By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard
Sunday marked the 500 day mark until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The US Men’s National team plays their 1 and only “friendly” Tuesday before they jump into their 10 game World Cup qualifying schedule. They need to finish in the top 3 to earn a spot in next summer’s tournament.
The “friendly” against Canada is really a showcase for the players. 16 players have less than 5 caps (games with the National team) and 8 have never played a match for their team. Many notable players will be missing from the lineup such as Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard. But this game isn’t so much a place for the veterans as it is a chance for Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (whose been taking a chopper to and from practice) to try out some new blood.
In the January camp leading up to the match against Canada, Klinsmann brought in some of the rising stars of MLS like Will Bruin, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Beslar and Graham Zusi. These players will have to become major staples of the team if the US is to make it deep into the 2014 World Cup. Klinsmann himself has said that MLS is ‘getting stronger every year’ and if that’s the case then those players should be making a even bigger impact on the National team.
Keep an eye on the back line tonight. If players like Gonzalez, Besler and even AJ DeLaGarza can show that they are up to the challenge of National team play then the US will be in good shape going into qualifying. If none of those players step up and really take control then the US may have to score 4 goals a game just to make it to Brazil.