United States: Jurgen Klinsmann Must Be Wary of Yellow Cards vs. Costa Rica

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 05:  USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann looks on prior to the start of the game against Guatemala at Qualcomm Stadium on July 5, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

On Friday night in San Jose, Costa Rica, the United States men's national team will embark on their second most difficult road trip of the hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. 

There is plenty to be excited for on Friday night, from the return of Landon Donovan to the "A" team, to the potential 100th appearance made by Clint Dempsey.

Oh, and there is also the world's longest winning streak of 12 matches that is on the line, as well.

While extending the winning streak to a lucky number of 13 and getting the monkey off of their back in Costa Rica is nice, there are plenty of concerns about this specific American match, most of them dealing with yellow cards.

Eight key American players, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Tim Howard, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Dempsey, will all be suspended if they are handed a yellow card at the National Stadium in San Jose. 

With that in mind, it may be best for manager Jurgen Klinsmann to save his best squad for Tuesday's showdown of epic proportions with the Yanks' main CONCACAF rival, Mexico, in a stadium where the Americans have recently dominated El Tri.

The most important conclusion from Tuesday's match in Columbus could be the clinching of a World Cup berth in front of the home fans. 

Having the prospect of clinching a spot in Brazil in front of the boisterous support of the American Outlaws is a tempting one, but we all know that Klinsmann is all about going for the jugular in every match, no matter what the circumstances are. 

Despite his all-in mentality, Klinsmann must be aware of the yellow cards as he picks his lineup on Friday. 

Based on the style of play that is expected on Friday, at least one of those eight players will end up recording a yellow card, with Jones being the most likely based on his track record. 

While it is admirable of Klinsmann to go all-in on Friday night, the reality is Tuesday's match will mean more to the fans, and even more to the players, although it is something that will never be admitted.

If a star like Dempsey or Altidore picks up a careless yellow in a match where the Yanks would be happy with a draw, it would be a massive shame for either one of the stars to miss the biggest rivalry in North America. 

Klinsmann can not bench all eight of those players, but with plenty of depth everywhere on the roster, it could be worth while to bench a few select players. 

One of those players is Altidore, whose status is shrouded in mystery. In recent matches, there has not been a viable to the forward, but now there are two in the form of Aron Johannsson and Eddie Johnson. 

Depth in the midfield could also help ease Klinsmann's concerns as Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud have had good showings recently for the Stars and Stripes. 

Diskerud could easily replace Jones in the starting 11 alongside Bradley, who is a lock to start every match from here on out. 

Bedoya, or Graham Zusi, could be in starting consideration on the wings instead of Dempsey, but one has to assume Klinsmann wants to see how his two best players, Dempsey and Donovan, will combine as soon as possible. 

At the back, either Cameron or Evans will have to start at right-back, and if one of the duo does pick up a yellow, the other will most likely step in against Mexico. 

Fabian Johnson could be the easiest of the eight to leave on the bench with the return of Donovan to the midfield and DaMarcus Beasley's stability at left-back. 

As for Howard, he should start in goal on Friday, and unless he loses his cool with the referee about a controversial call, he will be just fine.

With all that being said, Klinsmann has to be aware of the yellow card issues, but he does owe it to the fans and himself to put the best 11 players out on the pitch, regardless of the potential suspensions that lie in front of his team. 


Do you think Klinsmann should be conservative against Costa Rica or go all-in? 

Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90.