Two January camp friendlies completed. Two dramatic victories after less-than-stellar team performances. The United States and Jozy Altidore finally broke through against Canada in the 89th minute on Friday night to finish their month-long camp with a 2-0 record.
It was a drab match that featured a first half of sloppy play and a second that saw the U.S. dominate possession while Canada sat back and defended for their lives in a meaningless friendly.
There's not much to learn in such a match, but we'll nitpick our way to a few conclusions anyways. Here's what we kinda learned:
The Jordan Morris + Jozy Altidore strike partnership is promising
Okay, so Jozy's finishing was a bit off and Morris' first touch wasn't quite there against Canada, but the duo looked dangerous on several occasions. The first being a combination play between the two that saw Altidore lob a great ball into the path of the youngster, who was unable to keep his chip attempt on goal.
The two began to develop an understanding on the field as the match progressed. They showed glimpses of being a really dynamic partnership and one that could really flourish once some chemistry is formed. The U.S. haven't had a dynamic strike partnership with this sort of potential since Charlie Davies wore the stars and stripes.
Jermaine Jones is a man without a club and a position
Poor JJ. It's been a tough few months for the USMNT veteran. After receiving his MLS suspension he's fallen out with his former club, the New England Revolution, who are offering him a fraction of his 2015 salary. Clubs abroad are being scared off by said suspension. He's out-of-contract and running out of luck on the club front.
Meanwhile on the field for the U.S. he's being phased out in the midfield, forced to play centerback. A position that no matter how much Klinsmann wants him to adopt, just won't come off for him. He struggled to keep the ball in the first half against Canada and got spun around a few times in dangerous spots. It's clear that central defense is not in his future, but is the midfield?
Klinsmann has some tough roster choices come March
All of the regulars will be on the roster for the two upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala in March. But what about the fringe players who showed well in this camp? Lee Nguyen helped his cause immensely, but he's in direct competition with Mix Diskerud, Darlington Nagbe, and Alejandro Bedoya. Someone will inevitably be left at home.
Ethan Finlay played about 65 minutes combined between the two matches, but provided the highlight of the camp with his inch-perfect cross to setup Jozy's winner. Could he sneak his way onto the roster to fill a super-sub role?
What about all of the veterans who were left off this roster? Players like Kyle Beckerman, Chris Wondolowski, Graham Zusi, and even Clint Dempsey? Are all still in the picture? Could this be the end of the road for any of them? A lot of tough decisions will be made in March and they'll likely shape the roster selection for the remainder of this World Cup cycle.