Prior to its fifth and sixth games in the Hexagonal stage of World Cup qualifying, Head Coach Bruce Arena leads the United States Men’s National Team in a friendly against Venezuela. The game is set to kickoff just hours before the two countries face each other in the 2017 Under-20 World Cup Quarterfinals.
Although, Venezuela has already been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, this will be a good test for the U.S. La Vinotinto, which is translated to “red wine,” is not up there with the Brazils and Argentinas of the world, but have proven they are a team that needs to be respected after constant impressive results in the COPA America.
The U.S. has not lost since the disastrous Costa Rica game, but then again much has changed since the Jurgen Klinsmann era. With Arena in charge, the team has a new atmosphere around it, and the players are finally believing in themselves and playing well.
The biggest thing to watch for in this game is Clint Dempsey chasing Landon Donovan’s goal record. Dempsey is just one goal away from tying Donovan’s 57 international goals, and this week we may see Dempsey claim the record all for himself.
There is not much debate on the lineup. Geoff Cameron and John Brooks are the best center back pairing the country has seen in a long time, while Arena has stated Howard is starting. Both Jorge Villafaña and DeAndre Yedlin don’t have much competition. Fabian Johnson and Darlington Nagbe could be on alternate sides, but over the past four games the team has been noticeably different without them both in. Bradley is not going anywhere, as Arena trusts him probably more than anyone else right now. As for Christian Pulisic, is an explanation even needed with 18-year-old, Borussia Dortmund play-maker?
The only question comes in who will start up top. There seems to be a nod towards Jozy Altidore starting instead of Bobby Wood, and it makes sense why. Arena trusts Altidore, who is a national team veteran, and is the best American at playing with his back to the goal. However, Wood has the best off-the-ball movement of all Americans and his two goals in five recent international games tops Jozy’s three goals in nine USMNT games, one of which was a penalty kick.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Johnson (Moenchengladbach), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris(Seattle Sounders), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
Goalkeepers: Alain Baroja (Sud América, Uruguay), José Contreras (Deportivo Táchira)
Defenders: Pablo Camacho (Deportivo Táchira), José Luis Marrufo (Mineros de Guayana), Yordan Osorio (Tondela/POR), Rubert Quijada (Caracas F.C.), Jefre Vargas (Arouca/POR), José Manuel Velázquez (Arouca/POR), Mikel Villanueva (Málaga/ESP)
Midfielders: Francisco Flores (Mineros de Guayana), Francisco La Mantía (Deportivo La Guaira), Darwin Machís (CD Leganés/ESP), Júnior Moreno (Zulia F.C.), Jhon Murillo (Tondela/POR), Aristóteles Romero (Mineros de Guayana), Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake/USA)
Forwards: Salomón Rondón (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Andrés Ponce (Lugano/SUI), Edder Farías (Caracas F.C.), Christian Santos (Deportivo Alavés/ESP)
How to Watch:
Match Time: 10 p.m. ET.
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, Utah.
TV: FS1, Univision Networks.
Streaming: FOX Sports Go.
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand. Also, be sure to follow @StarsAndStripesFC.
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