US vs. Guatemala: 6 Things Jurgen Klinsmann Should Try in Friendly
In preparation for their Gold Cup opener against Belize on July 9, the United States men’s national team will take on Guatemala in a friendly this Friday.
Fielding largely a “B” squad for the tournament, the Gold Cup competition one year out from the World Cup gives the U.S. and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann a great opportunity to find some depth for the U.S. roster. It also gives several fringe players an opportunity to prove their worth and work their way onto the “A” roster.
That being said, here are six things Klinsmann should consider trying in the match.
Give Brek Shea a Full Run-out
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Even though Brek Shea is not on the Gold Cup roster, he will be a part of the squad that faces Guatemala on Friday.
Since he won’t have a chance to play in the Gold Cup, Jurgen Klinsmann should give Shea the start against Guatemala and see what he can do over 90 minutes.
Shea has been a frequent call-up of Klinsmann despite never really putting together a good run of form for either club or country in the last two years. Sure, he had two bright moments against Mexico in friendlies, one in 2011 and another in 2012, but that is all he has produced in 12 caps under Klinsmann.
Shea was largely a distraction for FC Dallas in 2012, and after his move to Stoke in the January transfer window, he was unimpressive in his limited appearances for the English side.
Considering that Klinsmann will have a difficult time explaining another call-up for Shea if he should falter at Stoke this season, Klinsmann should give Shea the start against Guatemala and, perhaps, his last big chance to prove his worth to the national team for 2014.
Start Edgar Castillo
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After a strong season with Club Tijuana in Liga MX over the past year, many thought that Edgar Castillo would have become a bigger part of the national team set-up by now.
However, Castillo has been beset by a run of bad luck.
He missed the March World Cup qualifiers because he broke three bones in his face just prior to the camp while playing for his club, and a conflict with the Copa Libertadores made him a late arrival for this summer’s May/June camp.
Put on as a second-half substitute against Germany less than 48 hours after playing 90 minutes against Atletico Mineiro, Castillo was poor and was not given another chance in June. DaMarcus Beasley locked up the left-back slot between his performances in March and the June World Cup qualifiers, and Castillo’s good run of form with his club was largely forgotten.
Now that the U.S. has an opportunity in the Gold Cup and against Guatemala on Friday to find some depth for its historically weak left-back spot, Castillo should be given the chance.
Split Halves at the Center-Midfield Position
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One of the truly exciting facets of the Gold Cup roster are the options the U.S. has at the center midfield position. In fact, they have so many options that it will tough to find everyone playing time.
Kyle Beckerman is the only true holding midfielder on the U.S. roster and will most likely play the No. 6 role. With Stuart Holden, Mix Diskerud and Jose Torres, Jurgen Klinsmann should give two of the three exciting prospects a full half partnered with Beckerman in the midfield to prove their worth.
Because Holden, Diskerud and Torres would all be the longest of long shots to replace either Jermaine Jones or Michael Bradley in the U.S. midfield, each should also be given a look on the wing. The U.S. has struggled to find consistent wide play during Klinsmann’s reign, and, even though it is not their natural position, Torres, Diskerud and Holden could all potentially provide some depth on the wing for the U.S.
See What Alejandro Bedoya Can Provide
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In the 2011 Gold Cup, Alejandro Bedoya was one of the more exciting players for the U.S. and looked to have locked down a spot for himself on the U.S. roster.
However, Bob Bradley was fired shortly after the Gold Cup, and Bedoya’s move to Rangers resulted in little playing time at the club level. As a result, Bedoya fell into the abyss of the U.S. player pool.
In 2012, Bedoya left Rangers for Helsingborg in Sweden and has scored ten goals for the club in his 10 months there.
Now, one year out from the World Cup, it is time Bedoya is given another chance to prove what he can do with the national team.
Play Joe Corona at the No. 10 Position
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Joe Corona has received many call-ups in the Jurgen Klinsmann era, but has only played four minutes. Unbelievably, those four minutes of playing time have been spread across three caps.
The Gold Cup and the preparation friendly against Guatemala is an opportunity for Corona to show what he can do for the USMNT. Assuming Klinsmann sticks with the 4-2-3-1 he has preferred to use over the U.S.’ last seven games, Corona is the best option on the U.S. roster to play behind the striker in these upcoming games.
Sort out the Depth at Right-Back
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With so many talented players available for the U.S. at right-back, it is shocking to see how unsettled the depth chart is at that position for the U.S.
Stalwart Steve Cherundolo looks to be finally feeling his age and recently underwent a second knee operation after originally injuring himself last spring while playing for his club, Hannover.
Timmy Chandler’s commitment to the U.S. still remains a question mark, and the U.S. was forced to rely on Seattle Sounders’ midfielder Brad Evans to deputize at the right-back position in June.
Michael Parkhurst once looked to have the No. 2 spot locked down for the U.S. at right-back and even made the Champions League Team of the Week this past fall while playing for Nordsjaelland. However, a January move to Augsburg was a disaster as Parkhurst saw only two appearances for the German club.
Klinsmann should use the friendly against Guatemala, as well as the rest of the Gold Cup, to take a long look at both Michael Parkhurst and Michael Orozco Fiscal to sort out who is a better option for the U.S. going forward.
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