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USMNT vs. Belize: A Look Ahead

USALineupVsGUA (ISIPhotos.com)

By IVES GALARCEP

How do you get pumped up for a match that you are supposed to win by multiple goals? For the U.S. Men’s National Team, motivation for tonight’s CONCACAF Gold Cup opener goes well beyond simply wanting a result. For every player taking the field, the match is their chance to not only earn more minutes in the Gold Cup, but also potentially move their name up the USMNT depth chart.

It would be wrong for the U.S. to overlook their opponent tonight, but all signs point to a comfortable victory a U.S. team with the weapons to overwhelm the tiny Central American nation. There will really be no excuse for the Americans not to put in a strong showing and the focus will be as much on developing a familiarity within the group as it will be on the actual result of the match.

What will be the key things to watch for tonight when the USA faces Belize (11pm, Fox Soccer Channel)? Here are some key things to watch:

USMNT vs. BELIZE: FIVE KEY QUESTIONS

1. WHERE WILL LANDON LINE UP?

Will he play on the right wing? Will he line up as a forward? How about underneath a lone striker? Donovan’s versatility makes him viable at a variety of spots and where he is deployed tonight should let us know where Klinsmann sees him long term.

2. WILL HOLDEN BE GIVEN THE STARTING NOD?

After his masterful outing vs. Guatemala, Stuart Holden has become the player most U.S. fans want to see moved into the starting lineup. The real question here is whether Klinsmann thinks he’s ready to go 90. If he doesn’t start tonight, it doesn’t mean he won’t be gradually moved into that role later in the tournament. Either way, Holden will have a big part to play in this Gold Cup.

3. CAN THE CENTERBACKS DOMINATE?

Maybe that’s a little ambitious. How about “Can the U.S. centerbacks play well and not look shaky”. Oguchi Onyewu and Clarence Goodson enter the Gold Cup essentially playing for the USMNT lives. A good tournament could ensure they are called in when World Cup qualifying rolls around in September. If either or both struggle, it could open the door for Carlos Bocanegra to return.

4. WILL BEASLEY SHINE AS CAPTAIN?

Sometimes players can see their play improve dramatically when handed the captain’s armband, and while Beasley was pretty solid in recent World Cup qualifiers, he showed signs against Guatemala of a player playing with supreme confidence and poised for a big Gold Cup. He has a chance to really boost his chances of remaining Klinsmann preferred left back option with a strong tournament.

5. HOW CLOSE IS SHEA TO BEING ALL THE WAY BACK?

Brek Shea wasn’t even going to play in the Gold Cup until an injury to Josh Gatt opened the door for him to join the team. Now, instead of fighting to impress new manager Mark Hughes at Stoke City, Shea will be looking to show Klinsmann that he can once again be the player Klinsmann once used to hand regular starts with the first team.

And here are some other questions USMNT fans will be hoping to have an answer to in the coming weeks at the Gold Cup:

Will Jack McInerney get some minutes?

Will Mix Diskerud get a chance to start?

Can Chris Wondolowski build on his first USMNT goal?

Will Kyle Beckerman play well enough to silence the hordes of USMNT fans critical of his place in the starting lineup?

Can Joe Corona break through and finally make a real impact on the national team?

Can Jose Torres reach the potential he showed as a young player worthy of  World Cup start in 2010?

—–

These are just a few of the questions to ponder both tonight and during the Gold Cup.

What questions are you hoping to see answered? Which of the above questions will you be paying the most attention to finding an answer?

Share your thoughts below.

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All

 

 

-Star opponent in Portland?

102 comments
  • Mig

    You can’t get pumped. You have to watch cuz it’s a tournament (albeit of only minor importance) but pumped? Nah. Turf field, tiny (although great country) opponent, b-squad. The sad truth is we have to watch it even if we really don’t want to.

    Like

      • Paul Miller

        That’s a little harsh. It is Belize and, in my neck of the woods, a game on way too late.

        Like

      • wandmdave

        Not saying someone should necessarily be judged for being less than thrilled by the late start or the opponent but if that qualifies someone as being an A-rate fan then the standards for be a hardcore fan are pretty low.

        Like

      • Mig

        uh…yeah. make sure to put your USMNT Action Figures away before bed.

        Like

      • dcpohl

        haha ok but not a minute before they win the world cup on my living room floor.

