Job done for the United States Men's National Team against St. Vincent & the Grenadines. After an early scare, the U.S. dominated Vinny Heat like most thought they would. Klinsmann's side enjoyed an astonishing 83% possession in the match and scored six times.
It's great to begin the World Cup qualifying cycle with three points, but now the USMNT must transition from the easiest fixture they'll take part in this round to the most difficult. A trip to the Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago awaits the U.S. in their second match of the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. In the first matchday T&T proved themselves to be the American's main group competition as they defeated Guatemala away from home, 2-1.
An away fixture in CONCACAF is a brutal journey. Usually the U.S. are faced with a raucous environment, inferior playing conditions, and other CONCACAF-y shenanigans. Three points in this fixture are anything but a certainty. Here are a few key items of interest you should be on the lookout for:
A glimpse of the future?
With 25 minutes left in the match against Vinny Heat, Jurgen Klinsmann made a few substitutions and a tactical change. Off came Fabian Johnson and on came Darlington Nagbe and the U.S switched from a 4-4-2 to the 4-3-3. The midfield three consisted of Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, and Nagbe. While it was a cupcake opponent, the changes were noticeable right away. Nagbe and Bradley began playing quick combinations in the midfield at will and the ball was pinging around the U.S. formation at will. It was a beautiful thing to witness.
Could this be the way forward for the USMNT? Nagbe adds another dimension to the side with his tremendous technical qualities and intelligence. Bradley possesses the same qualities and together they could form a very intriguing partnership in the middle of the field. Did Klinsmann notice this? Will he try to expand on the 4-3-3 with Nagbe and Bradley in the middle or will he stay the course with the norm?
Yedlin the enigma
DeAndre Yedlin is an extremely talented soccer player. His five assists for the USMNT this year (second behind only Michael Bradley) proves that. The problem with Yedlin is, he hasn't nailed down a permanent position yet. He came up with the Seattle Sounders as a right back and played there during the World Cup. Then Klinsmann got the idea to push him into the attack.
Playing Yedlin at right back allows Fabian Johnson to push up into his more comfortable midfield role. He's still a naive defender that lacks awareness at times and is prone to a mistake or two a match. However, he's still young and has plenty of time to improve on his defending. If he starts at right back in the Port of Spain it will be a huge test for the 22-year-old. All eyes will be on him and one bad mistake could ruin his chances at locking down that right back spot for the foreseeable future.
It's a real controversy now
Klinsmann can call it a "rotation" all he wants, but what the USMNT have now is truly a goalkeeping controversy. Brad Guzan has been the starter for the last year with only a few mistakes in that time frame. However, he was beaten three times against Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup. He was given the start against Vinny Heat, unarguably the easiest of the U.S.' two-match stretch.
Tim Howard will start against the much, much more difficult opponent in T&T. Pressure will be on him to have a good performance with Guzan sitting right behind him. That's all this "rotation" bring is pressure on both candidates for the job. It could be a good thing in the long run, but it's also a risky thing to play with the confidence of your goalkeepers.
Opposing player to watch
Kenwyne Jones - Striker - Cardiff City
The 31-year-old striker is a known name in the soccer world. He has an impressive 40 career Premier League goals to his name. During his international career he's scored 20 goals for T&T and is their captain. Jones is no stranger to playing against the U.S., but he's never scored against them. However, he'll be a huge threat to bag one on Tuesday night with the American back line looking its usual vulnerable self. It will be a big task for Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron to mark him out of the game and handle his physical presence in the box.
Here's the lineup we'd like to see against Trinidad & Tobago: