EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ– Does this week’s spat of international friendlies represent an incredibly awkwardly timed set of fixtures being shoehorned into a tiny window and conflicting with many league schedules while needlessly interrupting the lead up to the Western European club season? Yes. Should we shut up about it and enjoy the matches themselves while eating, drinking, and acting like we know everything about certain players we’ve never even seen play because they were fleeting transfer targets of a club team we like at some point in the past month? Even more so, Yes!
Usually the match previews start with things to watch for in the upcoming game, but we’re going to get this out of the way right now.
Things Not To Watch For:
Jermaine Jones. The German-American/American-German injury machine isn’t even hurt this time, in fact he was initially named to the roster! Exciting right!? Riiight. He’s a bit like that girl in middle school that kept stringing you along for the attention and painstakingly recorded cassette copies of the awesome CD’s on which you spent your hard-earned allowance. You never got to kiss her because she was “saving her first kiss” for the high school dudes you caught her inappropriately allowing to waltz into second base with standup doubles at the mall every weekend. So after getting your hopes up again Jermaine will be staying in Germany with Schalke, hoping to embark on an injury-free season in the hard-hitting Bundesliga. Something tells me we’ve got a better chance of seeing Jermaine Jackson’s jerry curl on the pitch for the Yanks than we do of seeing Jermaine Jones’ cornrows.
Things To Actually Watch For:
I think we’re going to see an all 2010 FIFA World Cup starting eleven out of Bobbo in this one. He’s serious about saluting these guys for putting in a hell of an effort in South Africa, and this very well could be the coach’s last hurrah with the team whether you put any weight into the Bradley to Aston Villa rumors or not. Additionally, we’ve got enough of the team present and accounted for to ensure that no one has to play too far out of position. The whole strike force is there along with half the midfielders and defenders. And of course there’s Timmy and Guzan. I think Tim gets the start with Brad playing the second half, but here’s why that may not happen.
Tim Howard versus Brazil is a matchup to watch, and not just because it pits brilliant skill and attacking play against one of the most well-positioned, athletic, and instinctual keepers in the world. After last year’s Confederations Cup a prideful Timmy will want some revenge against the country that put six goals past him in two games. If he somehow manages to keep a clean sheet through 45 against this young version of Selecao, don’t be surprised if our man gets a crack at keeping the clean sheet. Here’s why that won’t happen.
Goals. Goals, goals. Goals, goals, goals. You see? There are going to be a few goals scored in this one. I apologize for being so cryptic. You’ve got a pretty accomplished group of Yanks (who’ve shown that 90 minutes of solid defense against any opposition is near impossible) on home soil in the New Meadowlands where they just might have to knock a few in to keep up with a relatively young Brazilian squad looking to prove their attacking acumen to their offensively minded new coach who’ll be trying to showcase beautiful football for the bored/offended-by-Dunga contingent back home. All of that coupled with the fact that Brazilian centerbacks tend to mature late in their careers should be a recipe for a goal rush at both ends of the pitch.
So which players am I watching? I’ve got three in mind.
Michael Bradley – For US Soccer to soar to the heights that we all think it can get to MB90 has to build on his great play in the World Cup, and in no small way. He’s got to become the player that he becomes in video games if you play your dynasty long enough. The type of guy capable of make everyone around him better while continuing to tackle hard and play and make dangerous runs. TYAC’s own Raf Crowley wrote a great piece on why our great nation should think about playing a 4-3-3, and it’s got me believing. But for this system (and many others) to flourish, Junior has to become The Man. Here’s hoping for a great performance against a damn good team tonight.
Omar Gonzalez- He’s our 21 year old blue chip defensive prospect. He’s 6’5’’ and he was the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year. What better way for a defender to grab his first cap than with 45 minutes against Brazil. Gooch and Boca are getting old now, and it’s probable that only one of them will make the 2014 World Cup squad. Gonzo will be 25. We can all do the math on this. Let’s just say an important four years for Omar in the U.S. shirt starts tonight.
Neymar – I threw in a Brazilian! What a dick! Yeah I know, but I don’t care, I need to see this kid play. He’s one of the former transfer targets of the club I root for that I could write a book about but have yet to see play live. His home club, Santos, isn’t budging in the face of massive amounts of English porno money being thrown at them by West Ham and even more plentiful wads of Russian mob money being chucked their way by Chelsea. Word is the striker’s got the stuff to eventually wear number ten for Brazil, which is a much bigger deal in soccer than say table tennis. Yes every mercurial goal scorer in the yellow and blue is touted as a possible future number ten just like every young Argentine striker is the next Maradona, but, in the words of Kurt Cobain, just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you.
Prediction: 3 U.S.A. – Brazil 4
Herculez gets at least one. We lose. Shades of the Confederations Cup Final. I hope I’m wrong.
Jon Levy is a co-founder and Senior Writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find him tweeting about things @TYAC_Jon.