3/24/16 US vs Guat WCQ Fri/Tues, U 23s OlympicQ, Ger/Eng, Ger/Italy, Italy/Spain, Arg/Chile, Braz/Uruguay, Johan Cruyff dies, TV Games of Wk

So big games for the US Men’s National Team this weekend as they can all but Qualify for the next round of World Cup Qualifications vs Guatamala both home and away and perhaps just as importantly the US U-23s face Colombia in a 2 game playoff (Home and Away) to see which one will qualify for this summer’s Olympic Soccer tournament in Brazil.  Listen I won’t pretend to understand the German (read US men’s team coach Juergan Klinsmann) – why he would not send U23’s DeAndre Yedlin currently starting at Sunderland in the EPL and John Brooks starting in Germany along with the U23s in their desperate attempt to qualify for the Olympics – I just don’t understand.  Heck I would go 1 step further and say 17 year old -Christian Pulisic should be playing with them as well – hell he has started for Dortmund one of the top 15 clubs in the world – don’t you want him helping the US go to the Olympics – a tourney you would think he would feature in this summer?  I just don’t understand. Listen I know he might start Brooks and Yedlin at Guatamala – but don’t you think Gonzales and Cameron and maybe Beezler can hold down the fort while those guys help the US team qualify for the Olympics.  Seriously if the US doesn’t qualify this will be the 2nd straight cycle under the GERMAN’s Leadership where the US doesn’t qualify for the Olympics – 8 years would be the most in recent history that the US U23s would not qualify.  For a coach who continues to laud the importance of his younger players playing in the Olympics – he isn’t showing he cares with his actions.  Maybe he’s just looking to fire another scapegoat Coaching understudy after the US U23’s don’t qualify again!!  Either way huge games Friday night 10 pm US @ Guatamala on beIN Sports (soccer bars will have it), then Tuesday at home vs Guatamala again in Columbus, Ohio 7 pm on ESPN2.  Win both and the US will all but advance to the next round with 2 games left.  Even 1-1 is ok, which is again why I don’t understand not sending our best with the U-23s Friday night at Columbia at 5 pm on Fox Sports 1, and again on Tues night in Texas 9:30 pm on ESPN2.  Locally – huge congrats to Carmel Native Cameron Lindley for Captaining the U-20 US Men’s soccer team to a third place finish in the Dallas Cup this past weekend – the US Finished 1-1-1.

It’s an international break so the European and all major leagues (not MLS of course) are shutdown while their best players play in qualifiers (America’s, Asia, Africa) and the European’s play friendlies.  If you have beIN Sports – they are carrying a # of the must win South American games on Tuesday as Argentina, Chile and Columbia are on the edge of not qualifying for the World Cup.  ESPN 2 grabbed the Italy vs Spain game today 3:45 pm, Sat’s Germany vs England match at 3:45 and Tuesday’s 3:30 Germany vs Italy game.  Fox sport 1 has the England vs Netherlands Tues at 4 pm before hosting the big Portland vs Orlando game on Sunday at 8 pm.

We are down to the Final 8 – Quarterfinals in Champions League –  with 2 games each on Apr 5/6 + 12/13 with Barcelona vs Athletico and PSG vs Man City looking like the best match-ups on Fox Sports 1 & 2.  Also at the Quarters is Europa League on 4/7 as Liverpool hosts Dortmund at 3 pm on FS1.   And don’t forget the Indy 11 kick-off the season at Tampa Bay on 4/2 7:30 pm on ESPN 3 before returning home 4/9.  Single Game Copa America 100 Tickets – are available for all 4 games in Chicago in early June.  (See chart below TV games for pricing info)

Finally – a sad note as Dutch superstar Johan Cruyff died Wed at the age of 68.  This legendary player and coach at Ajax, Barcelona and the Dutch national team is considered by most to be one of the top 3 or 4 players of all time and his coaching methods of using small-sided futbol to train the Dutch players is widely used across the world today.

