With Ireland hosting the USA at the Aviva Stadium tonight, Brian Barry looks at three key players for the Americans heading into the friendly clash.
Fans will be familiar with the Sunderland striker, who was a spectator for the United States’ World Cup odyssey having suffered a hamstring injury against Ghana to end his tournament. This was a big blow to the side, and the fans, or ‘The American Outlaws’ as they are called, will be delighted to see the 25-year-old back in Jurgen Klinsmann’s side.
Following the international retirement of Landon Donovan, Altidore is the future of the USA’s goalscoring department. Despite a lack of game-time for the Black Cats this season, Altidore was the subject of much praise from his German manager following the 2-1 loss to Colombia at Craven Cottage, where the New Jersey native netted in the 10th minute to give USA the lead. He will be the main threat for USA this evening.
The midfielder was instrumental in USA’s run to the last 16 in Brazil, having been drawn in the group of death. He sits in a holding role and makes this team tick. The iconic Real Salt Lake captain is the engine of the side, and fulfills a similar function to James McCarthy for Ireland.
He was not fazed in June by the prospect of facing Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos, so any midfield pairing Martin O’Neill deploys this evening will not overwhelm Beckerman. Despite never plying his trade outside of the MLS, he is a top player, holds onto the ball, and can deliver the pass to unlock a defence.
With Michael Bradley unavailable due to foot surgery, Beckerman is the main man in the centre of the park for the American side, and proved his worth against Colombia. He is the one who can hurt the Boys in Green.
Jones is a natural midfielder, but has been moved to centre-half by Klinsmann in the last two games, possibly in an effort to reform the American defence. When looking at the World Cup, it was only Portugal’s second goal which could definitely not have been prevented.
To put it simply, their defence was shaky. The German-American player is one of the top talents on the US side, having played the majority of his career in the Bundesliga.
He has the ability to change his game, and perhaps Klinsmann envisages that he can adapt to the role in a similar manner to Javier Mascherano. While he has struggled in the last two games, he will be eager to perform if placed in defence in the Aviva Stadium tonight.
Brian Barry, Pundit Arena.
Featured image By Reggie Suplido from USA (The fabulous Aviva Stadium) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons