The U.S. men's national team will play its second match of 2010 in less than a week against El Salvador, and while the match is carrying much less buzz than future matches against the Netherlands, Turkey and the Czech Republic, it is important in its own right.
Some fans think the match is pointless. At least a few of the more cynical U.S. fans, particularly the ones who live on a steady diet of European soccer and loathe MLS, believe it's a waste of time, but the reality is that it has much more value than some want to realize.
My latest Fox Soccer piece goes into detail about next week's friendly, and why it matters. In short, the match is the last good chance some MLS standouts have to impress Bob Bradley and keep themselves in the race for a World Cup roster spot.
So what kind of lineup can we expect to see from the current U.S. squad in camp? Here is a lineup we could see taking the field in Tampa on Wednesday:
USA Projected Lineup vs. El Salvador
Might seem strange to have both Casey and Ching paired together, but something tells me we could see them as a tandem. If Bradley goes with a target forward-speed forward combo, I'll give the edge to a Ching-Findley pairing. (On second thought, I think we're more likely to see two pairings, one in each half, like Ching-Findley and Casey-Cunningham.)
McCarty as a starter might surprise, but he did get some playing time in the November friendlies. Kljestan in a central role is very possible.
The defense seems easy enough to project, can't imagine anyone but this group starting.
So what lineup would I like to see? Here's a starting XI I would put together:
Geoff Cameron was a standout centerback in MLS last season, but many (including Houston coach Dom Kinnear) believe right wing could be his best position on the international level. Whether he plays on the right, or centrally with Kljestan on the right, I would be interested in seeing this combination.
Chris Pontius is someone who needs to get a look, but I doubt he's going to get a start at this point.
Orozco doesn't have Wynne's speed but Wynne's poor positioning and inability to read the game well often negates his speed. Whether it's Orozco or even converted midfielder Brad Evans, it's time to somebody else on the right flank.
What lineup would you like to see the USA field against El Salvador? Will you be watching the match? Who do you see having a big game?
Share your thoughts below.