USMNT Roster Predictions


Just when we thought there was a break from international friendlies, here comes the United States -Mexico derby! On Thursday, Jurgen Klinsmann and the boys will take on the Mexican National Team in a “friendly” in San Antonio, Texas (830pm EST Fox Sports 1).

Now what makes this particular so interesting is that it falls on a non-FIFA date which means that clubs are not obligated to release their players. So the likelihood of any of the European-based players being released for this match are slim to none.There may be a smattering of players who are not in the first or second teams with their respective clubs like Tottenham’s DeAndre Yedlin and Bayern Munich/Hamburg’s Julian Green. One would hope that those players would stay in Europe and try to impress their club teams.

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What will also be interesting to see is how willing the Liga MX teams are in releasing their players for the USA. Due to the nature of the rivalry and that this match does not fall on a FIFA date, Liga MX teams are under no obligation to release players. Outside of the United States and MLS there is perhaps no league and country that are closer with one another than El Tri and Liga MX. USA-Mexico is one of the most tense rivalries in international football and both sides are always looking for an edge.

Look for Klinsmann to also bring in a few younger players as well. With the U-20 World Cup just a few months away and qualification for the 2016 Olympics set for October, he will likely call in a few players that will play prominent roles for those teams as well.

So with that in mind let’s make some predictions:

Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake,) Bill Hamid (D.C. United,) and William Yarbrough (Leon)

Although Rimando cannot be blamed for all of the USA’s recent troubles, his form has not been the best. Both Hamid and Yarbrough have been excellent with their respective clubs and at some point Klinsmann will be forced to look at other goalkeepers beyond Rimando. He is likely to get the start here due to the magnitude of the match, but this might be his last chance to show that he can still produce at the international level.

Defenders: Ventura Alvarado (Club America,) Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City,) Greg Garza (Tijuana,) Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy,)  Matt Hedges (FC Dallas,) Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids,) Brek Shea (Orlando City SC,) and Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Oaxaca).

Both Gonzalez and Besler will have the chance to show why they should be the starting center-backs for the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup. Both players were obviously integral to the USMNT’s previous World Cup run but seem to have fallen out of favor with Klinsmann. A solid result against Mexico could change that.

While O’Neill and Ocegueda may not be the sexy options they are likely to be playing for the USMNT U-23’s during Olympic qualifying. Klinsmann has placed a high value on that tournament and will likely try to expose those players to as much international football as possible to prepare them. If Klinsmann does not go with Ocegueda, expect Robbie Rogers (Los Angeles Galaxy) to fill his spot.

Midfielders: Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes,) Michael Bradley (Toronto FC,) Mix Diskerud (NYCFC,) Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United,) Perry Kitchen (D.C. United) Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution,) Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake,) and Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

Again, Klinsmann will likely mix in some mainstays of the USMNT roster (Bradley, Diskerud) woth players who are young up and coming players for the U-23 team (Alashe, Gil, and Trapp). Of all the newcomers Trapp is the most likely to see significant minutes. He has had a good start to his 2015 campaign with the Columbus Crew and does not seem to be fazed by playing in big matches.

Kitchen makes this team because the United States are in desperate need for help in the defensive midfield. As a defender he is not afraid to make the tough challenge and has shown with United that he can manage the pace of a match under difficult circumstances. Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) might have been the safe pick for this role but Kitchen has a greater long-term value given their age difference (Beckerman is 32 while Kitchen is 23).

Forward: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution,) Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders,) Jordan Morris (Stanford University,) and Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy)

With Altidore serving his one match suspension for the red card that was issued in the Switzerland match, it opens up a spot for Morris. Since Stanford does not play in the spring and because he is a big part of both the USMNT U-23s he is likely to get the call-up for training purposes.

Agudelo has shaken off the rust and performed admirably for the Revolution early in the season (one goal in five matches). It is still amazing to think that he just 22 years old after all of the stops and starts to his career. If he and Revs teammate Nguyen get into the match late, they may be able to get a late winner.