By IVES GALARCEP
CLEVELAND- Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t reveal his starting lineup for Wednesday night’s U.S. Men’s National Team friendly vs. Belgium, but the player seated alongside Klinsmann for Tuesday’s press conference revealed at least one of the players he will call on.
Sacha Kljestan will be in the starting lineup alongside Jermaine Jones in central midfield in a match-up that should suit Kljestan well as he faces a Belgium side featuring players he plays with and against as a member of two-time defending Belgian champion Anderlecht.
The match will be Kljestan’s first starter since Klinsmann became national team head coach in 2011, and his first start since the U.S. team’s 1-0 Gold Cup semifinal victory vs. Panama on June 22nd, 2011.
Aside from stating that Kljestan would start alongside Jones, Klinsmann wasn’t revealing much else about his likely lineup, though DaMarcus Beasley does look like a lock to start and earn his 100th USMNT cap.
Of the more revealing aspects of Tuesday’s Klinsmann press conference was Klinsmann’s admission that Steve Cherundolo asked to be left out of the squad in order to have a full off-season to recover and prepare for the next Bundesliga season with Hannover.
“At right back, we always try to make the best out of it,” Klinsmann said. “Stevie is not 100 percent yet. He asked for a bit of a break so he can start properly his next season, a season that leads into the World Cup, so there are compromises we will always have to make but we just have to make the best of it.”
The 34-year-old right back suffered an injury-plagued season and will look to fully recover from his ailments. His absence from the U.S. squad had seemed a bit strange considering he started in the final Hannover match of the season, which came after Klinsmann had announced his roster for the upcoming stretch of matches, but Klinsmann’s explanation helped shed some light on that situation.
Here are some other USMNT tidbits relating to Wednesday’s match:
Klinsmann admitted that while he has a general idea of his preferred back-line, he will use the final two matches to decide on a defense for qualifying.
A day after Geoff Cameron stated that he was brought into the U.S. camp to play centerback, Klinsmann pointed out that he would have preferred Cameron play more centerback than right back at Stoke, and said Cameron did an okay job at right back in March’s qualifiers. It really does sound like we might see Cameron at centerback in the upcoming matches. If that is the case, it will make for some interesting decision-making at right back, where Michael Parkhurst is the only natural right back on the squad. Brad Evans can play right back on Wednesday, while Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley are also options down the road at right back.
Klinsmann mentioned that Brek Shea needs two-to-three weeks to recover from a calf injury he suffered while with Stoke City, a time-table that would essentially rule him out of the national team’s next three matches, including their qualifier vs. Jamaica on June 7th.
The U.S. is holding an open practice on Tuesday evening at 5pm at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The pre-sale for Wednesday night’s match is 22,000.
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