The United States Men’s National Team heads to Europe to take on a struggling Ireland side for a June 2 friendly in Dublin.
Like the U.S., Ireland failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The Boys in Green made it to a two-legged playoff against Denmark, (the winner of which qualified for Russia) but were humiliated as they lost 5-1 on aggregate. Ireland is 0-3-2 in its last five matches, which includes a 2-0 loss on May 28th against upcoming USMNT opponent France.
While the Irish are not a top side, they should provide much more of a challenge for the U.S. than Bolivia did. Head coach Martin O’Neill left several regulars off the roster, but picked a hard-working team consisting primarily of Premier League and Championship players.
Goalkeepers: Colin Doyle (Bradford City), Conor O’Malley (Peterborough United), Shane Supple (Bohemians)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), John Egan (Brentford), Shane Duffy (Brighton), Kevin Long (Burnley), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Declan Rice (West Ham United), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers), Greg Cunningham (Preston North End)
Midfielders: Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), David Meyler (Hull City), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Shaun Williams (Millwall), James McClean, (West Bromwich Albion), Daryl Horgan (Preston North End)
Forwards: Jonathan Walters (Burnley), Shane Long (Southampton), Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers)
The goalkeepers on the roster are quite poor. Any of the three could get the nod, although Colin Doyle seems the most likely to start.
Captain Seamus Coleman is arguably the best player on the roster and should start at right back. The Everton defender is an excellent tackler and crosser who will to roam forward to get involved in the attack. Coleman’s biggest weaknesses are his struggles in the air and relative lack of pace.
Coach Martin O’Neill has several quality options at centerback. Look for veteran Sunderland man John O’Shea and Brighton defender Shane Duffy to feature in the heart of the defense.
The 37 year old O’Shea is an Ireland legend who excels at man-marking and is rarely caught out of position, but is quite slow.
6’4’’ Shane Duffy is a strong aerial presence both defensively and in the attack. Duffy typically looks to play long out of the back and commits many fouls.
Enda Stevens is one of the few natural left backs on the roster and therefore will likely start. Stevens is a good passer and strong tackler, but is a poor dribbler and occasionally struggles with his positioning.
Harry Arter seems likely to be one of the several starting central midfielders. Arter is an excellent passer who is highly aggressive, but struggles to score.
Hull City’s David Meyler should start in central midfielder. Meyler is a solid two-way midfielder who scored a respectable 5 goals in 25 Championship appearances this past season. Meyler has little dribbling skill and almost instantly looks to pass the ball upon receiving it.
Jeff Hendrick is also likely to feature in central midfield. Hendrick is a solid if unspectacular player with an impressive passing range.
Daryl Horgan has a good chance to start at right midfield and is quite fast. Horgan has an impressive work-rate, but his passing leaves much to be desired.
Expect James McClean to feature at left-midfield. McClean works hard defensively but rarely scores and is frequently yellow carded.
Look for Shane Long to start up top. While he has been poor for Southampton in recent years, Long is this squad’s best attacking option. He has great pace, but his finishing was dismal this past season (2 goals in 30 Premier League appearances).
Although Ireland lacks a true superstar, it has a hard-working squad that should challenge this young U.S. side. The match should be highly competitive and I’m predicting a 2-2 draw.
What do you think of the Ireland squad?