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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Preview and Prediction: Republic of Ireland vs USA

USA will complete their 2014 schedule on Tuesday night when they travel to the Aviva Stadium to take on the Republic of Ireland in another international friendly.

They will be looking to bounce straight back from the defeat to Colombia on Friday night and a positive result will be essential, with a strong performance to match high on the agenda.

Ireland will be without their all-time leading goalscorer in Robbie Keane, as he was released on Saturday in order to prepare for his upcoming MLS playoff matches with the LA Galaxy.

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[Ireland and LA Galaxy star Robbie Keane will not feature against USA on Tuesday as he was released from the squad]

Furthermore, Jurgen Klinsmann has released four MLS-based players from duty in order to increase game time for those not involved in the playoffs.

Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones, DeAndre Yedlin and DaMarcus Beasley have all been sent home following the loss to Colombia. Nguyen and Jones need to prepare for New England Revolution’s push for the Eastern Conference title, while Yedlin will be with Supporters’ Shield winners Seattle Sounders as they look ahead to their clashes with the Galaxy.

Klinsmann has not called anyone else up so he will go into the Ireland game with a 21-man squad and several players will be hoping to impress.

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[Jurgen Klinsmann looks on from the dugout at Craven Cottage during the USA vs. Colombia game]

The last time the two sides met was in April 2002, just prior to the FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. The game ended in a 2-1 win for the Republic of Ireland.

As much as this is billed as a friendly, both teams will want a result, as Ireland will be looking to regain a bit of form following their loss to Scotland, and the USA will be hoping to build towards the 2015 Gold Cup – which they are hosting.

This should be a good game, possibly open and end-to-end, but we expect that the USA will come out on top.

They played well against Colombia on Friday, and have enough quality to end 2014 on a high – something Klinsmann will be desperate to do.

Predicted USMNT lineup: Brad Guzan, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Greg Garza, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, Kyle Beckerman, Julian Green, Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood.

Key Player: Kyle Beckerman – Was influential on Friday night and provided cover for the USMNT when they were going forward. Expect him to anchor the US midfield once again.

Key Stat: USMNT forward Rubio Rubin would have been only three months old (18 years ago), the last time the USA beat Republic of Ireland.

Score Prediction: Republic of Ireland 0 – 2 USA

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?

USMNT gather momentum going into the World Cup

USA has now won all three of their warm up games. They were, however, less than impressive in the opening two of their ‘send-off’ series.

But they changed their performance last night as Jurgen Klinsmann ditched the diamond and flooded midfield.

The structure was simply genius as it allowed Alejandro Bedoya and Clint Dempsey freedom on counter attacks.

There are things we need to look out for at the World Cup, assuming that Klinsmann won’t change this current team too much.

1. Zonal Marking – ditch it.

Set pieces are the worst way to concede a goal, as you have plenty of time to set yourself up and zonal marking is the greatest liability.

The system allows players to get complacent because you rely on each other, whereas, in a man-marking system everyone has a job.

We hope he doesn’t use it in Brazil against the likes of Germany who will punish the team from corners otherwise.

2. Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones are a great insurance plan.

When you risk everything on a fast-paced counter attack you have to take precautions defensively.

Jones and Beckerman provide that cover so that the fullbacks, Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley can bomb on.

Klinsmann has found an answer to his midfield issue, and the USMNT have a realistic chance of success at the tournament.

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3. Michael Bradley is ready to shine.

Based on what we have seen in the three warm up games, Michael Bradley will have a great World Cup.

He is one of the first names on the USMNT team sheet and he provides a range of passes that can trouble any defence.

Ghana, Germany and Portugal better have done their homework because Bradley could hurt them.

4. Bedoya or Zusi?

We like Bedoya and he had another good game last night. But we have cause to believe Graham Zusi would be a better choice in terms of structure.

He is more than capable of joining in on the counter attack and he can also pick out a pass to perfection.

But unlike Bedoya, Zusi gives you a bit more defensively and we think he should start instead. It is likely that Bedoya will play though because we cannot see Klinsmann changing his team too much now.

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5. Jozy Altidore can score goals.

It’s an extreme long shot but who’s to say he can’t win the Golden Boot? Although this is extremly unlikely, he did give us cause for optimism with a well-taken brace and lead’s a side with goals in it.

Granted the first goal was a tap-in and had he missed it, he should have retired, but his second cannot be questioned.

The confidence he showed while in possession was great to see and we think the USA have a great platform to attack with him as their outlet alongside Dempsey.

The USMNT will now play Belgium in a behind closed doors match on Thursday but we expect the team will stay much the same regardless of what happens there.

Key takeaways from the USA’s 2-0 win against Azerbaijan

The US national team made hard work of a win on Tuesday night, which saw them snatch a 2-0 win late on against Azerbaijan in the first of their three games in the send-off series before the World Cup.

The USMNT dominated most of the game, enjoying 70% of possession, but they failed to convert on several occasions.

There were a few issues to be addressed and these are our key takeaways from the performance:

1. Can Chris Wondolowski lead the line?

Clint Dempsey pulled out last minute due to a precautionary injury concern with his groin. He has recently stated the minority of the issue, and has claimed that he should be fit to play Turkey on Sunday night.

The concern will still be felt across the nation, as if he were to miss out the fate of the team would lie on Wondolowski and the out-of-sorts Jozy Altidore.

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2. A new era for the No. 10 jersey.

In the absence of Landon Donovan, the unoccupied No. 10 jersey has been filled by Mix Diskerud. The 23 year-old midfielder started on the bench but made an instant impact by coming on and scoring on Tuesday night.

It is still unclear as to how much of an impact Diskerud can make at the World Cup, with Jurgen Klinsmann opting for a diamond formation on Tuesday night, but he proved against Azerbaijan what a valuable asset he is to the squad.

3. Fabian Johnson starting at right-back?

It was thoroughly documented that Fabian Johnson has been training exclusively at right-back and as expected he played there.

We struggle to see how this will fair for the Americans, as playing Johnson on the right leaves the side imbalanced. However, it does allow DaMarcus Beasley to operate at left back, as he was up and down the left flank all night, in a stellar performance from the veteran.

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4. Is Omar Gonzalez fully fit?

Omar Gonzalez came off the bench to replace Geoff Cameron last night, and with question marks over his fitness, should he have played at all?

Klinsmann will be happy to see him get through the second-half, and if he were fully fit, he would surely resume his great partnership with Matt Besler in the heart of the American defence.