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.

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Preview: USA vs. Azerbaijan

The USMNT take on Azerbaijan tonight in the first of their World Cup warm-up friendlies, and we take a look at the things we expect to see.

First of all, reports coming out of the camp are that Fabian Johnson has been almost exclusively training as a right-back. This comes as a surprise that the left-footed Johnson will assumingly be preferred to natural right-sided fullbacks in Deandre Yedlin and Timothy Chandler.

Another surprise is that Jurgen Klinsmann believes that Geoff Cameron’s (another player who can operate at full back) best position is centre-half.

Due to a recent injury to Omar Gonzalez, it’s no surprise that Klinsmann would want to see who could fill in. But Cameron has only played once there for Stoke City this term, and all his other appearances were at right-back.

In a squad that boasts the talents of both Matt Besler and John Anthony Brooks, it seems strange that Geoff Cameron is being thrust into centre back at such a late stage.

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With only 16 days until the world cup, we should assume that Klinsmann knows his team, but trying players out in obscure positions at such a late date, is something the fans will be concerned about.

They should however comfortably beat an Azerbaijan team that is ranked 85th in the world, and should use this game to gel players together.

Expect a comfortable win for the USMNT, whichever team is put out, and with the next warm-up game against Turkey on the 1st June, we can assume that Klinsmann may be saving his ‘best’ team for then.

Prediction: 4-0 – USA to win at least 3 – Expect a very aggressive approach, as well as domination of the possession stats.

One to Watch: Jozy Altidore – Following a poor season with Sunderland, the powerful striker will be looking to get on the score sheet tonight, and prove why he has made the squad.

United States to play Belgium on opening day of World Cup in final preparation game

By Louis East

The USMNT will play Belgium in a behind-closed-doors friendly on the 12 June as both sides look to finalise their preparations for the tournament just days before their opening games.

While the rest of the World will be gearing up to watch Brazil take on Croatia in the opening fixture, the US National team and Belgium will be focusing on a friendly to make any last minute adjustments.

FIFA announced on Friday that the two sides will cap off their World Cup preparations by playing each other in Sao Paulo on the opening day of the World Cup.

Some fans will be concerned by the late friendly, as any injuries suffered will affect the nations tournaments.

Though the Belgian football federation have described the game as more of a training session that a competitive match: “It will be a kind of training session for each side.”

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The United States and Belgium are two footballing nations where the sport is rapidly developing, and the Belgian side have an abundance of talent in their squad.

A ‘golden generation’ of Belgian’s are playing across the major leagues in Europe, with several shining in the Premier League.

Whereas the USA’s national league is growing by the year, with Major League Soccer showcasing a better standard of football every season.

These two met in a friendly last May in a six-goal thriller, with Belgium coming out on top 4-2 on that occasion.

It will be the fourth, and final game for Jurgen Klinsmann to assess his side ahead of their World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16.

They will need to get something out of their opener against the Black Stars as they also face Germany and Portugal in the ‘Group of Death’.

The USMNT play against Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in the United States, before travelling out to Brazil in July.