Dutch Star Johan Cruyff Dies at 68 

More Cruyff

Cruyff’s Legendary Moments

Alltime Top 20 Players – Cruyff #3

GAMES of the Week

Thur, Mar 24

3:45 pm ESPN 2           Italy vs Spain 2 of the top teams in world square off in friendly

Fri, Mar 25

5 pm Fox Sport1         US U23 Men @ Columbia Olympic Qualify Playoff  Must Tie or not lose by more than 1 at Columbia

10 pm beIN Sport    Guatemala vs. United States men, WC qualifier  2 US Wins puts us thru to next round

Sat, Mar 26

3:45 pm ESPN 2           Germany vs England  –                     World Champs host England

Tuesday, March 29:

3:30 pm ESPN 2           Germany vs Italy                                

4 pm  fox Sport1         England vs Netherlands

4:30 pm beIN Sport    Columbia vs Ecudor  WCQ           Columbia in MUST Win at Home!

7 pm (ESPN2)       United States men vs. Guatemala, WC qualifier-Columbus, OH Must win at Home

7:30 pm beIN Sport   Argentina vs Bolivia  WCQ      must win at home for Argentina

9:30 pm ESPN2            US U23 Men @ Columbia Olympic Qualify Playoff Texas  US Must win to Go to Olympics

Sat, Apr 2

12:30 pm NBC               Liverpool vs Tottenham

12:30 pm Fox soccer     Dortmund vs Werder Bremen

2:30 pm bein?              EL CLASSICO – Barcelona vs Real Madrid –SPORTS BAR

7:30 pm ESPN3             Indy 11 @ Tampa Bay Rowdies

Sun, Apr 3

8:00 p.m Fox Sports1 Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers

Tues, Apr 5

Champions League Elite 8

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport1 Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport 2 Bayern Munich vs. Benfica

Wed, Apr 6

2:45 p.m FoxSport1   Man City vs PSG

2:45 pm Fox Sport2     Real Madrid vs VFL Wolfsburg

7 pm Fox Sports 1      US Women vs Columbia

Thurs, Apr 7

Europa Cup 3:00 p.m., FS1?   Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund


Litmus Test time for CONCACAF Qualifying

US vs Guatamala Preview Goal.com

US Roster Announced with Dempsey and Bedoya back on Board

US Team snubs and expectations

US Confident Altidore and Johnson will be Fit to Play

Gonzales Back in Form for US after move to Pachuca from LA

US Defender Beezler fears no Forward

Report Links US Forward Bobby Wood with Liverpool or a move up to Bundesliga

US Defender Matt Miazga Wants to Be the Best

US Back DeAndre Yedlin gains Experience starting for Sunderland

Scouting Guatemala

 Tim Howard Exits as good not great keeper from Everton

US U-17 goalie Will Pulisic (Christian’s brother) will join Dormund next Season

PODCAST: USMNT’s Bedoya on Nantes, USMNT, MLS, fatherhood

Grant Wahl SI talks Importance of Qualifiers this Weekend

US Ladies Roster Named for April Friendlies

US Ladies Domination

US looking for Rare WC/Olympic Double

US-U20s Draw Hoffenheim 3-3 in Dallas Cup

US National Team Budgets – Philly.com

US Men — The full senior team roster:

GOALKEEPERS (4): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton FC), William Yarbrough (Club Leon).

DEFENDERS (9): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland).

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes FC), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers FC), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution).

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy).

And the Under-23 roster :

GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Milton Keynes Dons), Ethan Horvath (Molde KJ), Zach Steffen (SC Freiburg).

DEFENDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Miazga (Chelsea FC), Eric Miller (Colorado Rapids), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Desevio Payne (FC Groningen), Shane O’Neill (Cambridge United), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas).

MIDFIELDERS (9): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Luis Gil (Queretaro), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham FC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC).

FORWARDS (3): Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Mario Rodriguez (Borussia Monchengladbach), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC).


