The Yanks’ first of three World Cup tune-up begins with tonight’s friendly against Azerbaijan at 10pm EST. I usually refuse to call any game a “friendly” (“exhibition” is my nomenclature of choice), but considering Jurgen Klinsmann’s pseudo-number two/mentor Berti Vogts manages Azerbaijan, I suppose “friendly” actually fits the bill for once.
You’ll be disappointed if you’ve come here looking for a scouting report on the Milli, because I wouldn’t be able to find the former Soviet country on a map, much less provide any footy insight. With an easy win assumed even by the technical staff, people seem less concerned with the opposition and far more eager to play judge and jury with the Stars and Stripes’ development.
The debate is far from over, but the bloodletting officially is and this is the 23 that, barring injury, will be heading to The Big Show. While we know who will be going to Brazil we still don’t know how exactly the team will line up and, apparently, neither does Mr. Klinsmann. Depending upon your predisposition, this level of uncertainty is either all part of the plan or full-fledged insanity. Frankly, I’m feeling a little bit like this, but, then again, I’d rather eat vanilla ice cream while watching the roller coaster from a park bench than strap myself in for the ride.
One man we know (or at least think we know) will be starting against Ghana is Clint Dempsey and the dude with the armband can count SnoopDog amongst his fans. Deuce has shown himself to be quite the freestyler, maybe this will lead to some kind of collaboration.
Let’s stick with “collaboration” as the key word for tonight’s game as it’s the partnerships up and down the Yanks’ spine that will determine their fate in the Amazon.
Up top, it’d be great to see Jozy bag a few exhibition goals and clear the Black Cats from his head. He and Deuce are far from strangers, hopefully we’ll see some nice interplay between the two.
In the center of the park, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley have a definite Odd Couple thing going on and I believe I’m far from alone in wishing it were Kyle Beckerman’s dreadlocks next to the Bald Eagle. Unless Christmas comes in June, that won’t be the case and, unless Christmas comes in June, we’ll still see Jones recklessly stray from his holding position.
At the back, it seems likely that the Matt Besler-Omar Gonzalez tandem that we rode through qualifying will have the dubious pleasure of being berated by Tim Howard. Then again, Gonzalez has struggled with both form and fitness in 2014, Geoff Cameron has clearly been taken as a center back, and, apparently, Brad Evans spent his brief time in camp almost exclusively playing center back.
Last week, I took a stab at predicting the right back depth chart – this was proven to be a wild swing in the dark. Both DeAndre Yedlin and Timmy Chandler made the team (I thought they’d be home) and, at this point, Fabian Johnson could line up anywhere on the field and I wouldn’t blink.
Everything Julian Green does will be scrutinized six times over, he should get used to this.
I’m excited to see Aron Johannsson play. Greg would be better placed than I to critique where he fits into this attack, but I’d like to see him given minutes at both the advanced striker and second striker positions over these three games.
Fin. Let me know what I got wrong below.