When the United States takes on Russia on Wednesday in Krasnoodar, they will not do it with their first team, or at least not all of it. With the match being a midweek, single-date friendly, Jurgen Klinsmann has wisely chosen to leave some of his best players home, but that doesn't mean it is a complete set of reserves. There are still several first choice players and they will mix in with some younger players to give the U.S. a chance to compete, while also providing an opportunity to an inexperienced bunch heading into the Hex.
The surprising, inexperienced players on the roster are Mix Diskerud, Josh Gatt and Joe Gyau. Diskerud has been on three clubs in the last year so he was a bit of a wandering man, but he appears to have settled in at Rosenborg and while he still hasn't quite found his best form, he has begun to play with the same flair that put him on the senior team radar two years ago. Gatt continues to play regularly for Molde and brings breakneck pace to the U.S., even if his skill and positioning leaves some to question if he really is national team caliber right now. Gyau is struggling to turn his stardom with the U.S. youth teams into professional success and is probably the most puzzling call-up considering he has not found the field much on loan at St. Pauli since the 2.Bundesliga club changed managers.
Also surprisingly picked to the team are Timothy Chandler and Juan Agudelo, both players who have gotten their looks for the U.S. before, but have not been with the team for a long time. In Chandler's case, it was a matter of turning down call-ups as h kept the option of playing for Germany open, but conveniently, he chose to play against Russia when it cannot cap-tie him. Agudelo was once a budding star, and still in, but his stock slipped after a slow start to the season with the Red Bulls and a trade to Chivas USA, where he joined every one of is teammates in having a bad season.
Exactly how Klinsmann mixes in the older guys like Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Jozy Altidore (he's back, not let's see if he works) and the younger guys will be interesting, as well as what role he sees for the new guys. Against Russia, things are going to be very tough, but it is just a friendly.
Meanwhile, the most important thing might be shoring up the defense. It is almost a first choice defense and after struggling in the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying, they need to get things together. The Hex is right around the corner.