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

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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?

USA can take positives despite Colombia defeat

Jurgen Klinsmann watched his USA side lose 2-1 late on against a talented Colombian side at Craven Cottage last night, but there were positives to be taken despite the defeat.

The first of the USMNT‘s final two games of 2014 ended with a loss. A late Teofilo Gutierrez header sent a Colombia-filled Craven Cottage into raptures as they finally broke the spirited USA resistance.

Jozy Altidore had given Klinsmann’s side an early lead from the penalty spot after Pablo Armero handled in the box, and they took their 1-0 lead into halftime.

However, the yellow surge of Colombian talent kept driving in the second-half and Carlos Bacca’s goal in the 60th minute turned the game on its head.

Colombia were lifted by the goal and their relentless pressure eventually paid off as Gutierrez guided his header past Brad Guzan in the 87th minute to seal the victory.

Klinsmann will be unhappy with the result, but the performance his players gave will leave him with plenty of positives to take:

Panoramic view of Craven Cottage ahead of kickoff between USA and Colombia on Friday.

Panoramic view of Craven Cottage ahead of kickoff between USA and Colombia on Friday.

1. Jermaine Jones was immense in the centre of defence

Jones was once again started at centre-back despite failing to convince in the previous friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras. But the New England Revolution powerhouse put in a dominant display against the no.3 ranked team in the World and was at the centre of everything the USA did defensively. Klinsmann’s experiment looks to have paid off and Jones could be given more and more time at the back as a result.

2. Jozy Altidore led by example with another goal

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Altidore took the captains armband for the game on Friday night and impressed as he led the line well and got on the scoresheet yet again. His goal came from the penalty spot but take nothing away from his performance as he worked tirelessly up top and proved once again that he should be getting opportunities at club level with Sunderland.

3. Kyle Beckerman bossed the midfield again

Playing against a player of the calibre of James Rodriguez would test even the best holding midfielder in the world, but Beckerman wasn’t phased and looked calm in the middle of the pitch. The Real Salt Lake veteran broke the play up on several occasions and his ability to remain calm at all times helped the team to escape pressure throughout. Another excellent display by the 32-year-old.

4. Rubio Rubin makes good start to life with USMNT

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The 18-year-old forward was handed a starting role against Colombia and didn’t look out of his depth on his international debut. He worked hard and looked more than capable of holding his own against experienced defenders. He had a great chance to make it 2-0 after the break but his header just flew past the right-hand post. His positioning to get the chance was encouraging though and Rubin looks set for a bright future.

5. Lee Nguyen can cut it at the top

Nguyen was brought on late in the second-half for his first USMNT appearance for seven years and he didn’t look out of his depth one bit. The New England Revolution playmaker found space in the final third when he came on and nearly set up a wonder goal with a lovely back-heel flick in a promising move late on. The MLS MVP candidate looks set for an increased number of minutes for Klinsmann’s side in upcoming games.

What did you make of the USA’s performance against Colombia on Friday?

Preview and Prediction: USA vs Colombia

The USMNT face up against Colombia on Friday in their penultimate fixture of what has been a very successful 2014 for US soccer.

Jurgen Klinsmann‘s side will face the World Cup quarter-finalists at Craven Cottage on Friday night before travelling to Dublin to face the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday.

Klinsmann has once again picked a squad with a mixture of experience and youth and he is looking to the older players to help the youngsters settle in.

“They have to help to get these youngsters to another level, it’s really their job and that’s what we ask them,” he said.

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“In a transition phase after a World Cup we need these older players. They have to show the youngsters what it takes to become consistent, not only on the field but off it as well.”

Two 1-1 draws against Ecuador and Honduras last time weren’t bad results but the test of playing the no.3 ranked side in the world will be a step up.

Colombia last played the USA in 2010, in a friendly at PPL Park that ended goalless but we’re expecting plenty of goalmouth action on Friday in what should be an exciting game.

Stars such as James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Jackson Martinez and Adrian Ramos will all be involved for Los Cafeteros and the USA will need to be at their best to get a result.

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It’s a friendly so in theory the result doesn’t matter, but this is a great chance to prove once again how far US soccer has come and Klinsmann will want his side to be competitive throughout.

The game against Ireland should see more of an experimental lineup but Friday’s game should see a strong starting XI take to the field.

Predicted USA starting XI: Guzan, Johnson, Jones, Besler, Beasley, Yedlin, Beckerman, Diskerud, Green, Nguyen, Altidore

Young attackers such as Jordan Morris, Rubio Rubin and Bobby Wood will hope to feature but they may be rested for the Ireland game.

Key Stat: 2,688 – The number of days between Lee Nguyen‘s last appearance for the USMNT – the second most for an outfield player.

Key player: Jermaine Jones – If Jones is deployed at centre-back once again as expected, he will be up against an incredibly talented Colombian forward line. His performance at the back could go a long way to deciding this one.

Prediction: USA 2-2 Colombia – An entertaining affair expected and the USA to impress by picking up a hard-fought draw.

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?