The U.S. plays Canada tonight, eight days before the Hex begins. This is an off-calendar international friendly, meaning the roster is limited to MLS-based players and European-based players with a winter break. This evening is more about individual performances than results. Some second-tier fellows will be hoping to do what Graham Zusi and Geoff Cameron did last year, play themselves into the qualifying and 2014 World Cup picture.
Watch the back four. Every place along that line for 2014 is open, or at least it should be. LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, 6’5″, returns to the national team fold after blowing out an ACL during a loan move to Germany last January. Another intriguing option could be Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler. The 25-year-old Notre Dame alum was MLS Defender of the Year in 2012, and can play at center or right back.
Monitor the production up front as well. MLS veterans Eddie Johnson and Chris Wondolowski want one last World Cup crack. There is also spry Bob Bradley favorite Juan Agudelo. The 20-year-old has done little in MLS, beyond courting interest from foreign clubs, but he should get some playing time. With Jozy Altidore on Klinsmann’s shit list and Herculez Gomez no more than solid, that position remains unsettled.
Traveling in Style Jurgen Klinsmann was commuting to Carson for USMNT training via helicopter, a helicopter he was piloting. That may be the most “California millionaire” move ever.
Complacency: Klinsmann also has been eradicating the culture of complacency surrounding the USMNT. If rhetoric can be believed, not even Dempsey and Donovan are safe. Belittling your players’ achievements is a bold motivational strategy. Perhaps, Klinsmann can get away with it, having won the World Cup and European Championship with Germany and having been named player of the year in both the EPL and Bundesliga. That said, one could criticize Klinsmann’s managerial career in a similar fashion. He has been coddled for modest achievements. He has won nothing.
[Photo via Getty]