The "second-string" is what comes now, that's what. On only a few days rest, I doubt Klinsmann starts any player that went more than 45 minutes on Wednesday night, which will make for some interesting lineup decisions. Of course, I'm sure nobody will complain about missing some players that directly contributed to one of the most boring halves of American soccer anyone has ever witnessed, but I digress. This game, with a slightly lesser opponent and many of the veterans on very short rest, will be where Klinsmann (should) finally let loose on some of his young(ish) guns.
Bolivia isn't a great side, but they're still a proud nation with a rich soccer tradition that isn't afraid to toe the line with any team. They advanced out of their group in last year's installment of the Copa America (drawing with Mexico and beating Ecuador, as it were) before being stopped in the quarterfinals by Peru. They'll be looking to gain a bit more momentum against the U.S., as things have not gone as rosily in World Cup qualification for them as of late.
W (1-0) - Ecuador - Friendly
W (3-1) - Puerto Rico - Friendly
W (4-0) - Guatemala - WCQ
L (0-2) - Guatemala - WCQ
W (1-0) - Canada - Friendly
L (0-2) - Argentina - WCQ
L (2-3) - Colombia - WCQ
L (1-2) - Paraguay - WCQ
W (4-2) - Venezuela - WCQ
L (0-2) - Ecuador - WCQ
What to Watch For:
Tactical Adjustment - The U.S. has shifted back and forth from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 the past couple games. The 4-4-2 that lost to Guatemala on the road gave way to the 4-3-3 that beat Guatemala at home. The 4-4-2 that beat Puerto Rico in passable fashion gave way to the 4-3-3 that beat Ecuador in initially mediocre, than improving fashion. I truly believe that the U.S. can actually play a workable 4-3-3, and the look enables them to build attacks more than any 4-4-2 they've run in the past year. The only problem is that they need players on the field who can keep possession, because the 4-3-3 is pretty useless as a defend-first formation. If you do use it like that, you end up with 10 players behind the ball, an isolated striker, and an inability to release pressure on your back line. Defensive 4-3-3s are more or less camping in soccer terms. If you commit to playing the 4-3-3 and you want to, you know, score some goals, you have to have players that can hold the ball and move it from defense to attack. Speaking of which...
Nagbe and Pulisic - Start them. Nagbe is the most talented player we've had on the ball in a long, long time, and Pulisic is so incredibly advanced for his age. His skill already translates to this stage, and when his physical development catches up with how quickly he processes the game, he will be a force to be reckoned with. The balance and dynamism that Nagbe and Fabian Johnson bring on the left-hand side allows Pulisic to just go and express himself on the field. If you want to play a 4-3-3, you need to play the people that will keep the ball and get it moving forward. Nagbe and Pulisic proved on Wednesday that they fit that bill.
Strike Force - It's clear that Dempsey still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, but it's also clear (just as it was in the World Cup in 2014) that we can't expect to play a glorified 4-5-1, hoof balls up front for him and expect him to hold off four defenders. He's just not that type of player. Dempsey will most likely be rested in favor of Bobby Wood and/or Chris Wondolowski on Saturday, and if Klinsmann returns to the 4-3-3, whoever mans the point of the attack will need a greater connection with his midfielders. We don't have anyone with a physical hold-up game even close to Jozy Altidore's on this roster, so being able to quickly lay-off passes into the midfield will be vital.
Against my better judgment, it's a 4-3-3, because I can't stop my foolish heart from running wild after that second half on Wednesday.
It's a very "show me what you got" lineup. Nagbe and Pulisic impressed, Klinsmann admitted they impressed, and they still haven't seen a U.S. start. Klinsmann hands them one in a similar formation they saw so much success in. Elsewhere, others are given minutes to prove or disprove their worth, and Klinsmann will most likely draw philosophical conclusions from it all. Perry Kitchen spells Michael Bradley. Bedoya returns to the starting lineup, and Bobby Wood gets the start up top. Chandler and Orozco will not be starting in the Copa America, but will give Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin a break after 90 minute shifts. Besler and Cameron, however, could very well be a starting center back tandem in a week, since no one really knows Klinsmann's center back depth chart. Howard in goal because Guzan played last game and why not give Timmy a game, I guess. Why does Jermaine Jones still play? Because if there's one player I'm sure Klinsmann will always figure out a way to get into the lineup, it's Jermaine Jones. If I'm wrong on this, it'll probably be a 4-4-2 with Wood and Wondolowski up top. Take Kitchen out and put Jones or Bradley at the bottom of a diamond, Nagbe at the top.