Congrats to Indy’s FC Pride U15 Girls + Coach Matt Blackbourne heading to US Nationals in Texas
International Qualifiers and Friendlies 

What to Watch for This Weekend –ESPNFC

International Friendlies Schedule

What to Watch for Friendlies in Europe

Barcelona buddies will go at it for their countries this week

Teammates Suarez & Neymar bet Burger on Qualifier Matchup Friday

Messi Returns for Argentina in must win Qualifier at Chile Friday  

Boliva vs Colombia Preview – Must Wins

Chile vs Argentina Preview

Luis Suarez returns for Uruguay vs Brazil from 636 day ban for Biting

Columbia Changes Up Squad with crucial matches vs Bolivia and Ecudor

Belgium vs Portugal Moved to Portugal

Players Looking to Make a Statement in Friendlies

Could Euros Be Forced Indoors?

Euros Match Schedule

Italy lacks Creativity

Italy vs Spain Preview


Buffon Breaks Serie A Record with 973 minutes without a goal in 4-1 win over Turino

Buffon’s Magical Poem to His Goal

World News SI – Buffon, City Skid – Ben Lyttleton

Spurs Keep Heat on Leicester and Man U wins Darby  

Liverpool blows shot at Top 4 with loss to Southhampton

Leicester City adds Resiliance to its Virtues NY Times

As likely as Elvis Being Alive- Leicester defies odds in EPL Title Lead –Grant Wahl SI  

BIRD: How Ranieri transformed Leicester into a contender

Will Man City Miss Champions League Next Year

ICC – Announces Clubs coming to US this Summer

ICC – Real Madrid vs PSG in Columbus July 27 Tix on Sale Mar 29.


Tim Howard ready for step back to MLS in his Career

Orlando City Signs Brazilian Julio Baptista former Real star Forward

Vote MLS Save of the Week

Power Rankings Week 3

 Indy 11

Coach Not Happy with Early Progress – Bloody Shambles

Indy 11 Loses to Louisville City at Home

 Indy 11 Kids Club – Mon- Mar 28th at Off the Wall Sports in Carmel 4:30 – 6:30 pm   

Tickets Just $11 per Game

Podcast with Cincy United Head Coach – Former USMNT Forward John Harkes

Freddy Adu settles in with Tampa Bay Rowdies

2016 Indy 11 Promo Nights

Spring Season
Saturday, April 9 vs. Ottawa – Bicentennial Celebration
Saturday, April 16 vs. New York Cosmos – Wine & Cheese Night
Saturday, May 7 vs. FC Edmonton – Furballs & Futbol Night

Saturday, May 21 vs. Minnesota United FC – IMS – Military Appreciation Night
Saturday, June 11 vs. Carolina RailHawks – Indy Pride Night


Thur, Mar 24

3:45 pm ESPN 2           Italy vs Spain

Fri, Mar 25

5 pm Fox Sport1         US U23 Men @ Columbia Olympic Qualify Playoff

7 pm beIn Sports        Haiti vs Panama

10 pm beIN Sport    Guatemala vs. United States men, WC qualifier,

Sat, Mar 26

10:30 am beIn Sport                        South Africa vs Cameroon

12 noon ESPN 3           Russia vs Lithuania

3 pm  YES                         NY City FC vs New England

3:45 pm ESPN 2           Germany vs England

5:30 pm  beIn sport  DC United vs Dallas

Sun, Mar 27

3:45 pm beIn Sport   Romania vs Spain

Tuesday, March 29:

2:45 pm ESPN3            Scotland vs Denmark

3:30 pm ESPN 2           Germany vs Italy

4 pm  fox Sport1         England vs Netherlands

4 pm ESPN 3                  France vs Russia

4:30 pm beIN Sport                          Columbia vs Ecudor  WCQ

7 pm (ESPN2)       United States men vs. Guatemala, WC qualifier-Columbus, OH

7:30 pm beIN Sport                          Argentina vs Bolivia  WCQ

9:30 pm ESPN2            US U23 Men @ Columbia Olympic Qualify Playoff Texas

Fri, Apr 1

3:30 p.m. Fox Sports 2 Schalke 04 vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach

