USMNT vs Azerbaijan preview and predictions


May 27, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; United States fans hold a cutout of Landon Donovan face, who did not make the 23-man roster, during the second half against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park. The United States defeated Azerbaijan 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the United States Mens National Team will face Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in the first of their 3 send-off games before the World Cup begins.

This will be the first game since Jurgen Klinsmann sent shockwaves around the soccer world by excluding Landon Donovan from the World Cup roster. Klinsmann has opted for a younger roster with players like Julian Green, Mix Diskerud, and John Brooks, which could comeback to haunt him if the US crumbles in Brazil.

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The Azeris are currently ranked 85th in the world, and are managed by Berti Vogts, who is a “special advisor” to the USMNT. Although the Azeris are relatively weak compared to other teams the US has faced, this warmup is a chance for the Yanks to “build confidence and see where guys are,” according to Klinsmann.

This is understandable considering the problems that the US face in the back of their defense.

Fabian Johnson appears to be the US’ new right-back since Brad Evans didn’t make the final cut. Johnson had stated earlier that he had been playing RB in the majority of training sessions. This leaves Geoff Cameron to play center-back paired with Matt Besler, and DaMarcus Beasley on the left side.

Since his knee injury, Omar Gonzalez appears to have fallen out of favor with Klinsmann. He had started WCQ off well, but has experienced shaky play in his past few appearances with the US.

Klinsmann will need a CB that can be dependable in Brazil, and I’m not sure Omar Gonzalez can be the guy.

So, with that being said, let’s get to a few predictions for tonight’s match.

Graham Zusi and Alejandro Bedoya will man the flanks

Without Donovan, one side of the midfield is open for competition. Graham Zusi will play on the right side, and Alejandro Bedoya will man the left. Klinsmann really likes Bedoya, who plays in France, and if Fabian Johnson is playing RB the spot could be Bedoya’s for the taking.

Chris Wondolowski will score… again

Wondo has scored in 2 of the USA’s games already in 2014, and has been on fire since last summer’s Gold Cup. If he gets significant playing time, which he should, tally a goal for him.

Omar Gonzalez will not start tonight

Like I said earlier, Omar Gonzalez has been shaky in his recent performances with the US. Now he is recovering from a knee injury picked up in MLS, these things coupled with Geoff Cameron’s stellar season with Stoke in England (albeit at RB), he may have lost his place in the XI.

Graham Zusi will wear the number 10 shirt

Without Landon Donovan, the number 10 is up for grabs. Clint Dempsey has expressed his dislike of the number, and will be playing in a less creative role. This leaves Graham Zusi to wear the number 10 and step into the place occupied by Landon Donovan.

Prediction: USA 2-0 Azerbaijan

Goals from Jozy Altidore and Wondo get it done for the USMNT tonight.