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A look at players who could earn a look for the USMNT-Puerto Rico friendly

Photo by Peter G. Aiken/ USA Today Sports
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/ USA Today Sports

Prior to participating in this summer’s Copa America, the U.S. Men’s National Team is scheduled for a trio of friendlies, the first of which will present Jurgen Klinsmann with a unique opportunity.

The USMNT is scheduled to take on Puerto Rico on May 22 in the first of the team’s three Copa America tune-ups. The match comes six days into the USMNT’s pre-Copa camp, but will be played without domestic players as MLS additions filter in throughout the following week.

Klinsmann will have a full complement of European and Mexican-based players, and one would expect regulars like Fabian Johnson, John Brooks and Bobby Wood to get extended minutes in the absence of their MLS counterparts. However, with only 21 players, including three goalkeepers, from the Copa America roster eligible, Klinsmann is also expected to sprinkle in some outside European and Mexican-based additions to help make up the numbers, and perhaps even get looks with the senior team.

The primary candidates come from the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team. Jerome Kiesewetter and Emerson Hyndman were both seen as potential additions to the preliminary roster, but missed out in favor of more experienced options. The two U-23 stars have shined on the youth level with the U.S. and earned tastes of the senior game, making them solid candidates to earn another look from Klinsmann in Puerto Rico and throughout the 2016 campaign. In addition, another young USMNT veteran in Rubio Rubin could leap back into the picture after recently overcoming the injury woes that kept him away from the U-23 qualifying run.

Another player that may join his U-23 teammates is Paul Arriola, who has shined in recent years with both the U.S. youth squads and Mexican side Club Tijuana. At 21-years-old, Arriola has been a player on the cusp of earning a senior call-up for some time and one would assume Klinsmann himself would want a closer look at some time in the near future.

Following in the footsteps of fellow Bundesliga prospect Christian Pulisic, Russell Canouse also appears to be a player nearing a chance with the senior team. The 20-year-old recently made his first team debut for Bundesliga club Hoffenheim after impressing with the club’s reserve team and could be fast-tracked to the senior team if he continues to make waves with his club.

Finally, there is one wild card that Klinsmann has certainly hinted to in the form of Fafa Picualt. The St. Pauli forward surged onto the USMNT’s radar with his performances in the 2. Bundesliga in recent weeks, drawing praise from Klinsmann himself on social media. It’s a safe bet that Picault gets a look before end of the year, and the upcoming Puerto Rico friendly could present the perfect opportunity for Klinsmann to assess Picault up close and personal.

With a roster to trim ahead of this summer’s tournament, Klinsmann has several decisions to make in the coming weeks. While it may seem a bit inconsequential compared to a tournament as prestigious as the Copa America, the upcoming Puerto Rico friendly could prove a vital stepping stone for several players looking to establish themselves as USMNT regulars heading into the second half of the World Cup cycle.


    • It wouldn’t surprise me if Kiesewetter was brought in either, but he hasn’t played for his club since before Christmas, just the four US games are his only game action.

  1. MLB just cancelled games that were scheduled there due to Zika virus concerns. Wonder if this game will get cancelled or moved to the US?

  2. Fafà Picault!

    Teams will cower, defenses will wilt and goalkeepers will crumble upon seeing Fafà on the back of the USA kit. Bring on the one name potential and lead us to the promised land!

    (is this guy any good?)

  3. Ethan Horvath will for sure not be there – yes he’s in Europe, but unlike the others he will be in season. Also, Liga MX players who make the semifinals of their tournament will also be not there – Castillo, Alvarado & Gonzalez’s teams are currently 1,2, and 3 in the league.

    I definitely expect to see Hyndman & Picault (although I think that’s premature), and wouldn’t be surprised to see Kiesewetter. I think it’s unlikely that Rubio Rubin will be allowed to go, given he missed almost the entire year through injury and just came back. I could also see Gil, Zelalem, or Carter-Vickers getting called in (opinions aside – I could just see that happening). I think all three of those are more likely than Canouse for sure, and probably Arriola as well.

    One name many have forgetten about recently is Jordan Theoson Siebatcheu. He’s no shoo-in by any means, but it’s funny how quickly people became interested and then disinterested in him. I would certainly at least be inquiring if I were Jurgen, but I certainly don’t expect him to be around.

    • Luke – While I’d like young players to be brought in for the PR game in order to see how they may/may not fit in with the team, but some of the players you’ve mentioned either aren’t ready or are dealing with injuries….
      Gil – Hasn’t been seeing time with his club team in Mexico for a while now. IMO he’s not ready to move into consideration.
      Zelalem – has a lot of potential but I just don’t think he’s ready for the Sr. side just yet. I think he’s another player who needs another season of play/maturity before he’s ready for consideration.
      Carter-Vickers – last I heard he’s been dealing with an injury (Back), which kept him out of the U-23 playoff games back in March.
      Siebatcheu Vs. Picault – I’d rather see Siebatcheu called up than Picault. To me Siebatcheu has the greater potential, and better fits a need that we have (Backup to Jozy) while I don’t see Picault
      ever making an impact. Let Haiti have him.

    • Talking about forgotten names, it would help if Aron Johannsson wasn’t injured. He has been out since last October, wonder if we will ever see him again.

    • Siebatcheu has been demoted to Reims II which plays in like the 5th division. Scored three early for the first team and then nothing.

  4. Looking at the players available from the preliminary Copa Roster (European & Liga MX) that will make up the initial roster for the match against Puerto Rico there are plenty of defensive options but few attacking players….

    Keepers: Guzan, Howard, Horvath
    Defenders: Alvarado, Brooks, Cameron, Castillo, Chandler, Gonzalez, Lichaj, Miazga, Orozco, Ream, Yedlin
    Midfielders: Bedyoa, Fabian, Kitchen, Morales, Pulisic, Williams,
    Strikers: Wood,

    You have to believe that a couple additional attacking players have to be added in order to balance out the team. Based on the limited number of attacking players that the US has in Europe and Mexico at this time there are only a couple players who would make since to be added……
    Arriola (Wide Midfielder/forward), Rubin (Withdrawn forward), Kiessewetter (Forward/Wide Midfielder), Rodriguez (Target forward), Wooten (Forward/Wide Midfielder),
    Hyndman (Midfielder), Fafa (Forward),

    Considering the level of the opposition we’re facing I’d rest Bedoya, Cameron & Fabian (older veterans who we know what we’ve got with). I’d drop Orozco completely since he’s been CRAP for a good long while. Brooks will likely need to play in order to get him game ready as he continues to recover from his latest injury. Add Arriola, Kiessewetter, Hyndman, & Rodriguez to round out the team. I doubt we see it, but I’d love to see something along the following……


    Subs: Kitchen for Williams, Arriola for Kiessewetter, Rodriguez for Wood, Rubin for Pulisic,
    Chandler for Yedlin,

    • I could definitely get behind that lineup against PR. I’d like to see Horvath in net though. At this point we know what we’re getting with Howard/Guzan. Give the young gun a chance as he most likely won’t be in the final 23 for Copa (Bingham gets that nod in my books) and Guzan & Howard will probably split the other two friendlies.

      • Horvath is in season and will not be there. The other European guys will be there because their seasons will be over. Horvath, although in Europe, is on a summer schedule just like MLS and will not be released early.

      • I would like for Horvath to get the start, but I don’t think he’ll be released in time for his participation in the PR game. I chose Guzan to start over Howard, as I believe he may need to a boost to his Confidence after the poor season that AV has had. A major win without giving up a goal would be good for him in advance of the tournament.

  5. Hopefully several of the younger players will be called in to be looked at and possibly get into a match. Would love to see Arriola, Hyndman or Rubio to see if they’ve progressed. If not any of those 3, I would love to see Lletget get a call.

    • I’d love to see Lletget at some point as well. Keep in mind though, the whole reason for bringing other players to this PR game is that the MLS players won’t be available!

    • Any momentum Lletget had last-season has been derailed by both his injuries this season, and the fact that even when not injured Bruce Arena doesn’t consider Lletget an automatic starter anymore. If he cant consistently start games for the Galaxy anymore, then a USMNT appearance becomes less likely.

      Keane, Dos Santos, Zardes, Boateng, Magee, etc are sometimes leaving Lletget on the bench.

      • Huh? Do you watch the Galaxy every week? Unless he’s injured or being rested, Seba is one of the first names on the team sheet. Nothing has changed in regards to his place in the side. Boateng has been in good vein of form, but Sebastian is the better player, and is the first choice on either wing.

      • Doesn’t really matter since the Galaxy have a game at the Home Depot Center that night.

      • Getting inconsistent minutes for club was JK’s calling card for omitting players to the press but he hasn’t stuck to those guns when you consider he has consistently called in players that haven’t been playing for club. My point is that considering his actions, not his words, JK will not let limited game time for club affect his callups so i think Lleget will get a look at some point.

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