1) Will Bob Bradley attempt to play something other than a 4-4-2?
Bob has lived and died by the 4-4-2 since becoming the manager of the team. He once tinkered with a 4-5-1/4-3-3 in a World Cup qualifier down in Costa Rica (a 3-1 loss) in 2009, but after getting behind early and the team just looking awful, he quickly abandoned that plan and really hasn’t strayed from the 4-4-2. I am eager to see if Bob tries anything new or if we will see the standard 4-4-2.
2) Who will step up and be the offensive leader with no Landon Donovan in the lineup?
With Lando trying to win the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the Galaxy (as well as giving him a little bit of a break), he was not called to the team for these friendlies. He has been the offensive “quarterback” for most of the last four years. If the US is doing something creative offensively, it is more than likely that Donovan is involved. It should be interesting to see who steps up and takes the on-the-field leadership when it comes to creating offensively. Will it be Dempsey? Or will someone like Benny Feilhaber or Stuart Holden take charge?
3) How far along is Gooch since his injury?
People are quick to write off Gooch since he returned quicker than normal for someone with that major of a knee injury and looked average in the World Cup. People have forgotten how well he played for the US between 2005-2009. Plus, he is still less than a year away from his surgery and has not been getting playing time at AC Milan. These games will give him a chance to play actual minutes in an actual game and I want to see if he looks better. If the US wants to get that defense back to something of a strength for the team, they are going to need a healthy and confident Gooch.
4) Who is going to play left back?
Heath Pearce will not be able to play in Saturday’s game, but will return (with Brek Shea) for next Tuesday’s game. Carlos Bocanegra is the next logical choice by looking at the roster, but I would like to see Eric Lichaj and Jonathan Spector given a chance. While Spector has played LB for West Ham, he has only featured once at LB for the US under Bob Bradley and that was at the 2007 Gold Cup in one game. This position has been a giant question mark for the US in recent years (long live Jeff Agoos!) and while Bocanegra and Jonathan Bornstein did a serviceable job at the World Cup, the US needs to find someone to take control of the position.
5) How well will Jermaine Jones play within the squad?
One of the best qualities of the US teams in recent years has been the fact that they are close knit family, many of which have grown up playing with each other in the US youth systems. Now enters this 28-year-old midfielder who grew up in Germany most of his life and is brand new to the US program. I am just interested in how he interacts with the players on and off the field.
So those are my questions heading into the games over the next week. What are you interested in seeing or knowing?
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Matt likes soccer. He likes sleeping in. He is also amused easily. That is pretty much it.