Sat, Apr 2

7:45 am NBCSN            Aston Villa vs Chelsea

9:30 am Fox Sport2   Bayern Munich vs Frankfurt

10 am NBCSN                 Bournemouth vs Man City

10 am USA??                  Arsenal vs Watford

12:30 pm                         NBC               Liverpool vs Tottenham

12:30 pm Fox soccer                        Dortmund vs Werder Bremen

2:30 pm bein?              EL CLASSICO – Barcelona vs Real Madrid –SPORTS BAR

7:30 pm ESPN3             Indy 11 @ Tampa Bay Rowdies

Sun, Apr 3

8:30 am NBCSN            Leicester City vs Southhampton

11 am NBCSN                 Man U vs Everton

6 pm ESPN 3                  NY Cosmos vs Ottawa

8:00 p.m Fox Sports1 Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers

Tues, Apr 5

Champions League Elite 8

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport1 Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport 2 Bayern Munich vs. Benfica

Wed, Apr 6

2:45 p.m FoxSport1                          Man City vs PSG

2:45 pm Fox Sport2                          Real Madrid vs VFL Wolfsburg

7 pm Fox Sports 1      US Women vs Columbia

Thurs, Apr 7

3:00 p.m., FS1?            Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund

3:00 p.m., FS2?            Sevilla vs. Athletic Bilbao

3:00 p.m., TV TBD:     Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Braga

3:00 p.m., TV TBD:     Sparta Prague vs. Villarreal

Sat, Apr 9

7:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Arsenal

9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Schalke vs Dortmund

11:30 am                          FS2                Koln vs Bayer Leverkusen

12:30 pm NBC              Man City vs West Brom

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs Ottawa (Home Opener)

Sun, Apr 10

7:30 am NBCSN            Sunderland vs Leciester City

11 am NCBCN                Tottenham vs Man United

11 am Extra                    Liverpool vs Stoke City

2 pm ESPN                      US Women vs Columbia

4:00 p.m ESPN              Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders

7:00 p.m Fox Sports1 New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers

April 12/13. Champions League Quarter-finals:

 Sun, Apr 17

3:30 pm ESPN                Orlando City vs. New England Revolution

7:00 p.m Fox Sports1 FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City,

 MLS TV Schedule ‘

European Championships This Summer on ESPN

Copa America Centario Schedule


Sun -June 5 4 pm Jamaica vs Venezuela, Tues June 7 – 7 pm (USA vs Costa Rica), Friday, June 10 Argentina vs Panama 8:30 pm.

Wed, June 22  Semi Finals – 7 pm – Argentina vs Brazil maybe? 

Soldier Field  Chicago Venue Passes – If interested in planning a trip over – reach out to me (shanebestsoccer@gmail.com)

1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605   Seating charts reflect the general layout for the venue at this time these are general prizes based on the full venue packages – I’m sure they will be a little more but this gives you an idea.

Level 1 seats – only things left are  front row $300+

Level 2 seats –   $115/game  upper corners Endzones, Level 2 sidelines –

Level 2 sidelines– $200 each

Level 4 sidelines –  $115/game

Former Tottenham and Fulham attacker can become the all-time leading scorer in World Cup qualification for the USA w/a goal against the minnows on Fri

