It's that glorious time of the year again -- the United States take on their biggest rivals in a gigantically, monumentally, massively, meaningless friendly. Not only is the game unimportant, but it falls on a non-FIFA date, which means both rosters will be severely watered down. With key players missing, both managers will have the opportunity to evaluate fringe players.
Arguably, this game is more important for Mexico, who have two major tournaments to compete in this summer. The Gold Cup in July will be a high priority for Mexico, but will have to field a separate roster for the Copa America in June. This friendly should help them identify players for their "B" team.
Klinsmann only has one senior tournament to worry about this summer. With all of his eggs going into the Gold Cup basket, choosing players for the final few spots on his roster will be crucial. After numerous defensive lapses since the World Cup, having several veteran defenders back at his dispersal should give him an idea of his best defensive alignment. Heading into this friendly there are a few key elements to the game you should be looking out for:
Scraping the bottom of the striker barrel
No Jozy Altidore. No Clint Dempsey. The attacking options are at a bare minimum against Mexico. Juan Agudelo has been brought back into the fold after finally settling his club situation with a move to the New England Revolution. His talent is undeniable. If he gets an opportunity, he could be the third or forth option at striker the USMNT has been searching for. Chris Wondolowski gets another call up. He could become a good mentor, but it's hard to see him making a big impact against above-average competition. Another opportunities presents itself to Zardes, who has played in every game so far this year with mixed results. With Jordan Morris rounding out the striker options, it's hard to see where the goals will come from.
The biggest story line since the World Cup has been the USMNT's weakness for conceding late second half goals. Several excuses have been made regarding this problem:
1) The MLS offseason caused fatigue issues
2) European-based rosters weakened the defensive corps
3) Jurgen is terrible at fitness training and ruined all of our players)
This roster should give us a more than capable defensive setup for sustaining a 90-minute performance.
One of the biggest issues of playing your rival with weakened rosters is that the losing side will always blame their performance on missing key players. There is very little to learn by playing your biggest rival in a noncompetitive aspect. We should all just enjoy the game and not read too much into the result of it.
Here is a lineup I'd like to see against Mexico: