After 2013's barrage of qualifiers and this summer's World Cup, I have a confession to make: I'm not really sure I see the point of FIFA having a friendly date on their calendar at this point. Mario Gotze's goal to defeat Argentina feels like it was only a couple of weeks ago, because it was only a couple of weeks ago. What's the benefit here beyond making money? Wait, I just answered my own question.
Regardless of my ambivalent and/or cynical reaction to the timing of this game, the USMNT has at least given today's game some juice by calling in a very young squad full of players that Jurgen Klinsmann has either overlooked in the past or considered too young for the last cycle. Guys like Greg Garza and Alfredo Morales will get a real chance to push themselves into consideration for the 2015 Gold Cup due to the fact that most MLS players have been left with their clubs, while Klinsmann has brought in so much youth that the squad can't go out for delicious Czech beers after the game without leaving some guys back at the hotel.
In other words, consider this match to be entirely about the (likely distant) future.
Kickoff Time: 2:15 PM Eastern
Venue: Generali Arena, Prague (here's the outside; it's the home of Sparta Prague)
TV/Streaming: NBC Sports Network will carry the game in English, while UniMas will have it in Spanish. NBC Sports Live Extra should have a stream for those of us that will be in an office rather than living the high life on a couch/bar stool.
Projected USMNT starting XI: It's no secret to regular readers here that Jurgen Klinsmann's player selection choices are not the choices I would make. As such, this is probably going to be wrong. However, given the players in camp - here's your list - my starting lineup would be a 4132. Starting in the back, Brad Guzan would be in goal behind a back four of Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Tim Ream, and Garza. Further forward, I'd like to see Alfredo Morales underneath a midfield trio of Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, and Julian Green. Up front, I'd like to see Bethesda native Joe Gyau playing off of Jozy Altidore, who will wear the captain's armband.
Match previews: MLSsoccer has a preview of sorts that notes that Guzan and Nick Rimando will split the game evenly in goal, and also features the word "bummer" twice. This USMNT roster is full of less well-known faces, and our homies from Stars and Stripes FC have previewed two. Ryan Rosenblatt has the word on Fulham teenager Emerson Hyndman - grandson of former FC Dallas boss Schellas Hyndman - while Jeremiah Oshan gives us the scoop on Jordan Morris, who is a college soccer player. No, this is not the early 90s.
Prediction: The Czechs have called in a far more experienced squad for this game, which doesn't bode well for an extremely young USMNT roster. However, Klinsmann's era has been marked by American teams going to Europe and punching well above their weight. What does that all add up to? Positive performance in a 2-1 loss. I'm going to predict a goal for Morris - that's "currently playing NCAA soccer Jordan Morris" because why the hell not?
What are you drinking? Most likely water or coffee given that it'll be before 5pm on a weekday. If you scheduled a 'planning meeting" that is also conveniently a late, late lunch that takes place at a pub, let us know what you ordered so we can be jealous.
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