It is evaluation time again for the USMNT as the Americans head over to Paris to take on Les Bleus. After a disappointing start to the Jurgen Klinsmann era, US fans are hoping for a more promising result against a depleted French side that recently qualified for Euro 2012.
Both teams have relatively unusual rosters for this international friendly, but I am here to state which of the players you should keep the spotlight on the next couple of hours. Here is a list of the seven players you must watch during this much-anticipated international friendly. Enjoy!
Though he may not be a household name yet, the US will surely know Sakho’s name by the end of Friday night. The French defender is an absolute rock in the back for PSG, leading his club team to a league-leading 0.8 goals allowed per game average. Though a move to more competitive league may be a few years away, you should start getting to now Sakho’s name now.
Rumored by many to be Cesc Fabregas’ successor at Arsenal, Martin is definitely a prodigy worth your attention. The small Frenchman led Ligue 1 in assists last year with 19 for Sochaux (the next highest was 12) and has the distributing ability to pick apart any defense that he plays. Martin’s creativity means bad news for the sometimes-clueless USMNT defense.
After an outstanding start to his second season at Montpellier, Giroud caught the eye of Laurent Blanc and looks to get his first French cap this Friday against the US. Giroud’s sheer size has caused problems for opposing defenses ever since his arrival Ligue 1 arrival, and his incredible form may just mean that he gets a chance to continue his dominance against the US.
Though M’Vila is only just a few months over 21, the French national team is no new gig for the defensive midfielder. M’Vila has made 15 French appearances since last year and is already becoming a consistent selection over stars Abou Diaby and Alou Diarra. The fierce matchup between M’Vila and Kyle Beckerman of the US in the middle of the pitch will be very exciting to watch.
Do you even need my advice to watch this guy? Over the last couple of friendlies Shea has proven to be the most consistent player on the pitch for the US and has created more scoring opportunities than any other American. His dominating play for FC Dallas this summer resulted in a winter loan to Arsenal that could make him the first American to ever play for the prestigious club. Did I mention he is only 21? Whether you want to or not, you are going to end up watching a lot of Brek Shea from here on out.
The long awaited arrival of Fabian Johnson is finally here as the German-American looks to make his first appearance in a red, white, and blue uniform on Friday. Johnson will look to contain France’s strong center midfield pairing of M’Vila and Martin and assure the US fans that his introduction was worth the wait.
He is back! US fans got to see what they were missing the last two years when Oguchi Onyewu made his much-anticipated return against Honduars/Ecuador last month. His presence was immediately felt on the defensive end for the US, and even his help in the attack was present off set pieces. Gooch will look to prove that those appearances were not a fluke this Friday against a fierce French side.