International Preview and Prediction: Switzerland vs USA

Competition: International Friendly – Switzerland vs. USA

Venue: Stadion Letzigrund, Switzerland – Tuesday, March 31 – 12:00 ET (17:00 BST)

Match Odds: Switzerland 1/1 – Draw 23/10 – USA 13/5

Match Preview

The USA complete their international break with a trip to Zurich to play Switzerland in what is another tough test for an experimental US Men’s National Team squad.

Switzerland are currently ranked as the twelfth best national side in the FIFA World Rankings and are higher than both Chile and Denmark – two sides who have already beaten the USMNT in 2015.

Jurgen Klinsmann is without key players Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler and Clint Dempsey to name just a few, so the squad isn’t at full strength. That means this is a perfect opportunity for fringe players to play themselves into Klinsmann’s Gold Cup plans and it will be important to try and put in a better performance than in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Denmark.

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After a poor recent run that has seen the USMNT lose four of their last five, a lot of fans are calling for improved results and a more positive feel going into a tournament that the USA are expected to win this summer.

Klinsmann is clearly experimenting and some might even say he still doesn’t know his best team yet. A result and a good performance with it are much needed on Tuesday afternoon.

Switzerland come into this friendly having won 3-0 against Estonia on Friday night in their European Championship qualifier.

Switzerland are now unbeaten in their last four, and have enough firepower to test a quite fragile USA defence. Players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka will be tough to contain and Nicklas Bendtner’s hat-trick last Wednesday proves there are problems at the back.

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Switzerland currently lie joint-second in Group E of their European Championship qualifying group, behind England and are a well-oiled team that have scored 13 goals in their last four, conceding just twice.

This will be the eighth meeting between the two nations. The USMNT won their only ever game against Switzerland in the most recent meeting in 2007, courtesy of a late Michael Bradley goal.

Team News

Switzerland have no injury concerns going into this one and they’re expected to name an unchanged side from the team that beat Estonia 3-0 on Friday. Johan Djourou and Fabian Schar are expected to continue at centre-back, while Xherdan Shaqiri should continue at the point of a diamond in midfield.

The USA will be without Aron Johannsson after he withdrew with an infection, so College star Jordan Morris has been called up as cover. Jozy Altidore could play upfront on his own or could partner Gyasi Zardes up front if Klinsmann moves Zardes into his more familiar role this time after he started on the right side of midfield against Denmark. Changes from that defeat last week are expected as Klinsmann experiments for the upcoming Gold Cup in July.

Key Points

Switzerland’s last five: L/W/W/D/W

USA’s last five: L/L/L/W/L

Key Stat: USA has lost a lead on four occasions in their last three matches, conceding four of the six goals in the second-half.

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Key Player: Xherdan Shaqiri – The Swiss playmaker will be a huge problem for the USMNT to deal with, and they may have to play an extra man in midfield to try and contain him.

Score Prediction

Switzerland 2-1 USA – Klinsmann’s side will need to put in a better display than they did against Denmark and they are expected to do so. Though this Switzerland side are very strong and are on a good run at the moment. They should edge it but the USA must make sure they can take some positives from the game.

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Taylor Twellman talks up future of U.S. soccer

Ex-international Taylor Twellman was at Craven Cottage to commentate on Friday night’s game as the USMNT suffered an agonising 2-1 defeat at the hands of Colombia thanks to a late winner from Teófilo Gutiérrez.

Despite the result, there were yet more positives to take from the performance of a nation that is growing in the game faster than any other has before.

In his programme notes, Twellman mentioned how Major League Soccer has “grown considerably” and that it would be “foolish to compare the league I played in when I returned in 2002 to what we see today”.

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[Taylor Twellman enjoyed a successful career with New England Revolution before retiring in 2010]

It’s another example of a well respected figure recognising the continuous evolution of soccer in the USA and how the game is only going to continue to push on for better things.

“Off the field, with stadia and fans, everything has evolved. With team expansion the game has grown a lot and that’s just in the years since I retired. For the USMNT to be successful, MLS has to be successful.

“Talking to players like Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and Tim Cahill, they will tell you how much the league has grown. It’s a great statement to see the likes of Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley returning to MLS as they’re in a great stage of their careers and playing on home soil, helping the growth.”

There is such a great feeling around soccer in the USA right now and it’s on a roller coaster journey that is heading in a very successful direction, so hold on to your hats everyone, because it’s not stopping anytime soon.

Will Major League Soccer become one of the strongest leagues in the world?

Who is Rubio Rubin and what does he offer the USMNT?

Friday night marked 18-year-old Rubio Rubin’s full USMNT debut and the young striker didn’t look out of place against the No. 3 ranked side in the world.

Playing against World Cup quarter-finalists Colombia at Craven Cottage, Rubin more than held his own against a strong Colombian defence.

