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Puerto Rico vs. USA, 2016 Friendly: What to watch for

With a roster as convoluted as Puerto Rico's legal standing within the United States, here are some things to look for on Sunday.

United States v Trinidad & Tobago - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Ashley Allen Getty Images

It's a match that will be more interesting for lineup experimentation and political reasons than an actual result, as the USMNT plays Puerto Rico for the first time ever. Yes, Puerto Rico is a United States territory. Yes, Puerto Rico may even become a state in the next ten years or so. But in the here and now, Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff will be looking for wildcards in this seemingly obvious David and Goliath matchup.

Klinsmann's roster for this friendly is made up completely of European and Mexico-based club players (who aren't currently playing in Liguilla). The roster itself is only noted for applying to a "transition camp" and the Puerto Rico friendly, so it will be interesting to see if roster changes will be made after Sunday's game. Only 15 of the players on this roster are on the Copa America preliminary roster, which means 7 players are only out to impress the U.S. coaching staff. With such a broad mix of U.S. stalwarts and new faces, it's really hard to tell just what the U.S. will actually look like.

Recent Form:

Puerto Rico

L (0-2) - Guyana - Caribbean Cup

W (4-0) - Anguilla - Caribbean Cup

L (0-2) - Grenada - WCQ

W (1-0) - Grenada - WCQ

D (1-1) - Bermuda - Friendly

United States

W (4-0) - Guatemala - WCQ

L (0-2) - Guatemala - WCQ

W (1-0) - Canada - Friendly

W (3-2) - Iceland - Friendly

D (0-0) Trinidad & Tobago - WCQ

What to Watch for:

  • New Faces- There are plenty of newbies looking to get their foot in the door of the U.S. set-up, and a game where they'll be playing mostly Puerto Rican professionals and college students is a nice soft game to impress. Tijuana Xolos pair Paul Arriola and Amando Moreno make the jump from the U.S. youth setup to the senior side; neither are included in the preliminary Copa America roster, and thus don't have much to lose here. Another interesting wrinkle is the inclusion of Fafa Picault, the St. Pauli forward who was last involved with the USMNT seven years ago at the U20 level. Picault has recently rounded into form in the 2. Bundesliga, and the Haitian-American dual national will no doubt relish an opportunity to use his speed in Puerto Rico to open up further opportunities for himself with the U.S. Finally, this is Eric Lichaj's first U.S. look in a long, long time. Can "The Rash" make this one stick?
  • Walking Wounded- Plenty of injury niggles here and there will ensure a makeshift lineup on Sunday. Fabian Johnson and Geoff Cameron both have lingering injuries that will cut into their playing time. John Anthony Brooks only just recently came back from injury as well. What I'm trying to tell you is that Michael Orozco will definitely be playing in this game (sorry).
  • Holding the Gap- There are a somewhat incredible 5 defensive and/or holding-type midfielders amongst the 7 midfielders on the roster for this friendly. Emerson Hyndman, Perry Kitchen, Danny Williams, Alfredo Morales, and Caleb Stanko have all been called in, and the message seems pretty clear: auditions for the future of the U.S. midfield are happening right now.
  • Julian Green- Um. He's here. Not sure what to do with him at this point.

Lineup Prediction:

"Prediction" seems like a strong word for such a patchwork roster. Let's call it a "possible" lineup.