Wednesday, March 28, 2007

US v Guatemala - Preview & what players need to perform

US MNT vs. Guatemala
Tonight, 9pm ET

The US Men see action again tonight in Frisco 'Just North of Dallas', Texas, as they take on Guatemala. Bob Bradley has already released five players, and with Heath Pearce now out due to a bruised foot bone, his roster is looking a little thin. Actually, there are 18 guys available, so everyone except for goalkeeper Brad Guzan will probably get some playing time.

At least that is the way it should be.

With Guatemala being a little less then a top tier team, Bradley should use this match to explore as many options as he can. Try moving some players around and seeing what pairings work better then others. No place else is this more relevant then in the backline.

With two of the likely Gold Cup starters already sent back to their clubs (Onyewu & Bocanegra), it is time to find their backups. This means Jay DeMerit and Frank Simek should see some good minutes.

The other place to watch is up top. With Ching gone back to Houston, Taylor Twellman & Kenny Cooper have their chance to push for a Gold Cup spot. Twellman has been playing second fiddle to Ching for a while now. If he hopes to grab that first spot ahead of this summer's tournaments, he'll need to show why tonight.

My prediction: US 3-1 Guatemala

So what players need to perform most tonight? I've broken them into three categories.

High Pressure
Taylor Twellman (F) - As stated above, Twellman is in Ching's shadow. If he wants to step out from there, he needs to start doing something tonight.

Kasey Keller (GK) - Just seven months ago, he was the man, but with the team now looking more towards 2010, he needs to prove that he still has it and will continue to have it. Also, with the possibility of not having a club after this season, he needs to show well.

Wade Barrett (D) - Left fullback is a good position to try and capture on this squad, but he will only get a few minutes to make something happen (I'm guessing second half sub).

Eddie Johnson (F) - He is getting better, but the US needs a true striker. If Johnson is afraid to shoot or too quick to get ride of the ball, he will not fit that roll. He needs to show that he is continuing to improve.

Jay DeMerit (D) - With his club team in serious trouble, DeMerit needs to make the most of his debut. Who knows, some good games with the national team might lead him to a bigger club then Watford, but he won't get those minutes if he doesn't prove strong in center back.

Frank Simek (D) - Much like DeMerit, Simek needs to prove that he belongs on this team and do so in his debut. He'll need to use his speed and physical play to stand out.

DaMarcus Beasley (M) - Beasley needs to show that the last 15-minutes on Sunday are more his style then the first hour.

Medium Pressure
Landon Donovan (M/F) - With his hat trick and all around great play on Sunday, he has a bit of a breather till the summer, but there is still that question of consistency.

Kenny Cooper (F) - He's big and talented, but he doesn't throw his weight around much. I put him in medium because I think he's chance of making the summer rosters still has more to do with others performing poorly. That said, if he had a breakout game, the lists could change.

Kyle Beckerman (M) - Busy midfield means little chance for Beckerman as far as this summer goes, still he can move up the ranks of those on the bubble.

Michael Bradley (M) - The game changed on Sunday when Bradley stepped onto the pitch. His ability to make other players better makes him a great weapon. Combine him with Feihaber and oh this could be good.

Benny Feilhaber (M) - Finally he got his moment and he made it happen. As noted above, him and M Bradley really hit it off, however he was looking solid even before Michael came in as a sub. Now he needs to prove that he is not a one game wonder.

Brad Guzan (GK) - With Matt Reis not yet certified as the MLS based national team keeper, Guzan has an opening to work his way into the spot. However, I'm guessing he will not get any time during the game, so hopefully he had a good camp.

Jonathan Spector (D) - Good showing against Ecuador (even if only for 10-minutes) takes some of the pressure off, but the options for the backline are growing, so he shouldn't get that comfortable.

Justin Mapp (M) - His few minutes on Sunday were weak, but he has lots of talent, as anyone who has watch the MLS can tell you. Even with a large number of midfielders available, Mapp is normally ranked somewhat high. Tonight he needs to show that he should be one of the top 8 Americans in the position.

Brian Mullan (M) - Unlike his Dynamo teammate and fellow late roster add Wade Barrett, Mullan isn't playing a position with few other options. Mullan will see little time, but should use those minutes to prove he should be called in for another camp.

Low Pressure
Clint Dempsey (M) - Questions are starting to be asked concerning his play over the last couple matches, but with his mind more on making the first team at Fulham, which should come soon, these matters are easily explained away.

Steve Cherundolo (D) - Has a great clam about him. I'm a little surprised Bradley didn't send him home.

Jimmy Conrad (D) - Hot against Mexico, very mild against Ecuador, still as long as he is healthy, he is on the team.

Now for my guess at a starting lineup:
F: Cooper, Twellman
M: Beasley, Feilhaber, Donovan, Dempsey
D: DeMerit, Conrad, Spector, Simek
GK: Keller

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Blogger Pitch to Pub said...

Apparently Eddie Johnson has signed with Boca Juniors in Argentina. Here is a link in Spanish. You can use Google Translator if you are so inclined...

2:16 PM  

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