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Predicted U.S.-Brazil starters; will Bradley lean on his main men?

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Surely striker Edson Buddle won't be stuck on the bench again tonight against Brazil in the New Meadowlands Stadium.
Surely striker Edson Buddle won't be stuck on the bench again tonight against Brazil in the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Which players should Bob Bradley start in tonight’s Big Apple test against the big banana of world soccer?

It’s not exactly as cut and dried as it may seem. Yes, it would be great to see how some of the young bucks and tier-two U.S. men – Brad Guzan, Omar Gonzales, Sacha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya, Edson Buddle in particular from tonight’s roster – tested against Brazil’s future stars. (Brazil is bringing a young side, one heavier on 2014 prospects than 2010 South Africa holdovers.)

But like so many mid-life Alpha males on the prowl have discovered, going too young can be dangerous.  

As one member of the U.S. Soccer support staff told me, “What good does it do anybody if we put a young team out there and get clobbered?”

And make no mistake, even a young team of Brazilians is capable of popping the top on a big can of “clobber.”

So, I’d expect to see a balanced lineup with 7 or 8 starters tonight coming from the list of Bradley’s top men in South Africa. The balance of starters against Brazil will come from the South African reserves, guys like Benny Feilhaber, Buddle and Herculez Gomez.  (Full disclosure here, this is what you call a WAG – a wild-ass guess. I have no special knowledge in this case.)

I’d expect to see Bradley take advantage of tonight’s liberalized allotment of subs (six per side) to get the younger guys on the field at some point after halftime.

So, we won’t get a full book of knowledge of what Bedoya or Gonzalez can do against good competition, or a full reading on whether Klejstan is returning to 2008 form thanks to his recent move to Belgium. But we’ll know a little more tomorrow than we do today – and that’s something.

Oh, one more thing: I’d really love to see Buddle start. I think he deserves it. Poor guy has been dragged all over the globe with little playing time to show for it. He was on the roster for South Africa but made only the briefest of appearances. Two weeks ago he flew a post-game red-eye out of L.A. into Houston to participate in the MLS All-Star game – but was the only MLS man not to appear in the match.

Now he’s flown all the way across the country to take part in this match. If this night comes and goes without a significant amount of minutes for Buddle (who is, by the way, still leading MLS in scoring), I’m just gonna declare some seriously bad spirits swirling around the man, and then point him to the nearest witch doctor for a good karma cleansing.