USA vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina: Americans Who Must Prove Worth to Jurgen Klinsmann
With the clock ticking down toward the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the United States men's national team should be taking advantage of any opportunity they get. That includes Wednesday's friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina will bring a lot to the table, coming in at No. 13 in the latest FIFA rankings. Meanwhile, the U.S. is back at 19th while riding an 11-game winning streak.
The Americans certainly have the momentum coming off a dominating stretch in the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this summer, but there are plenty of moving parts, and Klinsmann is searching for concrete members of his 23-man squad to send to Brazil next summer.
Let's take a look at the players who are in the biggest need of a positive performance on Wednesday against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The 29-year-old forward showed out in the Gold Cup with two goals in the tournament, emerging as the best attacker on the pitch short of Landon Donovan. But he's still got work to do if he wants to secure playing time next summer.
After failing to score a goal with Fulham in 19 appearances, he left the Premier League in 2011 to return to Major League Soccer. Since, he's become an elite player in the league with 18 goals in 40 caps.
The Seattle Sounders goalscorer has played both up top and on the wing for the Americans, but he excelled in a striking position at the Gold Cup. Of course, the level of competition will be heightened incredibly from what he saw in that tournament.
Can Johnson prove to have the same impact offensively against better competition? Will his experience—being on the national team since 2004 and notching 56 caps—outweigh the potential of some youngsters at his position?
That's what Klinsmann wants to know before he can feel comfortable putting stock in Johnson's big Gold Cup.
One of the players who could swoop in and take playing time right from underneath Johnson is Aron Johannsson.
The 22-year-old was cleared by FIFA to switch national teams from Iceland to the United States, via Fox Sports. He was born in the States, but he moved to his parents' native country of Iceland when he was 3.
Johannsson recently arrived at club AZ of the Netherlands, which fellow American Jozy Altidore recently departed from. The youngster has already done well to replace the striker, notching five goals in his first seven caps, including a game-winning penalty against Ajax.
The Americans hope he can channel some of that early success against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday.
If Klinsmann has any aspirations to get Johannsson plugged into his World Cup plans, he'll have to move quickly to get him acclimated with the system. Expect him to give Johannsson every opportunity to do that.
It's hard to find a player who has impressed coaches more in the past few months than defender Fabian Johnson, but his absence as of late will leave him with something more to prove.
Which player will be the most valuable next summer?
Johnson's versatility is what makes him so valuable to Klinsmann's squad, but now it's time for him to show the coaches that he can handle the rigors of manning one starting spot in the long term.
The 25-year-old primarily plays as a left-back and winger, but he's shown promise on both ends of the defense and as a winger who can get up the pitch in a hurry.
Klinsmann will be looking for stability from Johnson to see where he best fits in the system.
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