At 5ft 9in he isn’t the biggest of strikers, yet he has a great deal of core strength and an ability to draw fouls that got the USA out of trouble on a few occasions.

He ran the channels very well and was a constant nuisance for the Colombians alongside Jozy Altidore.

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Rubin is a product of the IMG Academy – the academy that has produced international stars such as Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley to name a few. So he certainly has lots of potential.

Having graduated from the IMG Academy, he then joined the Portland Timbers academy to further his development. However, he signed a four-year deal with Dutch club FC Utrecht on his eighteenth birthday in March.

So far this season he has started eight times for Utrecht and supplied four assists. Unfortunately he has yet to open his goal account.

The future looks bright for Rubin and he has a lot to offer the current USMNT squad as well as future ones.

It will be interesting to see how Jurgen Klinsmann manages his current crop of strikers, with Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Aron Johansson, Bobby Wood and Terrence Boyd all pushing hard for starting berths.

One thing is for sure, this USA side will only improve, and Rubio Rubin will hope to be a part of that bright future.

How good can Rubio Rubin become?

Breaking down the USMNT 25-man squad for upcoming friendlies

Jurgen Klinsmann named his 25-man squad for the upcoming USMNT friendlies against Colombia and Republic of Ireland today and there were a mixture of familiar faces as well as new ones in the roster.

The two friendlies may not be competitive games, but Klinsmann will want to end an excellent 2014 on a high and the first game against a no.3 ranked Colombia side on Friday will be a real test that many players will relish playing in.

“We want to finish 2014 on a high note and continue to try to meet the top teams eye to eye,” said Klinsmann.

“In these last two games we want our veterans to really become mentors both on and off the field, and we want to see our youngsters take advantage of the opportunity to make their case and grow from the experience. These performances will set the tone for 2015.”

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (DC United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

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No real surprises here. Tim Howard is taking a year off international duty so Brad Guzan will expect to continue as first-choice. Though the fact that these are friendly games should see rotation between the sticks. Sean Johnson will be delighted with his call-up but he is unlikely to feature. Bill Hamid is certainly looking like the future no.1 ‘keeper and he deserves more and more responsibility from now on.

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

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Mostly usual names in here but some surprise inclusions nonetheless. Firstly, Matt Besler looked extremely tired at the end of Sporting Kansas City’s season and needs a long rest during the offseason. A long trip to Europe is not what he needs.

John Brooks is also a surprise inclusion as he has fallen down the pecking order at Hertha Berlin while Geoff Cameron and Jermaine Jones have been called up in defence to presumably play centre-back but neither are naturals in the position. Jones is a far better midfielder and the experiment at centre-back against Honduras didn’t exactly flourish. Facing a pacey Colombian attack will be a major test.

DeAndre Yedlin is one of three players called up who are still likely to be involved in the MLS Playoffs and so his game time may be limited. And any action he does see could be in midfield once again.

It’s a shame not to see Bolton Wanderer’s Tim Ream called up as he has been in good form this season.

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

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Michael Bradley misses out as he recovers from a foot injury so some new faces are involved. Lee Nguyen has been rewarded for an incredible year though New England’s participation in the playoffs could limit his game time. Alfredo Morales in involved once again but it would have been nice to see a couple of MLS players called up considering the games are non-competitive.

The likes of Luis Gil, Will Trapp and Perry Kitchen could have all been given the nod by Klinsmann but he has overlooked all three on this occasion.

Kyle Beckerman will hope to forget about Real Salt Lake’s humiliating MLS playoff loss to LA Galaxy by ending what has been a great year for him on a high, while Julian Green could impress again.

Graham Zusi has been overlooked but he looked just as tired as teammate Besler and will likely be pleased that he can recover.

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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The major surprises in the roster are in the attack. Clint Dempsey misses out playing at his former ground Craven Cottage as some new faces are set to see some action. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, Miguel Ibarra and Rubio Rubin have all made the squad and will be desperate to impress.

Miguel Ibarra plays in NASL and Bobby Wood is struggling to make any kind of impact for an 1860 Munich side that is near the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga.

While Jordan Morris has yet to leave College and is still a student at Stanford. All three will hope to see some minutes but Rubio Rubin is the most exciting to watch.

The 18-year-old has been called up for the second successive time and will expect to win his first cap this time around. He has four assists in nine games for Utrecht in the Eredivisie and is a versatile attacker with a bright future ahead of him.

Jozy Altidore continues to earn call-ups despite failing to get in the Sunderland team while Aaron Johansson and Terrance Boyd are not deemed fit enough having recently recovered from injuries.

Eddie Johnson has been overlooked once again and his USMNT career looks to be over as long as Klinsmann is in charge.

What do you make of the latest USMNT squad?