Tuesday night at Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium, the United States men's national team played to an unsatisfying 1-1 draw vs. New Zealand. With an experimental lineup in terms of both formation and personnel, the Americans struggled to control the run of play. Given the number of quality chances generated by the Kiwis, Klinsmann's squad may have even been fortunate to earn a result. It was a game from which few meaningful conclusions could be made, but here's a few things we learned, nonetheless:
Sacha Kljestan is going to start vs. Mexico on November 11
This would have been a ridiculous statement to make just six weeks ago. Having not made a USMNT appearance in over 2 1/2 years, Sacha Kljestan's international career seemed finished, despite continued excellence at the club level. When he entered as a substitute on September 2 vs. St. Vincent, he made an immediate impact, and has started each of the three U.S. games since.
Kljestan has quickly become the hub of the United States' attack. On Tuesday night vs. New Zealand, this was again the case, with most of the Americans' best chances generated from the creative foot of Kljestan. Even with a full first choice squad available, it's now difficult to imagine Jurgen Klinsmann putting anyone else in the middle of the field in Columbus. Kljestan has rocketed from off-the-radar to incumbent starter seemingly overnight. And that's a good thing.
Julian Green will make the opening roster for the Hex
The other feel-good story of this International break continues to be Julian Green. Perhaps no single player needed a strong camp more than Green. He's met that challenge and then some. Despite a forward pool that is ever-increasing in depth, Green has put himself firmly in place to get the call next month when the games really count.
Much like we saw four days prior in Havana, Julian Green was again the best player on the field for the United States. His brilliant individual effort in the 27th minute provided the only U.S. goal of night, but his movement and pace created problems for the Kiwi defense throughout the game.
Yes, it's only two friendlies after a long time away from the USMNT fold, but it's clear that Julian Green has matured considerably, as has his game. His skill set is a rare one in the current pool, and he's proven too dangerous an offensive weapon to leave home in November.
Adjust that GK depth chart accordingly
It's rare that we get such a thorough and honest look at a USMNT depth chart. After Bill Hamid was added to the roster, replacing Ethan Horvath for the New Zealand game, Klinsmann was asked directly about Hamid's standing. Naming him as "probably around number six or seven," it was thus unsurprising that Hamid was not among the two goalkeepers to get minutes Tuesday night.
William Yarbrough played what could be generously be characterized as an "adventurous" first 45 minutes. The Club Leon starter twice bobbled saves in the early going, offering generous second chances that could have easily ended up in the net with less fortuitous bounces. Late in the half, Yarbrough inexplicably punched a ball back into traffic that appeared readily catchable. It was a nervous half despite not allowing a goal.
The second half gave us another look at San Jose's David Bingham, who lacked the glaring errors, but did allow a goal through his legs at close range. Bingham never looked comfortable (being under attacking pressure can do that), and didn't do a whole lot to elevate his stature.
Based on this game alone, Bill Hamid should move up the depth chart just by standing still. We won't see him next month, but give this guy a game in January.