Wednesday, January 30, 2013

USMNT Draws with Canada in First Match of 2013

The USMNT played Canada to a scoreless draw last night in its final match before the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying begins next Wednesday. Jurgen Klinsmann fielded a mostly "B" squad made up of MLS players and a smattering of other leagues, with only a handful of them likely to make next week's squad when they play at Honduras on February 6. Here are my hat trick points from last night's match:

1. Gonzalez, Beckerman, and Gatt shine brightest
The best three players on the field last night could all play a role in World Cup qualification for the USMNT. Omar Gonzalez is in the best form of his young career, having just won MVP of the MLS Cup for the Los Angeles Galaxy. He played a solid centerback last night and should be paired with Geoff Cameron in the starting XI next week against Honduras. Kyle Beckerman captained the squad from the defensive midfield position last night and was solid. He could challenge Danny Williams for that spot in the starting lineup in seven days. Josh Gatt showed off his speed and tenacity on the wing last night and would be a good threat off the bench for the top squad.

2. Canada once again frustrated the US by packing it in.
In recent years, Canada has seemed more than willing to play for a draw against the US, using a very conservative strategy. Last night was no different, as the US had significantly more possession, but could not get many shots on goal because the Canucks packed the midfield. You got the feeling watching last night's match that had the Stars and Stripes scored a goal, the floodgates would open on counterattacks since Canada would likely become more aggressive. Unfortunately, the result was just as Canada seemingly wanted.

3. Who else makes the USMNT squad for next week?

Gonzalez, Beckerman, and Gatt should all be safe. Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson will likely make next week's squad as well, as he was a surprise catalyst late last year in qualifying matches. Also in the mix to make the WCQ roster is talented midfielder Graham Zusi. Longshots are Benny Feilhaber (could provide some creativity in the midfield) and Chris Wondolowski (might be able to offer some finishing talent despite his recent struggles when playing for the national team). Expect the final roster for next week's critical match to be released in the next day or two. 

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