USMNT: Why Match Against Russia Means More Than Just Getting a Result

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 12, 2012

On Wednesday, Jurgen Klinsmann will lead the United States Men's National Team into the Kuban Stadium in Krasnodar, Russia to take on one of Europe's better sides.

It will mark the fifth time under Klinsmann that the Americans will play on European soil.

The last time the USMNT ventured into Europe in February, they came out of Genoa with a 1-0 win over Italy.

Wednesday's trip to Russia will not be about getting a result against a difficult team managed by the legendary Fabio Capello, it will be about the development of some of America's brightest talents.

The Russia match is a perfect time to see what the younger Americans can do, because once the calendar turns over to 2013, the focus will be on qualifying for the World Cup.

The United States usually uses two friendlies in January to develop their younger players, like they did this year against Venezuela and Panama, but there are no friendlies on the schedule this January with the final round of World Cup qualifying starting on February 6.

That leaves Wednesday's match as the match that Klinsmann can use to develop the players that may feature during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup next summer.

The players that were named to the United States roster are a mix of national team regulars as well as younger players who could play a role in the next year.

The biggest surprise when the roster was announced on Monday was the return of Timothy Chandler, who has finally chosen to play for the United States over Germany.

The 22-year-old right back is seen as one of the faces of the national team for the next decade, and he will be getting back into the swing of things on Wednesday against Russia.

Given all the troubles that the American defense has had over the past few months in World Cup qualifying, the addition of Chandler will be a huge boost for next year's matches.

Besides Chandler, the only other defender named to the squad under the age of 25 is Fabian Johnson, who is a known quantity and will also be part of the qualification process next year.

The main position that Klinsmann will have an eye on will be the midfield as he named three players with bright futures to the squad for Wednesday.

The player with the most potential out of those three is Josh Gatt, who just won the Norwegian Tippeligaen title with Molde over the weekend.

Gatt has appeared on the radar of the national team over the past two seasons as he has developed as a player at Molde under the guidance of the club's manager and former Manchester United star, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.

If the 21-year-old plays on Wednesday, he will earn his long-awaited first appearance for the United States after he pulled out of the two October matches with an injury.

Another player who can earn his first appearance for the United States on Wednesday is 20-year-old Joe Gyau.

Gyau is one of three players on the roster from the Bundesliga club Hoffenheim—Johnson and Danny Williams are the other two.

The 20-year-old is on loan from the Bundesliga club at St. Pauli in the second division in Germany.

Gyau is not close to earning a spot on the United States roster on a permanent basis yet, but his progression this season at St. Pauli has earned him a call-up for Wednesday's match.

The other young midfielder on the roster is Mix Diskerud, who has been a player on the outside looking in for a year or two now.

Diskerud signed for Rosenborg in Norway this year and has helped them into a spot in the top three with one game left in the Tippeligaen season.

United States fans may not see these three players for a while after February, as midfield is the most crowded position that the Americans have.

However, these three midfielders could be the focal point of the Gold Cup squad along with forward Juan Agudelo.

During the Bob Bradley era, Agudelo skyrocketed from the youth ranks into the senior team and he has already made 15 appearances at the age of 19.

Agudelo has been absent from the United States squad because of his inability to find form and playing time in MLS.

After being rescued from sitting on the bench with the New York Red Bulls by Chivas USA in May, Agudelo finally was able to secure a consistent amount of playing time with the second worst team in MLS.

Agudelo's determination to find first-team play and be in form has led him back to the national team roster, where he now sits behind Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez and Terrence Boyd on the depth chart.

Out of the five young players named to Klinsmann's squad for the Russia match, Agudelo is the one who is most likely not to see any playing time, but his inclusion in the 20-man roster means he is back on Klinsmann's radar and he could be counted on to start up front in the Gold Cup this summer.

Although most of the younger players are expected to be saved for the Gold Cup this summer, these five young American stars should be put out on the pitch on Wednesday to not only show Klinsmann what they are worth, but prove to the fans of American soccer that the future is indeed bright.


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