The United States Men’s National Team takes on Venezuela, in a pre-World Cup Qualifying friendly, on Saturday.
Although Venezuela has several good players, the United States will undoubtedly be favored in this match.
The USMNT has an all-time record of 3-0-1 against Venezuela with the most recent meeting between the two teams, in 2012, ending in a 1-0 U.S. victory. La Vinotinto enters the contest with a 1-3-1 record in its last five games.
Venezuela will be missing several regulars including captain Tomas Rincon, who will be at the Champions League Final with Juventus, and injured Atlanta United star Josef Martinez.
Goalkeepers (2): Alain Baroja (Sud América, Uruguay), José Contreras (Deportivo Táchira)
Defenders (10): Alexander González (Huesca/ESP), Pablo Camacho (Deportivo Táchira), Jefre Vargas (Arouca/POR), José Manuel Velázquez (Arouca/POR), Jhon Chancellor (Delfín/ECU), Yordan Osorio (Tondela/POR), Mikel Villanueva (Málaga/ESP), Rubert Quijada (Caracas F.C.), José Luis Marrufo (Mineros de Guayana), Rolf Feltscher (Real Zaragoza, ESP)
Midfielders (11): Arquímedes Figuera (Universitario/PER), Aristóteles Romero (Mineros de Guayana), Francisco Flores (Mineros de Guayana), Júnior Moreno (Zulia F.C.), Francisco La Mantía (Deportivo La Guaira), Alejandro Guerra (Palmeiras/BRA), Jhon Murillo (Tondela/POR), Rómulo Otero (Atlético Mineiro/BRA), Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake/USA), Jacobo Kouffati (Millonarios/COL), Darwin Machís (Leganés, ESP)
Forwards (4): Salomón Rondón (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Andrés Ponce (Lugano/SUI), Edder Farías (Caracas F.C.), Christian Santos (Deportivo Alavés/ESP)
It’s unclear who coach Rafael Dudamel will start in goal. Alain Baroja has more international experience than Jose Contreras and this may be enough for Baroja to get the start.
The backline will be anchored by centerback José Manuel Velázquez. Velazquez struggled this season, as his Portuguese club Arouca were relegated from the Portuguese first division. Despite Velazquez’s poor form, he remains one of Venezuela’s best defenders and is excellent at breaking up attacks. Velazquez struggles in the air and could have trouble dealing with Jozy Altidore.
Alexander Gonzalez, who plays for Spanish second division side SD Huesca, is expected to get the nod at rightback. Gonzalez is very quick and will frequently join the attack. Gonzalez’s greatest weakness is his vulnerability when defending 1 v. 1.
Left-footed Malaga centerback Mikel Villanueva will likely be Velazquez’s partner in the heart of the defense. Villanueva is very strong and a good tackler, however he struggles with the ball at his feet.
Rubert Quijada has only 3 caps, but he is the best natural leftback on the roster and should feature on the left side of the defense. Quijada is a solid, but unspectacular defender. He can often be a liability as he commits many fouls and is frequently carded.
Francisco Flores will look to connect the Venezuelan defense to the midfield. Flores is a prototypical defensive midfielder. He tackles hard and covers an impressive amount of ground.
Midfielder Jhon Murillo is one of Venezuela’s best young attackers. The 21 year old is capable of playing on either side of the pitch. His best attributes are his blistering pace and dribbling skill. His finishing needs improvement, but he still poses a serious offensive threat.
Veteran attacking midfielder Alejandro Guerra has great vision and passing ability. Guerra will be relied upon to create the majority of scoring chances.
This Venezuelan roster lacks a good right midfielder, so look for attacking midfielder Romulo Otero to feature on the wing. Romulo’s excels at dribbling and taking set pieces. He is Venezuela’s second best midfielder, only behind Guerra.
Target man Edder Farias is very physical and dangerous in the air, but his technical ability is lacking.
Salomon Rondon is the most dangerous player on the roster. The West Brom forward is a clinical finisher and a constant aerial threat. Containing Rondon will be a difficult task for the U.S. defense.
Venezuela should keep the match close, but expect a USMNT victory. The U.S. has never lost to Venezuela and is simply the better team. Both teams will likely use many substitutes in the second half, which should give Venezuela a small chance to pull off an upset.