United States forward Clint Dempsey can make World Cup qualification history for his country when they face Guatemala in Group C on Friday.The 33-year-old attacker – recalled to Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad after missing USA’s first two matches in the fourth round – sits level with Landon Donovan on 13 World Cup qualifying goals.empsey insisted his mentality has never changed since making his debut in 2004 and has the chance to move to outright leader in that team category against Guatemala, although his overall goal tally of 48 remains well short of Donovan’s record mark of 57.”I have enjoyed my time with the national team and every time I have got called up to camp and played in games, I have had the same mentality,” Dempsey told US Soccer.”I have played my best, left everything out on the field and if you get opportunities to play, you continue in the same way.”I don’t think that just because you have a little time off that you would change. For me, I have always treated it the same, wanted to make the most of the games I was a part of and tried to make an impact.”SA and Guatemala are both in the running to finish in the top two group spots, which would seal a place in the final stage of Concacaf qualifying for Russia 2018. USA garnered four points from their first two games and are joint-top of the standings with Trinidad & Tobago, one clear of Guatemala in third as the two nations prepare to meet twice – on March 25 and 29 – with Klinsmann’s men away from home in the first fixture.”You really don’t know what things are going to be like until you are actually there [in Guatemala] and experience it for yourself,” added Dempsey ahead of the two games against a side sitting 65 places below them in the Fifa rankings.”It’s a passionate crowd, wanting their team to do well and sometimes dealing with difficult conditions, dealing with travel, that’s part of qualifying for the World Cup. “That’s why it’s so difficult, but it’s also so rewarding when you are able to qualify for a World Cup. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a difficult game, but that’s part of the experience.”You want to be performing well going into Copa America [in June] because it’s a major tournament as well and it’s an opportunity to do something great on home soil.”USA have won their last three meetings – all at home – against Guatemala, including a 4-0 friendly win last July, but their last away trip was a 1-1 draw in 2012 and their visit prior to that resulted in a narrow 1-0 win in 2008.”Our goal definitely for the two Guatemala fixtures is six points,” said Klinsmann. “We badly want to get the job done before the Copa America Centenario if possible.”We know it’s going to be very difficult, especially the game in Guatemala City. It will be vital how we come out right away from the first second in Guatemala City and hopefully being able to get three points. That would make things a lot easier for the second game.”

Dempsey’s return highlights USMNT roster for World Cup qualifying

Leander Schaerlaeckens,FC Yahoo Sun, Mar 20 10:28 AM PDT

Over the next week and a half, the senior United States men’s national will seek to make firm strides toward an eighth consecutive World Cup appearance in Russia in 2018, while the Under-23 team attempts to qualify for this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.The big team faces Guatemala twice, away on Guatemala City on Friday and then four days later in Columbus, Ohio. Win those two games and the U.S. is practically assured of a spot in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying that will begin in November. The prospects face off with Colombia in Baranquilla and Frisco, Texas, on the same days.On Sunday, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced a 26-man roster for the World Cup qualifiers – his under-23 counterpart Andy Herzog had already done so on Saturday, picking a promising team including nine players who have already made their senior team debuts.The confluence in qualifiers between the two highest age levels made for a unique situation in which Klinsmann and Herzog, who is also Klinsmann’s senior team assistant, had to coordinate carefully to address the needs of both teams. After all, Klinsmann is eager to win all six points available against Guatemala. But in his dual role as U.S. Soccer’s technical director, he’s also conscious of the enormous developmental value of his best prospects competing at the Olympics.As such, senior team striker Jordan Morris will drop down a level. So will some on the fringes of the big team, like defender Matt Miazga, winger Jerome Kiesewetter and midfielder Wil Trapp.But the senior team will see the return of former captain Clint Dempsey, who had not been a part of the last two camps.”Having Clint Dempsey back is very, very important for us,” Klinsmann said in a statement. “He’s a tremendous goal-scorer and when we play teams like Guatemala, you need to figure out ways to score just one or two goals that make the difference. Clint is a guy that can get that done.”Dempsey’s return will be welcomed after his strong season start with the Seattle Sounders. He is tied with the retired Landon Donovan for the most World Cup qualifying goals for a U.S. player with 13. And he has scored five times against Guatemala, also more than any countryman.lejandro Bedoya also made his first camp of the year. The midfielder has been in torrid form for Nantes in France. Defender John Brooks was called in for the first time since September. Edgar Castillo hadn’t been on the national team in two years. But their respective work with Hertha Berlin and Monterrey earned them looks.Striker Jozy Altidore and midfielder Fabian Castillo, however, enter camp with a hamstring and groin injuries, respectively.After a come-from-behind 6-1 win over Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and a 0-0 away tie with Trinidad and Tobago in November, the Americans are tied on points for the lead in Group C of qualifying with T&T – although the Yanks’ goal difference is better. Klinsmann hopes to lock up one of the top two places in these games, allowing this summer’s stateside Copa America Centenario to take center stage.”We badly want to get the job done before the Copa America if possible,” Klinsmann said. “We know it’s going to be very difficult, especially in Guatemala City, but it’s also going to be difficult in Columbus, but there we have a great crowd behind us. It will be vital how we come out right away from the first second in Guatemala City, and hopefully being able to get three points. That would make things a lot easier for the second game.”The Americans will take heart from their 15-4-6 all-time record against Los Chapines, and their ongoing 21-game unbeaten run against them. But then the U.S. has won just one of six World Cup qualifiers on Guatemalan soil and the opponents badly need points after dropping their home game against Trinidad and Tobago, their main rivals in the race to qualify along with the American favorites.Klinsmann called in 26 players for this camp, even though he’ll only be allowed to put 23 on his game-day rosters. While the stakes are considerable, he hopes the camp can double as a tryout of sorts for the prestigious Copa.”This is now the time where you have to show how good you are in terms of you want to make a statement to be in the roster for Copa America,” Klinsmann said. “So this is big. The competition will be intense. … The reason why we brought in a little bit of a bigger roster is because of the fact that it is the last time before we decide on the roster for the Copa America. We want to have the opportunity to see a couple more players.”Before the summer, however, two tricky games await. For the national team and its understudies.

