 2009 when it wasn’t Howard’s strongest match. Nick Rimando again a capable understudy–especially as Mexico lacks pure aerial dominance, Big Nick’s height won’t come in to question.
TSG drops Brad Guzan who will be much better served being fully committed to his club competition at Aston Villa for the #1 role against Shay Given. Guzan has seen central America, an enlightening is not needed.
Enlightening (re: playing at Aztecz) is however needed for one of the other three names who all merit consideration. For TSG’s worth, Dan Kennedy is extremely underrated, athletically and mentality-wise. Both Hamid and Sean Johnson proved they need more seasoning and–concurrently–both are needed by their clubs who are in the playoff hunt. Chivas USA is probably out of it.
DEF: Carlos Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron (Clarence Goodson), Fabian Johnson, Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Edgar Castillo, (Eric Lichaj)
The skinny: The normal cast of characters for the most part. Oguchi Onyewu is replaced with his former World Cup battery mate Jay DeMerit who “merits” inclusion based upon his Chelsea showing and strong season. Surely DeMerit’s improved positioning will be preferred to Onyewu’s gaffes in that area.
We give Clarence Goodson a call because if Geoff Cameron is doing the Stoke thing, there needs to be someone familiar with Klinsmann’s game plan starting with Bocanegra
Eric Lichaj is a debatable inclusion at this point. Much like his club teammate Brad Guzan, Lichaj stands much to gain from being in camp and competing for starters minutes on Aston Villa’s right flank.
MID: Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Dax McCarty, Brek Shea
The skinny: Klinnsman likely goes with the same 3-man midfield that started against Guatemala. Maurice Edu is a chase player, looking to get the ball to the foot of Michael Bradley who either pings it up field or hits Jermaine Jones for some possession who is looking to slip a pass to a withdrawn Clint Dempsey.
We’re fine with that midfield. The final two selections won’t happen, but they’re our picks. Dax McCarty continues to be underrated in MLS. He’s got an engine. He’s fearless and his forward pass completion rate is tops in MLS.
Brek Shea– say what you will about the “outstanding issues” in Dallas–just needed a break. He’s got a long stride and some height. Two things that could come in very useful at the Azteca; plus he tore apart their defense the last time the two teams played last year at about this time in Philadelphia.
FWD: Clint Dempsey (Chris Pontius), Herculez Gomez, Landon Donovan, Terrence Boyd, Chris Wondolowski, Eddie Johnson
The skinny: No Jozy Altidore.
Many reasons for this including what is now known to be coming into the June camp in extremely poor form. Let Jozy’s club AZ Alkmaar get him into shape. The US needs someone up top who does the dirty work.
If Clint Dempsey doesn’t make it, Chris Pontius deputizes. The DC United forward is finally starting to round back into that shape that had pundits donning the label “special” just a few years ago.
Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. Eddie would go. And he will. Best time to bring Johnson in….when he’s in the right frame of mind and in a good mood essentially. Johnson has never lacked the tools; he’s just never put them together. Until now.