Another day, another friendly. FIFA's near-constant use of the calendar to break up the club soccer world's attempt to play games in the fall is just about done, with today's set of games being the last before 2015. This past Friday, the USMNT got off to a decent start against World Cup darlings Colombia and took a 1-0 lead via Jozy Altidore. However, friendlies aren't the only thing happening too often: Carlos Bacca hauled Los Cafeteros back level after an hour, and Teofilo Gutierrez would score a late game-winner. You know, just like most recent USMNT friendlies.
Jurgen Klinsmann released Lee Nguyen, DeAndre Yedlin, Jermaine Jones, and DaMarcus Beasley from his squad, with the former trio having bigger fish to fry with their upcoming MLS Cup playoff matches. That doesn't mean that the squad is short of quality though, with Alejandro Bedoya becoming one of Klinsi's most important players whether a 4312 or 4231 is chosen as the formation. Altidore is still in the squad as well, and it seems reasonable to expect Klinsmann to give Greg Garza a chance to further cement his grip on the left back position.
For the Irish, Robbie Keane has been released to return to the LA Galaxy...or because he no longer fits the single-forward formation Ireland uses. Keane delicately addressed that latter point recently, which indicates that we might be seeing a fair bit of long ball and direct play in this game.
Key Player - Rubio Rubin (USA)
More of the talk stateside has been on the surprise call-ups for Jordan Morris and Miguel Ibarra, who play in the NCAA and NASL respectively. However, we should probably be focused on Rubin after a strong outing in his international debut against Colombia. Rubin looked fearless while also contributing - legally or not - to the penalty kick that became the USMNT's only goal. With the challenges the US has had creatively under Klinsmann, Rubin's potential to be a new creative attacking option is welcome.
Key question -Can a Klinsmann-coached team actually take the game to anyone?
Despite talking a big game about not just advancing but doing so in style before the World Cup, the USMNT has spent the last six months relying on defending, goalkeeping, and opportunism to get results. Klisnmann says he wants his side to be an attacking force, but actions speak louder than words. Against an Irish team that features a lot of players from the English Championship, it's time to deliver on those promises.
Match date/time: Tuesday, 7:45pm local, 2:45 EST
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
TV: ESPN2 (U.S.), Setanta Sports Ireland (Ireland)