        Like

      • dcpohl

        Sorry for calling you out. I realize I was a bit rash in my original comment. I enjoyed the comeback.

        Like

      • Mig

        and btw, who did we play in the final on the living room floor?

        Like

      • Edwin in LA

        You guys are making me think I should not bother watching Comedy Central and just read more comments on SBI lol

        Like

      • Alex Dzierzynski

        If they had them I’d buy them all. Except the Jose Torres one…..

        Like

    • Joamiq

      In the words of John Locke (fictional), don’t tell me what I can’t do!

      And yeah, I’m pumped. Sorry to disappoint.

      Like

      • Mig

        Hey, it’s great if you can be pumped! I can’t but I’m old and cranky. Enjoy.

        Like

    • Alex Dzierzynski

      I get crazy pumped anytime the U.S. play. My day drags on up until kick off time. I love my country and I love my soccer so it just seems right to support them even if they were playing a YMCA U-6 team.

      Like

  • alex dzierzynski

    They should run the same formation they ran in qualifying with Donovan playing in Dempseys position and Holden out on the right. They could switch back and forth with both being versatile.

    Like

  • Ben Schenko

    The US should play LD up top with Gomez. Should move Torres to LM and sit Castillo. Holden has to start based on his play against Gua and honestly what has Beckerman done to earn the start? Mix deserves the chance.

    Like

    • Paul Miller

      That sounds about right, but note how much was made out of beating the Guatemalans.

      Like

  • Ryan nanez

    “Will Kyle Beckerman play well enough to silence the hordes of USMNT fans critical of his place in the starting lineup?” Never. Don’t care how he plays. He’s not a step in the right direction. He’s 2 steps back. actually probably more than that

    Like

  • EspinDOHla

    Well, even though it’s Belize, I think this quote from Ruperto Vicente, the president of the Belize Football Federation, would motivate me if I was playing against them!!!

    “I call on our national team to not only beat the United States but to humiliate the United States. It is your responsibility. It is your task.”

    Like

    • Paul Miller

      Man, what’s the old rule? You don’t say anything before a game that might get taped to a wall in your opponents locker room. Dumb@ss.

      Like

  • H-Town

    Kicktv.com has a tweet from Conrad with a lockeroom pic attached. They’re going with “Where’s Waldo” jerseys and 1980’s graphic design shield instead of awesome original/new shield. Terrible!

    Like

  • euroman

    Ives you are the only hater who thought Goodson & Gooch looked shaky. Open your eyes and don’t have heroes like every other fan.

    Like

    • Jamie Z.

      He is? I thought that was a pretty common observation among fans and pundits alike.

      Like

    • PetedeLA

      Shaky? That’s a euphemism if I ever heard one.

      Gooch looked like someone had played a practical joke on him (“Wait till he lifts up the blindfold and finds out we placed him on a soccer field in a real international soccer game!”) When you’re rusty and the rust doesn’t go away it means you’re just not that good anymore.

      In my opinion, Goodson deserves a chance, though.

      Unleash the Holden!

      Like

      • JB

        meh, I’m looking forward to seeing Gooch in for a few games and hopefully he will give OG some competition.

        Like

    • Roy

      Has “hater” become the most overused word in sports conversations? Jeez, a guy can be unhappy with someone’s performance without hating them. I think most of us haven’t been too excited about Gooch over the last few years, and Goodson’s career/performance arc is moving down–not up.

      Like

    • Scott

      um, no. I believe that was the more common thought process.They did look shaky, with Gooch looking the worse off of the two.

      Like

  • timmytwoshoezzz

    This 11:00 pm PT tv start is proving that Concacaf is every bit as stupid as MLS when it comes to putting their product on television.

    Like

    • Basic

      The world is bigger than the east coast Timmy. Not everything can be catered to you

      Like

      • nick

        That maybe, and while I have no problem with the occasional west coast game, the majority of people (viewership) lives on the eastern half of the country.

        If the NFL (Sunday nights and MNF) can start the games at 9EST, so can the USMNT.

        Like

      • shark

        The NFL also doesn’t host tournaments where they are forced into having double-headers during the work week.

        When were they supposed to start the first game? 3pm?

        Like

      • Joamiq

        A 7pm PT start would have made a lot more sense. That shouldn’t be inconvenient for the west coast, while asking east coasters to stay up until 1 am on a weeknight is pretty ridiculous.

