[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN]The USA begins its three-game World Cup send-off series with a match against Azerbaijan Tuesday night at San Francisco's Candlestick Park (live on ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas at 10 p.m. ET). Except for Jurgen Klinsmann's "spine" -- the five players he considers the core of the team -- all positions have been up in the air. For a look at what changes might have been made during the Stanford camp on Tuesday.
The only sure things in the U.S. lineup are Tim Howard in goal, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley in midfield and Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore up front.
Who'll start at outside back? German-Americans Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler will likely start though on the opposite sides from the last time they were paired on the outside in the disastrous Hexagonal opener at Honduras in 2013. Johnson says he's been playing at right back in camp -- the position he finished the Bundesliga season at with Hoffenheim. Chandler played five straight games at left back early in Klinsmann's tenure. Chandler's return meant the end of the road for Brad Evans, Michael Parkhurst and Michael Orozco, who all played at right back in qualifying, and may mean DaMarcus Beasley, who started in seven of the 10 Hexagonal matches at left back, has been relegated to the bench.
Who'll start at center back?Matt Besler says he's been working with Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron and John Brooks in training. Besler will likely start, though his partner is anyone's guess. Besler and Gonzalez were the first-choice pairing in the Hexagonal but Gonzalez struggled big-time the last time out against Mexico in April. Besler has played once beside Cameron -- the 2-0 win over Jamaica in October -- but never played with Brooks.
Who'll start at outside midfield?Graham Zusiand Alejandro Bedoya alternated as the starter on the right side through much of qualifying. The USA had some of its best success in qualifying with Johnson on the left side of midfield -- he set up Altidore for winners against Panama and Honduras and created the penalty kick at Costa Rica -- but he's now slotted to start on the backline. None of the other nominal starting left midfielders in the decisive stages of the Hexagonal -- Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez and Landon Donovan -- are still with the team. Look for Zusi and Bedoya to share the duties on the outside with help off the bench from Brad Davis and Julian Green.