Friday, May 26, 2006

US vs Venezuela

The pre-World Cup run through America arrives in Cleveland tonight as the US men take on Venezuela.

Arena seems set to give the 'B-team' a look, so McBride, Donovan, Keller and Pope will probably sit this one out (or come out at the half) while people like Tim Howard, Ben Olsen and Brian Ching will get their chance to shine.

Venezuela is a more attacking team then Morocco, which should allow the US offense a few more openings while forcing our defense to work hard at shutting them down.

Up top, Ching and Johnson need to use any openings to net get some shots on goal. It appears Arena is going with Wolff as McBride's partner unless either of these two can give him a reason not to. Also, for Johnson, he needs to start producing. If he wants to find his way to Europe, he needs to get some time in Germany and he's not going to get time if he is unimpressive on the pitch (note, this doesn't mean he has to get a goal, but he does have to be a force on the field).

On the other end, Tim Howard should get his first start for the nats since Oct. 12th of last year when he shutout Panama. It will be interesting to see what defensive line Arena goes with, but I'm guessing Chris Albright and Jimmy Conrad will get some good minutes in (who knows, Gregg Berhalter might get some time as well).

In the midfield, there should be a party over in DCenters land as Ben Olsen has a great chance at starting, along with Clint Dempsey. Also, John O'Brien might get another 45-minutes. Let's just hope they are injury free.

Again, the outcome is not very important, but if they do not got some goals, people will, rightfully, start asking some serious questions. This has all the makings of a great match, but I do think it will have long periods of sloppy play. Sloppy can be good but it can also be very frustrating.

I say US will win 3-2 with at least one goal coming off a quick set piece.

US vs Venezuela
7pm ET
Live on ESPN2



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