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Jurgen Klinsmann plans to experiment with USMNT defense in friendlies

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The U.S. defense is still in flux, but they plan to have it set by the World Cup.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jurgen Klinsmann still doesn't have a set back four after three years on the job. Then again, it's not as if his candidates have made it easy on him.

Players have seen dips in form and injury as much as they have good runs, and toss in players who weren't called up for whatever reason -- Timothy Chandler -- as well as those who have been converted to defense, and you have a mess at the back. That leaves Klinsmann just a few weeks to figure out who his back four will be at the World Cup.

On Monday, he said that he plans on using all three friendlies to sort out the mess at the back, with all of the candidates getting a look, but don't expect that to continue in Brazil. Once the World Cup starts, Klinsmann wants to have his four.

"Hopefully once we're in Brazil and we have that first game, we'll have the back line doing well and being consistent," Klinsmann said. "In those three sendoff games, [we will experiment] because they are very, very tight for those spots and we want to give them exposure and time. So we will definitely make some changes to give them a chance to prove a point."

Klinsmann made a point to emphasize how important it is to have a stable back four and to build an understanding, more so than anywhere else on the pitch. It is to that end that he wants to have his four guys settled by the time they fly to Brazil. Then they will have another week of training, as well as a closed door friendly against Belgium, to build the bond necessary at the back.

As for who those four will be, Tim Howard said that he's sure Klinsmann has an idea who it will be, but that the manager hasn't told the team, nor has training tipped off what Klinsmann is thinking so at this point they have no clue.

If training on Monday was any indication, DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson have the upperhand in the race for the starting spots. That is especially true as long as Omar Gonzalez isn't 100% fit, which he didn't appear to be, but then again, there are still three matches that can change things.