For the first time ever, Jurgen Klinsmann will get the opportunity to show what he is building with the United States national team. He's managed one match since being named the U.S. manager, but that came less than two weeks after taking the job and it was a midweek single date, meaning he didn't have time for a real training camp with the team. Now he's preparing the U.S. for a match against Costa Rica on Friday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA and he's had a week to prepare his troops.
As the U.S. gathered in Carson for the second time under Klinsmann, they were in very much the same place that they were the first time that they gathered under the German. The Americans may have managed a 1-1 draw against Mexico in August, but it wasn't a very telling performance. Mexico was obviously shorthanded, they played with the urgency to be expected in a friendly and even so, it took about an hour for the U.S. to find their footing in the match.
In all, there wasn't a whole lot that we learned for chapter one of the Jurgen Klinsmann era. The two upcoming friendlies will do a lot more to establish what kind of team Klinsmann is building. Besides the training camp preceding the matches, Klinsmann will get the time to put together a game plan. He'll be able to create competition and has had a month to scout players to play the type of style he wants.
One thing that is abundantly clear about Klinsmann is that he will not allow one match to push a player out of the player pool. Edgar Castillo put in one of the worst shifts against Mexico of any player to wear the U.S. shirt in a long time, but he's back with the team. The same is true of Jose Francisco Torres as Klinsmann stays true to his word of tapping into the U.S.'s Latino community, but both will have to improve against Costa Rica if they want to continue to be called in.
There are a few new faces in the team, with Jeff Larentowicz, Teal Bunbury and Chris Pontius. All three were somewhat surprise call ups and if they get a chance will have to prove that Klinsmann was right in giving them a look. Add in Timothy Chandler, who missed the Gold Cup at his club Nuremburg's request and also missed the Mexico match and the U.S. have more than enough players to keep an eye on.
One new face who won't get a look is Fabian Johnson, the one-time German youth international who will not play as FIFA processes his nationality change paperwork. It's a bit of a blow to a team that could use some the quality of a Bundesliga regular. More of a blow is the absence of Clint Dempsey, who is not with the team and leaves a gaping hole in the U.S. attack.
Whoever is on the field for the U.S., they have caught somewhat of a break in that they will not face the best Costa Rica team. Star Bryan Ruiz is not with the team and neither is the criminally underrated Celso Borges. Without those two, the Ticos' attack is severely weakened. Young star Joel Campbell is also missing from the team, as is Christian Bolanos.
With the Ticos short on players, the U.S. should not have an overly difficult time coming away with a win. The defense shouldn't be tested much and they will have enough time on the ball that they will have ample opportunity to create chances. The question is whether or not this Klinsmann-led team can show they are better than the Bob Bradley-led teams that had been struggling in these types of matches. That will be step one for Klinsmann as he continues to try and push the U.S. to new heights and he can take that step on Friday evening..