The United States Men’s National Team will be back in action Friday as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side faces St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Due to a combination of injuries and other factors, Klinsmann is using the clash with the small Caribbean nation –- which on paper should be a walkover -– to try out some different players in his squad.
Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes are both injured and will miss Friday’s game as well as Tuesday’s clash with Trinidad and Tobago. Meanwhile, Michael Bradley is suspended for Friday’s game and Jermaine Jones hasn’t played since July due to injury. Jon Brooks has been left out of the team so he can get his Bundesliga campaign with Hertha Berlin underway.
Brooks’ exclusion has provided another opportunity for Omar Gonzalez at center-back. The former LA Galaxy man has fallen out of favor with Klinsmann but was a regular in the Pachuca side that won the Liga MX title last May. Gonzalez will line up in a back four that contains such usual suspects as Fabian Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin, and Copa America standout Geoff Cameron.
With Klinsmann’s preferred midfield duo of Bradley and Jones unavailable, the German manager has a real opportunity to try something different. He’s recalled Sasha Kljestan to the side for the first time in over two years. But the NY Red Bulls man seems likely to start on the bench with Darlington Nagbe looking more in-line for a start in a midfield pairing with Alejandro Bedoya. Kyle Beckerman will presumably play the deep-lying role, screening the back four.
Toronto striker Jozy Altidore’s return to form should see him return to his regular spot leading the attack. With any luck, Altidore will be flanked by the likes of Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood. Altidore has five goals in eight games for his MLS side, while Wood found the net last week in his Bundesliga debut with Hamburg.
While Pulisic has yet to feature for Borussia Dortmund this season, the 17-year-old is one of the brightest young talents on the team and has the potential to play a significant role in the Yanks’ World Cup qualifying campaign. Klinsmann should start him.
Brad Guzan is expected to start in goal with Tim Howard riding the bench.
The U.S. heads into Friday’s match sitting second in its group on seven points. A win on Friday could see the Yanks qualify for the Hexagonal, depending on how group leaders Trinidad and Tobago fair against Guatemala.