World Football Match Guide: USA vs. Costa Rica
With everyone still reeling from transfer deadline news, it's easy to forget that, oh wait, there's still football going on on several other continents.
The U.S. Men's National Team takes on Costa Rica in a friendly in Carson, California tomorrow, their second match under new manager, former German international Jürgen Klinsmann.
Klinsmann joined the Yanks back in July and made his debut coaching in a friendly against Mexico on August 10th, which ended in a 1-1 draw, and took the opportunity to make use of the national team's young talent, giving newcomer Brek Shea and 18-year-old Juan Agudelo opportunities to show their potential.
With new faces, some surprising absences and a Costa Rican side looking to redeem themselves after a pair of international losses, Friday's friendly will be one to watch.
Captain Carlos and his Yanks looked confident with their new coach in their last international match, a draw with longtime rivals Mexico.
But some notable figures are missing this time around: versatile, hardy winger Clint Dempsey, a pivotal figure at the beginning of the USMNT's 2010 World Cup campaign and showing international prowess in early Europa League play, is out with a back injury.
New addition and Hoffenheim midfielder Fabian Johnson, expected to be a significant force in this round of friendlies, is no longer eligible for play as he waits for his clearance from FIFA to switch allegiances.
Regulars Heath Pearce and Zach Loyd are out with hamstring injuries; newcomer Chris Pontius and international vet Jonathan Spector have been brought in as replacements.
With these absences in mind, Klinsmann will likely look to the USMNT's young talent (expect some key substitutions) and take this as an opportunity to give them field experience, as was apparent during the Mexico match.
Agudelo, Shea, and Nuremberg defender Timmy Chandler could all make second-half appearances.
Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton)
Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Timmy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
Maurice Edu (Rangers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca)
Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Predicted Starting XI
Howard; Bocanegra, Goodson, Ream, Spector; Rogers, Kljestan, Torres, Edu; Altidore, Donovan
Lineup: Costa Rica
The Ticos are entering this friendly without their well-scoring captain, Bryan Ruiz, or their coach, Ricardo La Volpe, who parted ways with the club in August before his contract was set to expire following a disappointing showing at the Copa America.
Saprissa star Rónald González is at the helm for the time being, and experienced mainstays like Chivas USA defender Michael Umaña and Real Salt Lake striker Álvaro Saborio will make up for the loss of the captain.
Like their American opponents, Costa Rica are hoping to cash in on the talent of young players, including Saprissa striker Josué Martínez, a fixture at the San José-based club who scored the goal that advanced them to the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage.
Danny Carvajal (A.D. San Carlos), Leonel Moreira (Herediano), Keylor Navas (Levante)
Jhonny Acosta (Alajuelense), Carlos Johnson (Cartaginés), José Mena (Saprissa), Christopher Meneses (Alajuelense), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls), José Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Roy Smith (Orión FC), Michael Umaña (Chivas USA)
Randall Azofeifa (Genclerbirligui), Michael Barrantes (Aalesund), Cristian Bolaños (FC Copenhagen), Allen Guevara (Alajuelense), David Guzmán (Saprissa), Kareem Mclean (Limón FC), Álvaro Sánchez (A.D. San Carlos), Rodney Wallace (Portland Timbers)
Randall Brenes (Cartaginés), Daniel Colíndres (Santos de Guápiles), Josué Martínez (Saprissa), Winston Parks (FK Baki), Álvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake)
Predicted Starting XI
Navas; Umaña, Salvatierra, Acosta, Miller; Barrantes, Sánchez, Azofeifa, Guzmán; Saborio, Martínez
All The Young Dudes
Jürgen Klinsmann has already been using the friendlies as an opportunity to test young and inexperienced players (hence the squad getting the nickname "Klinsmann's Kids" in the press already), most of whom have delivered.
21-year-old FC Dallas star Brek Shea has already impressed on the international circuit, making a skilled assist on Robbie Rogers' equalizing goal.
Klinsmann will likely opt for Shea as a substitute about two-thirds of the way through the match, and if and when he does, the young midfielder will make things happen on the pitch.
Things Look Rosy for Jozy
After fans and the media alike were prepared to write him off as overhyped, striker Jozy Altidore is absolutely blowing up right now. He hit a hot streak with the USMNT over the summer, scoring the winning goals in CONCACAF Gold Cup matches against Guadeloupe and Canada before being sidelined with an injury.
In his first few weeks with Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar, he's scored three goals in four appearances, been instrumental in a Europa League victory for AZ and is quickly becoming a fixture on the Dutch side's offense. If he can keep this hot streak up with the Yanks, expect a great goal. Or two.
The Power of Alajuelense
The Ticos draw much of their strength from last year's Costa Rican league champions, the first club of captain Bryan Ruiz (who just signed with Fulham).
Four members of the squad, three of whom are 22 or younger, are regular fixtures on the side, including U-20 World Cup phenom Allen Guevara.
Alajuelense players can be found in multiple positions and contribute much to the Ticos' defense, but after two consecutive matches ending in bookings for Jhonny Acosta, the veteran defender could create some problems for Costa Rica.
Hey, I Know You
With many USMNT players playing for Costa Rican sides and vice-versa, several league play teammates will be going head-to-head in this match as New York Red Bulls defender Roy Miller going up against his teammates Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream for the Yanks.
Could learning someone's style from the close quarters of training during the season become a point of advantage when they become your opponent?