USMNT

Preview: USMNT v the Netherlands

On Friday afternoon, the US takes on the Netherlands in Amsterdam (2:30 pm: ESPN, UniMás, Univision, Watch ESPN, Univision Deportes En Vivo) in the first of two friendlies against top-class opposition, the second coming next Wednesday versus the world champion Germans. With the Gold Cup upcoming, as Klinsmann says, “It’s a huge opportunity to play nations like these two in order to see a lot of things that you want to see from your players.”

Roster notes

See the full roster here (click that link if only to see Brad Guzan’s amazing photo, where he looks like some sort of X-Man, while Bobby Wood looks like he’s just been arrested). Not shown is Jordan Morris, added to the roster on Wednesday, following his involvement with the U-23s at the Toulon Tournament.

Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore, and Alejandro Bedoya are all starters not currently in camp. Dempsey is awaiting the birth of his fourth child while the others are recovering from injuries. While all four will be missed, it presents an opportunity for others to step up. Says Klinsmann again,

In a certain way, we want to see a couple of guys get thrown in the freezing cold water and see how they can swim and where they stand right now in the ranking of the Men’s National Team. That’s why I want to see Ventura Alvarado or John Brooks play in games like this. Up front, because Jozy Altidore is not here and Clint Dempsey is not here, the youngsters that jump on board now have got a point to prove. For all these guys, games like these are opportunities that don’t happen often in a lifetime, so you better jump on those.

It certainly looks like Aron Johannsson’s ready:

Indeed, several men’s national teamers playing in Europe just finished excellent seasons. From the US Soccer roster announcement:

  • Fabian Johnson helped lift Borussia Mönchengladbach to a third-place finish in the Bundesliga that earned the club a spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage. The German side went 10-0-2 with Johnson in the starting lineup this season.
  • Aron Johannsson recorded four goals in his final three matches as AZ Alkmaar snatched the third spot in the Dutch Eredivisie and a place in the UEFA Europa League.
  • Alfredo Morales played a key role in FC Ingolstadt securing first place in the second division in Germany and subsequent promotion to the Bundesliga.

A lot of attention goes to the big-name players that have returned to MLS in recent times, but it’s important not to forget the US players still competing in Europe and succeeding. That said, this roster is chock full of MLS talent, including Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Juan Agudelo, Kyle Beckerman, and more. With every member of the Netherlands squad having played a full European club season, perhaps the MLS-heavy nature of the US squad will be an advantage—the Dutch players may be fatigued and ready for vacation.

De Oranje

And the US had better hope that the Dutch have their minds elsewhere, because this is an exceedingly formidable team. Lest we forget, the Dutch did not lose a game at last summer’s World Cup, being eliminated on penalty kicks at the semifinal stage, then beating Brazil in the third-place game. They slumped somewhat in the fall, frustrated by their failure to make the World Cup final, but their most recent result was a 2–0 defeat of Spain, a team that has started to rebound after their own disastrous World Cup campaign. While the days of Total Football are long past, the Dutch are resurgent in the last few years.

Louis van Gaal was the coach in Brazil but left after the tournament to coach Manchester United and was replaced by Guus Hiddink. Hiddink is a massively successful coach in his own right, having coached the Dutch before to fourth at World Cup 1998, but he is best known for his accomplishments with smaller, overachieving national teams like South Korea in the 2002 World Cup, Australia in 2006, and Russia in the 2008 European Championships. But with the Dutch, it really always comes down to the players.

Striker Robin van Persie had a down year after reuniting with van Gaal at Manchester United, but Bas Dost had a breakout season at Wolfsburg. Add in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and the Dutch have a fearsome strikeforce. The news does not improve further back, either, with young speedster Memphis Depay in midfield, alongside Wesley Sneijder and Daley Blind, and Gregory van der Wiel and Bruno Martins Indi ahead of Jasper Cilleson in defense.

Prediction

While this Klinsmann team is never out of a game (see: Belgium), it’s hard to claim the US matches up well with the Dutch, especially without players like Altidore and Dempsey (and perhaps Bedoya most of all). The US may be able to get at the Dutch defense, but the Dutch are at home and will likely get at least two of their own, as well. 2–1 to the Netherlands.

2 Comments

  1. i predict a fabinho hat trick.
    .
    .
    wait, wrong article

  2. alicat215 says:

    to get flamed or not flamed……that is the question.

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