        Like

      • Adi from Oregon

        Even though the Timbers & their college coach are doing fantastic this year, I believe there is plenty of gas left and timber available even for a BIG WIN by the USMNT & Herr Klinsmann!!

        Like

  • Zztoppppp

    If klinsmann doesn’t want Holden going a full 90 yet I would like to see Diskerud start over torres

    Like

  • Andrew In Tally

    This is off the topic but I have to have an answer. What does YSA chant mean? Heard its a problem for Red Bulls fans and was being chanted at the UNMNT game at Rio Tinto.

    Like

  • Jozy

    I’m going to impregnate my wife on the day Beckerman retires…. make it that much more memorable

    Like

  • alex dzierzynski

    My line-up for tonight4-2-3-1

    ••••Gomez••••
    ••••Shea•••• ••••Donovan•••• ••••Holden••••
    ••••Beckerman•••• ••••Mix••••
    ••••Beasley•••• ••••goodson•••• ••••Onyewu•••• ••••parkhurst••••
    ••••rimando••••

    Like

    • Paul Miller

      I like it, though I’d flip Donovan to the outside and put Holden (assuming he is ready for 90 on turf) in the middle.

      Belize will likely park the bus. All the more reason to pack the midfield and then let the middies confuse the bus with slanting runs, overlaps, etc. Plus, there’s always a chance we could frustrate Belize to come chase a little and open some space.

      Like

    • Paul Miller

      Doh… forgot about the moderation thing

      I like it, though I’d flip Donovan to the outside and put Holden (@ssuming he is ready for 90 on turf) in the middle.

      Belize will likely park the bus. All the more reason to pack the midfield and then let the middies confuse the bus with slanting runs, overlaps, etc. Plus, there’s always a chance we could frustrate Belize to come chase a little and open some space.

      Like

  • Paul

    Ives, I’ll take a shot at some of your questions:
    – Donovan is a withdrawn forward behind Gomez. Let him roam and create space.
    – Risky starting Holden on artificial turf with his knees. If he plays, limit the playing time. Split time with Mix.
    – I expect Onyewu to Impress. The shakiness was due to linking with Rimando. He dominates in the air, still defends well, and his size poses matchup problems for opponents. I think Goodson’s time has past. Parkhurst just plays to his strengths and within his physical abilities.
    – Beasley has earned the armband. Looking forward to his work linking with the midfield.
    – Shea is probably a sub. Not quite match fit. He’ll get better and more fit as the tourney progresses.
    – Until another MF is willing to do the thankless grunt work as well as Beckerman, he continues to start. He’s the lone true CDM on this roster. He is best available for the GC. Very doubtful for WC.
    – The MF competition is on the wings. That’s not a strength of Torres, and he’s a defensive liability.
    – The tryout is between Shea, Corona and Bedoya. Let’s evaluate after a few games.

    Like

  • Rags in DC

    Online stream? Am on vacation with my family. Got the kids to sleep, and the resort doesn’t offer fox soccer channel. Ugh.

    Like

  • Vman

    #USMNT starting lineup: Rimando; Parkhurst, Orozco-Fiscal, Goodson, Beasley ©; Beckerman; Corona, Diskerud, Torres; Donovan, Wondolowski

    Not sure about that midfield three…Wondo/ LD an interesting combo

    Like

  • PD

    I cannot wait to see how hysterical folks will be if this amounts to a close 1-0 USA win.

    Like

  • Nate Dollars

    the only thing beas “showed signs” of in the us-guate game, was getting beat several times by a subpar guatemalan winger (as he gets beat in every game he’s played at the back, some worse than others).

    one of the reasons i love beasley is that he gives everything for the team, no matter what he’s asked to do. however, he is not a international-caliber left back. if klinsmann is merely using the gold cup to get beasley experience at the position so that he can fill in for fabian johnson if need be, then i think it’s brilliant.

    if he’s asking beasley to be the ‘preferred left back option’, i think it’s a mind-boggling decision. fabian johnson was such a revelation for us because he provided us with the lock-down option at left back that we’ve needed for a decade. he is our top left back; let beasley play the wing like he was born to.

    Like

    • the unmistakeable Ronadinho

      I think its the former option. Would seem our best lineup would be with Fabian at LB and LD on the left wing. Beasley getting more experience at a fairly new position so he can fill in when/if he needs to.

