By IVES GALARCEP
The U.S. Men’s National Team will play their first of five matches in a three-week span on Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio, and while it is arguably the least meaningful of the five, it should offer Jurgen Klinsmann a chance to see some different options in the starting lineup.
Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson will miss the match due to club commitments, meaning those are two spots up for grabs in the lineup that will face Belgium. The Belgians are bringing a full-strength side so there is a good chance Klinsmann will try to start as many first-team regulars as possible.
The match will also be significant because, if he plays, DaMarcus Beasley will earn his 100th cap. The Puebla midfielder is likely to slot in at left back vs. Belgium, and should face a stiff challenge from Belgium’s speedy wingers.
Another starter who might not be in the starting lineup is Jozy Altidore, who last played on May 11th and may not be fully fit for the match. With Eddie Johnson in mid-season form with Seattle in MLS, and Clint Dempsey having finished his club season just a week ago, Klinsmann could save Altidore for the friendly against Germany, which would offer a good test for Altidore six days before facing Jamaica in World Cup qualifying.
So who could we see in the starting lineup against Belgium? Here is one possible lineup:
PROJECTED USMNT LINEUP vs. BELGIUM
Herculez Gomez———————————Graham Zusi
—————Maurice Edu——-Jermaine Jones————-
DaMarcus Beasley—————————-Geoff Cameron
——————Matt Besler——-Omar Gonzalez———–
Here are some thoughts on the squad:
Tim Howard is Klinsmann’s number one and he should start all five matches in the upcoming run, but Brad Guzan is a good bet to get a half in each of the upcoming friendlies, or at least one of them.
If Jozy Altidore is fit enough, he should start in place of Eddie Johnson, but if he isn’t, he would more likely be a halftime or second-half replacement.
If Clint Dempsey can’t go, Klinsmann could call on young forward Terrence Boyd. Belgium’s defense, led by Vincent Kompany, would be a great test for the young forward.
If Brek Shea is healthy and fully fit, he should see some minutes in this match, but it’s tough to see Klinsmann starting him.
Matt Besler played his first match last weekend after missing three matches due to injury with Sporting KC. If he can’t go, or not completely fit, Clarence Goodson could get the nod. I do think we will see Goodson start in one of the friendlies.
In case you were wondering, here is the list of players actually available to face Belgium:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo)
MIDFIELDERS: Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
What do you think of the lineup? Who would you start vs. Belgium?
Share your thoughts below.