Preview: USMNT host New Zealand in final friendly before the Hex
The U.S. national team host New Zealand in a friendly at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET) in their final game before the next, and final, stage of 2018 World Cup qualifying begins in the CONCACAF region.
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Jurgen Klinsmann’s side face Mexico in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 11 and then Costa Rica away in San Jose on Nov. 15 in their opening two games of the Hexagonal and this final friendly will give the USMNT head coach a good idea who will be in his squad to face the USA’s two CONCACAF foes.
Following the 2-0 win at Cuba last Friday -- goals from Chris Wondolowski and the impressive Julian Green saw the U.S. win on a pretty horrendous pitch in Havana in a historic friendly -- Klinsmann sent home nine players and called up seven others as he casts the net far and wide in dishing out chances to impress.
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Against New Zealand the U.S. will likely give plenty of youngsters a chance to shine with Lynden Gooch, Paul Arriola, Terrence Boyd, Tim Parker and Kellyn Acosta all likely to feature, while regulars Michael Bradley, DeAndre Yedlin and Jozy Altidore.
Usual starters Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood were all sent home for a rest, plus Tim Howard and Brad Guzan were not included in these two friendly squads at all, as Klinsmann will have a chance to run the rule over squad players and see who steps up with the goalkeepers position particularly intriguing after Ethan Horvath’s strong performance in Cuba.
For U.S. players like Sacha Kljestan, Danny Williams, Juan Agudelo and Omar Gonzalez it is not quite last-chance saloon but it’s not far off it. Klinsmann will want to see them step up to lead the youngsters who litter the rest of this experimental squad.
As for New Zealand, the “All Whites” boast Winston Reid in defense and Chris Wood up top but even an under-strength U.S. side is expected to win easily in a stadium where they are unbeaten in their last 14 visits.
It will be intriguing to see which USMNT fringe players take their chance and push themselves towards being named in the squad for the huge World Cup qualifiers next month when the Hex kicks off.
USMNT roster in full
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), William Yarbrough (Club Leon, Mexico)
DEFENDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Mexico), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana, Mexico), Tim Parker(Vancouver Whitecaps FC), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle, England)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana, Mexico), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland, England), Perry Kitchen (Hearts, Scotland), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Danny Williams (Reading, England)
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Terrence Boyd (RB Leipzig, Germany), Julian Green (Bayern Munich, Germany)