The last time the United States were in Europe for a set of friendlies, things went downhill quickly. After a valiant effort against a world class Colombia side, which saw them concede a late game-winning goal, they were embarrassed by the Republic of Ireland, 4-1. European friendlies have always been a tough ask, especially when the timing of the games result in a mixed bag of roster call-ups. It's impossible to dissect Klinsmann's thought process and determine his roster selection method. We just have to assume that the start of the MLS season caused the omission of several key players.
Weakened roster or not, the USMNT will take on Denmark in the first of two friendlies on Wednesday. This game offers very strong competition from a Danish squad filled with experienced European players. The Danes will be a tough test for Klinsmann's bunch.
Here are some key areas of the game you should keep an eye on:
Christian Eriksen is one of the best playmakers in the Premier League. One of Tottenham's most important players, he has scored many clutch goals this season. He is a deadly set-piece taker and is a great chance creator. Eriksen loves to float around the midfield to collect possession where ever he is able. It will be up to the USMNT holding midfielders and center backs to close the gaps in the midfield and not allow him space to pick out his deadly passes. Expect to see Michael Bradley paying close attention to Eriksen when he drifts towards the middle of the field.
There are eight listed defenders on the USMNT roster. They have a combined 96 caps. Brek Shea, who is a recently converted left back, has 29 of those 96. This is one of the most inexperienced defensive cores the National Team has seen in a long time. With this being an experimental roster, expect to see Ventura Alvarado get his first cap sometime in this game. We're all intrigued to see a new player get his first cap and where Klinsmann truly intends to play them. Alvarado is a versatile defender who can play all across the backline, so Jurgen will have fun tinkering with his position. You can expect John Brooks to play a big part in this game. He has enjoyed a good run of form lately with Hertha Berlin, lifting them out of the relegation zone. With a lot of the regular center back options absent, this is a huge opportunity for him to prove he's deserving of a starting spot.
With Aron Johannsson back from injury and the emergence of Rubio Rubin, the USMNT have several options at striker. Like it or not, Jozy Altidore's name is already on the team sheet. The question is, will Klinsmann decide to partner him with another striker or play a lone striker system? Against Colombia in November, we saw Rubio Rubin make his debut starting alongside Altidore. The pairing did well and looked dangerous on several occasions. Jozy has done well in a lone striker system in the past, but he could form a successful partnership with Johannsson or Rubin if given the chance. Keep an eye on the starting lineup and see which system Jurgen decides on.
Here is a lineup I'd like to see start the game against Denmark: