When Team USA’s men’s national team travels to Krasnodar to take on the Russian national team in an international friendly, these two Cold War foes will both be trying to discover more about their own squads than their opposition’s players and schemes.
With World Cup qualifying starting to heat up and the ever-changing American roster starting to take form, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is looking to find the right combination of stars to give his side a legitimate chance at not only qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, but making a serious impact on the tournament.
That process starts with the friendly against a Russian squad looking to figure its own issues out.
While fans of the sport would love for this to be a memorable matchup, this is not the match that will be remembered for generations.
Where: Kuban Stadium, Krasnodar, Russia
When: Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 9:50 a.m. ET
Watch: ESPN 2
USA Player to Watch: Jozy Altidore, Striker
The biggest addition to this roster will be American star Jozy Altidore returning to the national team after playing the last season with the Dutch squad AZ Alkmaar. After having great success with that side, Altidore looks to carry that momentum to Team USA.
Despite Altidore’s goal-scoring prowess and knack for getting clean shots around the net, the young star hasn’t played with the American side since 2011. His last goal in international play came almost exactly one year ago (Nov. 15, 2011 versus Slovenia).
The key for Team USA will be implementing the powerful striker into the lineup and watching how he reacts and gels with his teammates. Klinsmann must find where each of the squad’s stars is best suited and how well each develops a rapport with those around him on the pitch.
Prediction: USA 3, Russia 1
With Tim Howard in net for the Americans and a defensive group that gets back a stud in Timmy Chandler, the clear advantage of talent goes to Team USA.
There are still serious questions about how the squad will gel on the offensive end, but there is just too much talent on the pitch to allow Russia to walk away with the win, even if the match is played in Krasnodar.
As long as the talent buys into Klinsmann’s offensive concepts and schemes and takes this friendly as serious as they should, not only will Team USA win the actual match against Russia, they will be on the right track to being a serious contender at the 2014 World Cup.