      Like

      • PD

        Chandler also provided a huge boost playing further up the field. If Chandler actually gets his act together and claims that LB role (provided Cherundolo stays healthy) I don’t mind Bease as our # 2 LB

        Like

    • Joamiq

      Relax – this is not an issue. Beasley is not going to start over Johnson. If Beasley happens to start at LB, it will be with Johnson ahead of him at LM, and they’ll overlap so much that it won’t matter who starts where.

      Like

      • Nate Dollars

        while i would like that to be true, that certainly hasn’t been the case, at least on defense (which is, obviously, when defensive skill/positioning matters).

        when beasley=LB and fabian=LM, beasley has been in the deeper position far more often than fabian. i think that should be the rare exception, not the rule.

        Like

  • Mig

    This Costa Rica game looks like the US v Guatemala. Cuba getting tired, can’t press, Los Ticos start to find a lot of gaps. Also similar is that the announcers/commentators were saying CR had to make changes to break down Cuba. Just like Friday, all CR had to do was keep doing the same things until Cuba got tired.

    Like

  • Goalscorer24

    These games can be tricky because everyone expects the US to win, so even if you win there is no big wow in it. Since the Belize president is calling on his team to humiliate the US I hope we take it to them.

    Like

    • Mig

      I can imagine that in the Belize team meeting, the coach was informed of the President’s remarks and said “Wait. What? Humili…..oh F me.”

      Like

  • bryan

    why the F is Torres playing LM?!?! COME ON! how many times?! i absolutely wanted him to start over Beckerman after seeing his passing percentages, but i would rather have him on the bench then at LM. that is so annoying.

    i do love the Corona inclusion at RM though. and Fiscal replacing Gooch for this game is a good time to see him again.

    Like

  • Vic

    starting lineup: Wondo Donovan
    Torres Mixx Corona
    Beckerman
    Beasley Goodson Orozco Parkhurst

    Like

  • bryan

    why the F is Torres playing LM?!?! COME ON! how many times?! i absolutely wanted him to start over Beckerman after seeing his p@ssing percentages, but i would rather have him on the bench then at LM. that is so annoying.

    i do love the Corona inclusion at RM though. and Fiscal replacing Gooch for this game is a good time to see him again.

    Like

  • Brian

    Live chat for tonight’s game or does Belize not warrant it?

    So psyched Mixx will be cap tied!

    Like

  • Chupacabra

    Awesome music on the FSC opening segment . . . for a 1970s soap commercial, not a soccer match. Goodbye Fox Soccer, and good riddance.

    Like

  • Joamiq

    Re: #4, I suspected that this would be the case – that elevating Beasley to captain would result in him coming out and working even harder, motivated by Klinsmann recognizing his importance. When you think about it, it had to hurt his confidence a lot to be one of the US’s twin great young hopes back in 2002, and to excel in the Champions League early in his career, and then see his career stall while Donovan became the unquestioned leader of the team. It’s got to feel good for him to be in this position now. I’m a huge fan of his and I hope he keeps it up.

    Like

  • Jeff

    All this is nitpicking about individual players. For me, I’d like to see US as a team actually play JK’s stated style, from beginning to end, and manage the game as befits the difference between the two sides, beginning to end. Not just most of the time, the entire game.

    Like

  • Paul

    I bet few of us guessed this lineup. Let’s see how Belize handles three technically skilled MFs. JK is looking for possession tonight.
    I’m thinking JK already has a lineup in mind for Cuba. They looked underwhelming against Costa Rica. Might give some veterans a rest before Costa Rica.

    Like

  • markwriter

    These early Gold Cup games could not be a more ideal situation for 1st team players to ID themselves.

    Don’t understand the “should we care” meme at all, and it will naturally die as the US makes the final.

    Ives, you’ve been the media leader in refuting the “should we care” attitude and have done really well at setting up some questions to pay attention to… congrats.

    In my humble opinion the Klinsmann angle will really pop again after the Gold Cup, with an obvious positive or negative tinge based on the US’s results.

    You can contribute to that angle by writing about any changes in style Klinsmann has made since the Honduras loss in the spring vs. active choices Klinsmann has made to not change his approach and trust that it would work given more time.

    The number one job of any national coach is player selection, and it seems like Klinsmann has earned the player’s trust on that front. Why? A US-specific coach task is player development, and Klinsmann also seems to be doing well on that front. Why have his public challenges of both Altidore and Donovan turned out to be positives for the team? Etc. etc.

    Like

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