Dempsey’s roles, sizing up the snubs and more thoughts on the U.S. roster

Goal.com 13 hours ago

Guatemala has never been a world beater, but Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t care. As much as U.S. national team fans may want to overlook the Central Americans, and would prefer to see Klinsmann experiment with some new faces in this month’s World Cup qualifiers, Klinsmann isn’t ready to take that chance. More to the point, he isn’t going to waste the opportunity to call in as strong a U.S. team as possible, even if it lacks the sizzle that new names can sometimes provide.Rather than bring in fresh faces, Klinsmann turned to some familiar names we hadn’t heard in a while. Chief among them is Clint Dempsey, who hadn’t been with the team since struggling through the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico in October. As much as Klinsmann chalked up Dempsey’s recent absences from camp to simply wanting to look at some new faces, there was still a lingering sense of dread that the coach might be easing Dempsey out of the national team door the same way he abruptly ended Landon Donovan’s national team career almost two years ago.We have not seen the last of Dempsey in a U.S. uniform though, and his return for the March qualifiers suggests Klinsmann still has plans for him this summer, which has been Dempsey’s hope since the Copa America was finalized.Omar Gonzalez is also back after an extended absence since September, and his excellent run of form for Liga MX side Pachuca made him a difficult player to leave off the squad. Gonzalez will have a fight for a starting role though, with Geoff Cameron looking like a good bet to start on the right side of central defense.The tough thing about the group Klinsmann called in is the uncertainty about two key players. Fabian Johnson suffered a hamstring injury on Saturday, and while he’s on the U.S. camp roster, it doesn’t mean he will be healthy in time to play on Friday in Guatemala. Jozy Altidore made his return from injury on Sunday for Toronto FC, but he is likely facing a battle to regain the necessary fitness to be considered a possible starting option.With those potential key absences in mind, here is a look at the starting lineup we could see take the field in Guatemala on Friday, along with a look at five storylines from the U.S. roster announcement:


