Fabio Capello has Russia playing better than Dick Advocaat ever did, and he's only four competitive matches into his term as their manager. They've won all four of their World Cup qualifying matches thus far, including a win over Portugal, and they have yet to concede a goal. Jürgen Klinsmann's United States team is in for a serious test in Krasnodar on Wednesday.
How the United States lines up and what team they put on the pitch is anyone's guess. Clint Dempsey and Steve Cherundolo are being rested, while MLS and Liga MX playoff participants Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo and Jose Torres are unavailable. Some other MLS and Liga MX players that might have been considered for a call-up have been rested after completing long seasons.
Mikkel Diskerud, Timothy Chandler, Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo all earned recalls to the side in the absence of so many players, while young up-and-coming stars Josh Gatt and Joe Gyau will have a chance to make their full national team debuts. Due to the mix of established starters and new faces, Klinsmann's lineup is unlikely to look like one he's fielded before.
Russia are also missing some of their key veteran players, but most of their first choice team is intact. While Capello might experiment with a few players, expect to see Russia line up in a 4-3-3 formation with a group of three very athletic midfielders, likely anchored by captain Igor Denisov. His positioning and tackling is superb, and the United States will play directly into Russia's hands if they're unable to maintain width and end up funneling play in his direction.
Kickoff is at 10 a.m. from Krasnodar, which is much warmer than Moscow and St. Petersburg. It's also a large city that doesn't get national team matches very often, so expect a sellout and a fantastic atmosphere.