USA – Australia Preview

SOCCER 2010 - USA Beat Turkey 2-1


Tomorrow’s match against Australia, the last of three pre-World Cup friendlies, should be the first chance for Bob Bradley to field what he believes to be his best lineup. However, Jozy Altidore sustained an ankle sprain during Thursday’s training session and may need to sit out. The United States has been seeking a striking partner for Altidore and his absence obviously prevents anyone from developing further chemistry with the young forward. If he’s out, look for all the other forwards – Robbie Findley, Herculez Gomez, Edson Buddle, and Clint Dempsey – to receive playing time.

If Bradley elects to use his top-choice players, here’s the probable lineup (assuming Altidore is healthy):

Position Battles:

Striker: Findley provided a spark last week but needs to show he can offer more consistent service. Buddle and Gomez didn’t play against Turkey and both should get decent minutes tomorrow.

Outside midfield: Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are the unquestioned starters, unless Dempsey moves to forward. Benny Feilhaber had a chance to impress last week but lost some luster after a mediocre showing; it’s down to Stuart Holden and DaMarcus Beasley to grab the third-choice position.

Center midfield: Jose Torres has looked sharp in the first two friendlies (particularly against Turkey), but Maurice Edu, Ricardo Clark, and Feilhaber might see action tomorrow. If the physically imposing Edu impresses, he’ll be the starter against England.

Center back: Oguchi Onyewu will certainly see playing time in his continued search for match fitness, and Jay DeMerit may find himself lining up alongside Gooch, giving them an opportunity to become more familiar with each other. Clarence Goodson has an outside chance at earning a starting spot if either DeMerit or Onyewu aren’t completely healthy.

Right back: Jonathan Spector needs an outstanding match to regain his manager’s confidence, but his poor form, and Steve Cherundolo’s two solid outings, may have already determined Bradley’s decision.

Left back: Jonathan Bornstein plays if captain Carlos Bocanegra needs a rest.

Goalkeeper: Bradley will sit Tim Howard only if he isn’t fully-committed to a number two in Brad Guzan or Marcus Hahnemann.

Australia

A few US players will lineup across from familiar faces: goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is Dempsey’s club teammate; midfielder/striker Tim Cahill is Tim Howard’s (and formerly Landon Donovan’s); and Richard Garcia suited up with Jozy Altidore this past season. Cahill and Schwarzer are the class of Australian football and capable of stunning play at their respective ends of the pitch.

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