If the CONCACAF Cup showed us anything, it’s that an Altidore-Dempsey forward tandem probably doesn’t have much of a future. Sure, the pairing could manage to score a few goals, and beat the likes of Guatemala, but it’s tough to see the duo producing enough dynamism up top to truly trouble tougher teams, like the ones the U.S. will see this summer.So if we consider that, and if Klinsmann is at all looking ahead to this summer, then we need to see Dempsey with a different strike partner, or in a different position. The argument could be moot if Altidore can’t regain his fitness in time to be a starting option. If he can’t, then a Dempsey-Bobby Wood tandem starts to look very attractive. Dempsey’s smart passing and movement, coupled with Wood’s speed and well-timed runs, could cause problems in the Copa America, and would certainly give Guatemala’s defense fits.And if Altidore is fit enough to start? Then an Altidore-Wood strike force makes sense, with Dempsey potentially occupying a role at the top of a diamond 4-4-2, or perhaps a role on the left wing, where he has spent time for the Seattle Sounders.Could Klinsmann leave Dempsey on the bench? It’s tough to see it, but if Klinsmann does plan on phasing him out, then that would certainly be one way to do it. Don’t bet it on it just yet, though.


If you were hoping to see some younger defensive midfield options get a nod in this camp given Jermaine Jones’ suspension, you were sorely disappointed. Kyle Beckerman was called in as expected, but Klinsmann didn’t call in any other defensive midfield types, choosing to pass on Danny Williams despite Williams’ excellent form for Reading FC. Yes, you could argue Mix Diskerud has been known to play a deeper central role under Klinsmann, and he is playing better for New York City FC, but it’s tough for anyone to see Diskerud as a long-term solution in a defensive midfield role.Calling on Beckerman as the lone defensive midfielder also appears to signal the likelihood that Klinsmann plans on riding Jones and Beckerman all the way through Copa America, which seems risky given their age, but understandable if he doesn’t really see any of the younger options (like Will Trapp or Perry Kitchen) being ready for such an important role this summer.Klinsmann might also be taking notice of Michael Bradley’s run in defensive midfield for Toronto FC, and considering a move U.S. fans have spent years clamoring for. Playing Bradley in a deeper role would make room for Dempsey in midfield, and could allow Klinsmann to move a step closer to fielding his strongest possible lineup this summer.


Omar Gonzalez’s absence from the national team wasn’t nearly as eyebrow-raising as Dempsey’s was, mainly because his form last fall wasn’t good and he deserved to be dropped. Gonzalez responded by moving to Liga MX and grabbing a starting role on a strong Pachuca side. Whether Gonzalez needed a change of scenery after seven seasons with the LA Galaxy, or he was simply in a rut last year, there is no denying that he is currently in good form.John Brooks was in much the same boat last year, having failed to impress at last summer’s Gold Cup. He has since retaken a starting role at Hertha Berlin, and been an integral part of their impressive run to third place in the German Bundesliga.Steve Birnbaum’s call-up may have come as a bit of a surprise, but he clearly impressed in the January camp and played himself into a return engagement. Though he isn’t likely to play much, if at all, the young D.C. defender is potentially an option this summer if there are injuries, and if he can keep playing well for D.C. United.


Edgar Castillo’s return had to surprise some, even though Klinsmann has mentioned him in the past as a player who has been on his radar for some time. Just last January, Klinsmann told Goal that Castillo was in the mix for a national team return. His deficiencies as a defender are well known, but he has been playing regularly for Liga MX leaders Monterrey, and he just might be passable enough defensively to due as a starting option against Guatemala.

Michael Orozco is an even bigger head-scratching selection than Castillo. At least Castillo starts for Monterrey. Orozco can’t even make the bench for Tijuana. So why call him in? Orozco is one of the few players Klinsmann feels comfortable with at right back, and he should be able to handle taking on Guatemala if he’s needed, though DeAndre Yedlin really should be the starting right back for the upcoming qualifiers.


There are always players who wind up missing out, but two stand out above the rest this time around. Jorge Villafana remains a no-show despite him playing very well for Santos Laguna this season. Ultimately, it appears Klinsmann preferred Castillo, who he knows well.The other snub that stood out was Williams, who appears to still be paying the price for his terrible showing against Costa Rica in October. He hasn’t been called in since, and after this latest snub, it is starting to look like he won’t be an option for Copa America despite his good club form.

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