US vs. Argentina Preview

With the cancellation of the US-Egypt friendly, the US lost an opportunity to look at most of its first team players. Therefore, this game will be the first time since October that anything close to a full strength squad is present. There are a couple of absences missing from the group with Steve Cherundolo pulling out due to injury while Stuart Holden suffered a long-term injury that rules him out of the Gold Cup this summer. With the group they have, here is the lineup I would expect.


Howard
Spector–Onyewu–Demerit–Bocanegra
Bradley–Jones–Edu
Donovan–Altidore–Dempsey


This lineup should match-up almost exactly with Argentina who also use a 4-3-3. There have been rumblings that the US will use a 4-2-3-1 with Edu playing in front of Bradley and Jones with Donovan and Dempsey on the wings. The formation would be fine, but Edu as the most advanced midfielder is strange as he is the least technical among the central midfield group and worst suited to the advanced role. Benny Feilhaber or Sacha Kljestan seem better suited for that role than Edu.

The rest of the lineup seems pretty set with the question being at right back. Cherundolo is still the number 1 option there, but for this game it could be Spector out there even though he has been playing at midfield for West Ham. The other options are Timothy Chandler and Eric Lichaj. Lichaj is more of an attacking full back while Chandler is more balanced with a better defensive pedigree. It would be interesting to see Chandler given the start, but Bradley seems to be cautious with youngsters and stick with the more experienced Spector.

As with all friendlies, the question is what can the US learn with the game. Looking at Timothy Chandler is one of the objectives but most of that was probably done in practice leading up to the games. The other question will be how they replace Holden. Does Edu step in? Or does Bradley go more attacking with Feilhaber? The other player to watch is Juan Agudelo who has been superb as a sub in the last two friendlies and may get a chance to prove himself against a higher caliber team in Argentina.

It will also be interesting to see how they deal with Lionel Messi. Under new coach Sergio Batista, Messi has been given a role similar to his at Barcelona. He will be allowed to roam and pull off the forward line which means that the holding midfielders and centerbacks will have to work well together to determine whose job it is to pressure him when he gets on the ball.

It should be a difficult game for most of the attackers as I expect Argentina to hold the majority of possession which will make Altidore and/or Buddle vital as they will have to hold the ball-up to relieve pressure. However, this Argentina side can be beaten at the defensive end. If Dempsey and Donovan can get isolated on the wings they should be able to generate chances. This game should be a tough test, but it provides a great opportunity to evaluate where the US is in terms of preparing for the Gold Cup.

What do you think the US lineup should be? Who are you most excited to see on the US? or Argentina?

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