By FRANCO PANIZO
Finding the right balance between fielding an experimental lineup and one capable of grabbing a result. That is what Jurgen Klinsmann is tasked with as a new World Cup cycle officially gets underway on Wednesday.
The U.S. Men’s National Team is set to play its first post-World Cup friendly with a match against the Czech Republic in Prague, and Klinsmann has to decide which combination of players will allow him to get a good look at some of the many unproven youngsters he’s summoned while also giving the Americans a solid shot at picking up a victory on European soil.
While Klinsmann has included several youngsters in his 21-man roster – initially 22 before Geoff Cameron had to withdraw because of injury – it seems unlikely that he will go with a largely inexperienced starting lineup. Instead, it seems more probable that Klinsmann deploys one or two youngsters before inserting a few more as the game goes on.
Which players will Klinsmann turn to then? Here is a projected lineup SBI could see taking the field on Wednesday:
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP vs. CZECH REPUBLIC
Some thoughts on this lineup:
Brad Guzan seems likely to get the initial nod in goal, but Klinsmann stated Tuesday that both Guzan and Nick Rimando will play 45 minutes each vs. the Czech Republic as the competition for the vacant No. 1 spot begins.
The back four could be the most experienced part of the Americans’ lineup given the personnel in Prague. Fabian Johnson should continue to see time at the right back spot that he thrived in for the U.S. this summer while Timmy Chandler starts at the left back spot that he was used in at times during the send-off series. Michael Orozco and John Brooks start in the heart of the defense, but Tim Ream could be inserted at halftime or the 60-minute mark for Brooks given Klinsmann’s propensity for playing a left-footed defender at left centerback and a right-footed player at right centerback.
The midfield appears to be the area where at least one uncapped youngster who could feature from the get-go. We believe the player most likely to earn a start is Emerson Hyndman, who has shown some real promise at the start of Fulham’s season and who could easily interchange positionally with Mix Diskerud and Joe Corona in a three-man midfield.
Jozy Altidore, already confirmed to be the U.S. captain on Wednesday, should resume his role at the top of the attack. Alejandro Bedoya should be a shoo-in on one wing while Julian Green earns a chance to build on his goal-scoring outing in the World Cup by operating wide on the other flank.
Klinsmann could go a number of way with his substitutions, but Ream, Brek Shea, Greg Garza and Alfredo Morales all seem like safe bets to see some playing time. Youngsters like Joe Gyau, Rubio Rubin, Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris are also in contention to see the field, but only one or two them might see the field depending on Klinsmann’s approach.
What do you think of SBI’s projected starting lineup? Agree that Klinsmann starts a front three of Altidore, Bedoya and Green? Like the idea of a midfield triangle consisting of Diskerud, Corona and Hyndman?
Share your thoughts below.