The United States Men’s National Team takes the field for the first time in 2015 later on Wednesday at the Estadio El Teniente as they face off with Chile. This will be the ninth meeting all-time between the two nations and only the second in Chile. The only other meeting in the South American country was back on January 29, 2000 when the United States won 2-1 on goals from Eddie Lewis and Cobi Jones. Chile leads the all-time series with four wins, the United States has two wins, and there have been two draws.
As expected, the squad is an MLS-heavy roster with the league just getting their 2015 Pre-Season started. This match doesn’t fall on an official FIFA Window, therefore clubs are not required to release their players for international duty. For the full roster, click here.
The biggest news that has been leaking out is that Jurgen Klinsmann is experimenting with another formational change. Grant Wahl reported that Klinsmann has had the team playing in a 3-5-2 formation during their training sessions in southern California during the past week.
Reaction to the reported tactical change has been less than receptive as the fans are longing for Klinsmann to just stick with a system, like the 4-2-3-1 which helped them qualify for the World Cup as well as advance out of the “Group of Death.” What people seem to forget is that this is a friendly. This is the time for Jurgen Klinsmann to be trying adjustments especially in such an important year as this.
Is the 3-5-2 the thing of the future? No. What it is though is a formation that utilizes the strengths of the players called into the squad, most of whom are young players without a bunch of international experience. With players like Yedlin and Shea on the roster, Klinsmann has the speed that is needed from the wings. Those wing players do not have direct defensive help right behind them like they would in a four-man defensive line. It will be important for the wings, whomever they are, to get back into their defensive positions when needed.
The other positive about the 3-5-2 is how easily it can be modified to reflect an attacking or defensive approach. What the United States will likely do is play with two defensive minded center mids along with an attacking center mid in a triangle shape. If they need to press for a goal late, that triangle can be easily inverted to host two attacking minded players with the one defensive midfielder.
If they use the two defensive midfield set, it will also clog up more space in the center of the park right in front of the trio of center backs. This would force their opponents to attack from the wings with crosses into the center of the box. An aerial battle that will likely favor the Americans.
With all that being said, let’s take a look at this writer’s projected lineup for Wednesday’s friendly.
The starting goalkeeper and starting forward spots are the easiest to project. Rimando has the most experience of the goalkeeper pool with 16 caps and is the regular #3 goalkeeper for Jurgen Klinsmann. With Tim Howard and Brad Guzan both in Europe with their clubs, it is only fitting that Rimando gets the start.
Center Backs: (Right to Left):
Matt Hedges, Jermaine Jones, Matt Besler
Jermaine Jones and Matt Besler are locks in this spot. The question becomes who will be the third man back in the grouping. Steve Birnbaum, Matt Hedges, Perry Kitchen, and Shane O’Neill have zero caps between them. Given the importance for aerial battle wins and that Jones and Besler are just around 6-foot, Matt Hedges at 6-foot-4 gets the nod.
R: DeAndre Yedlin, L: Brek Shea
These two players immediately jump off the page as the wing position guys. DeAndre Yedlin has been used in the midfield by Jurgen Klinsmann in the last few National Team appearances. Brek Shea was a left winger when he played for FC Dallas and will likely play there for new club Orlando City SC. Shea is more of an attacking-minded player, we don’t know how his recovery runs are. That is why this writer put the experience of Matt Besler on the left side of the center back trio just in case Shea is caught up field.
Michael Bradley, Wil Trapp
Yes, you are reading that right. Wil Trapp with the start at defensive midfield and why not? He is 22 years old, coming off an excellent season with his club, and getting him in sync with Michael Bradley at this young age could be beneficial both now and in the long run. Trapp could the next incarnation of the American defensive midfielder. Of course he is small in stature but that has not been a problem when he is paired with a taller companion in the center midfield. Club mate Tony Tchani is 6-foot-4.
Don’t worry Lee Nguyen fans, he’ll see 30 minutes or so of action subbing on for Diskerud in the second half. Diskerud does have more international experience than Nguyen and is more likely to be involved in the Gold Cup squad as well as on the team when World Cup Qualifying starts later this year.
Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore
Dempsey has been a lock at this position since the provisional roster was announced. The biggest question was who would pair with him up front? Then Jozy Altidore joined Toronto FC and was subsequently called into camp. Sorry Chris Wondolowski.
Overall it is a very solid squad. 2015 is a big year with the Gold Cup this summer as well as World Cup Qualifying starting in the fall. This is the first of seven matches to be played by the team before the Gold Cup begins. This writer is much happier to see Jurgen Klinsmann trying out new ideas in these friendlies, aren’t they there for that reason?
Check back in for reaction following the friendly here on VAVEL USA.