By Charles Boehm - WASHINGTON, DC (Nov 13, 2012) US Soccer Players -- Jurgen Klinsmann’s effort to test the US National Team with demanding international friendlies continues in faraway Krasnodar on Wednesday, as the Yanks visit Russia for their final match of 2012 (10am ET - ESPN2).
Amid a brief break from the tension of CONCACAF qualifying, Klinsmann has called in a hybrid US roster featuring both regulars and newcomers which should make for interesting viewing against a top-tier European opponent. Veteran faces like Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, and Michael Bradley populate the back line and defensive midfield, ostensibly offering a solid foundation for rising talents to make an impression further up-field.
The team gathered for a day of training in Frankfurt, Germany on Monday before making the nearly-2,000-mile journey to southeast Russia. There they will face a technical, dynamic side which has begun 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign in perfect fashion with four wins from four games and no goals conceded.
Several faces from the Under-23’s will look for a memorable cap with the senior team this week. Josh Gatt and Joseph Gyau are classic wingers whose speed and aggression offer welcome wide options for the US, while Mix Diskerud brings a creative streak to attacking midfield.
The front line also includes two more of their teammates from the Under-23 squad. Terrence Boyd was one of the standouts from that star-crossed experience and offers many of the target-forward tools needed in the 4-5-1 and 4-3-3 formations Klinsmann often utilizes. Meanwhile, Juan Agudelo has a chance to restate his international credentials after a trying club campaign with Chivas USA.
After missing the October qualifiers, both Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan are in strong form for their respective clubs and will feel bullish about making an impact in Krasnodar. It wasn’t long ago that striker Herculez Gomez was the team’s most prominent absentee, but he has become a constant presence for the US and should see time as well.
Inevitably, a prime talking point has been the return of fullback Timmy Chandler to US colors after the German-American’s string of declined call-ups. In an interview with US Soccer, Chandler committed to the United States. Without right back Steve Cherundolo in this squad, Chandler will probably get a full run-out against Russia.
Traditionally seen as an enigma whose achievements rarely match their enormous potential, Russia were a delight to watch during the 2008 European Championships, falling in the semifinals to eventual champions Spain. They started this year’s edition of the event in similarly smashing fashion, but cratered prematurely with a group-stage loss to Greece that prompted change at the top as former England manager Fabio Capello took the reins from Dick Advocaat.
Though his high-priced salary – paid by oligarchs with ownership stakes in domestic pro clubs – prompted skepticism about his motivations, Capello has helped Russia race out to an early lead in a tricky European qualifying group which also includes Portugal, Israel and Northern Ireland.
They are carving out their current success with little to no involvement from their best-known cadre of foreign-based stars, the most recognizable of which are English Premier Leaguers Andrei Arshavin and Pavel Pogrebnyak. Viktor Faizulin and Alexander Kerzhakov headline a large contingent from ambitious club Zenit St. Petersburg which has contributed much over the past year.
Typically fielding a 4-2-3-1 look designed to enable quick counterattacking without sacrificing defensive sturdiness, Russia’s chief threats lie in their technique, movement and incisive passing. Their attack will be a test for the Yanks’ organization and discipline, while the US front five must shake off the effects of a long trip to an exotic locale and produce efficiency and dynamism going forward.
GK: Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEF: Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
MID: Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Joshua Gatt (Molde), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
FOR: Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna)
GK: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Alexander Belenov (Kuban Krasnodar), Vladimir Gabulov (Anzhi Makhachkala)
DEF: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Renat Yanbayev (Zenit St. Petersburg), Andrei Yeshchenko (Lokomotiv Moscow)
MID: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Spartak Moscow), Vladimir Bystrov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Denis Cheryshev (Real Madrid), Igor Denisov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Viktor Faizulin (Zenit St. Petersburg), Denis Glushakov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Maxim Grigoriev (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Magomed Ozdoyev (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Roman Shirokov (Zenit St. Petersburg)
FOR: Artem Dzyuba (Spartak Moscow), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow), Fyodor Smolov (Anzhi Makhachkala)
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