[WORLD CUP 2014 COUNTDOWN] Will Jurgen Klinsmann's tinkering continue? The USA plays its final game of its pre-World Cup series before heading to Brazil when it faces Nigeria Saturday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida (live at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision). Here are three decisions Klinsmann must still make before the USA opens June 16 against Ghana.
Who will start at left back? DaMarcus Beasley started
the Azerbaijan game before giving way to Timmy Chandler after the break, and the Eintracht Frankfurt-bound player played the whole game against Turkey.
Chandler seems to be Klinsmann's No. 1 choice -- it might explain Beasley's sudden reluctance to take to the media ahead of the send-off series -- though Chandler faded badly in the late stages
of the Turkey and was responsible for Turks' consolation goal at the end of the game.
That performance brought back memories of Chandler's lone
competitive match for the USA -- the Hexagonal opener against Honduras in which he had a horrible game. It was hot in San Pedro Sula, just as it was hot in New Jersey and just as it will be hot
Saturday in Jax and at the World Cup, and how Chandler copes with the heat will be one of the many storylines of the USA's maligned back four.
It's still close between Beasley and
Chandler, but a third option -- a long shot -- would be to switch Fabian Johnson back to the left side and play DeAndre
Yedlin on the right. After all, Klinsmann gave the young Sounders defender significant minutes off the bench in both games.
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Who'll start at left mid? Brad Davis. Starter. World Cup. Those are hardly words one
would have strung together three months ago, let alone a year ago, but that's looking more and more likely.
Alejandro Bedoya got the start against
Azerbaijan, but Davis played the second half at Candlestick and started against Turkey. Teenager Julian Green came on late in the game but underwhelmed.
Davis, who started all of five games in the first nine years of his national team career, has started three of five games in 2014, and his contributions in the Azerbaijan and Turkey matches
cannot be overlooked.
Davis fed Aron Johannsson for the second goal against Azerbaijan (video), showing off his patented left foot on corner kicks, and had "second assists" on the goals scored by Johnson (video) and Clint Dempsey (video) against
With Landon Donovan not in the squad, Davis and Graham Zusi are the USA's two main set-piece
takers, making one or both players likely to start at the World Cup.
U.S. Player Ratings:
Mike Woitalla: USA-Turkey
Ridge Mahoney: USA-Azerbaijan
Michael Bradley line up? Much has been made of the use of a diamond midfield against Mexico (with good success), against Azerbaijan (not so much) and for the first part of the Turkey game
(until it became clear the USA would be overrun without help for the player lined up at the base of the diamond).
The problem in the Azerbaijan game was the lack of support for Michael Bradley. Against Turkey, it was Jermaine Jones who was being exposed defensively, requiring that Bradley drop back in
a more conventional 4-4-2 formation.
Even before the Turkey game, Bradley said tactics and formations were getting blown out of proportion.
“My role is in the center
of the field,” he says. “In the center of the midfield, I try to do as much as possible to help the team whether it’s scoring goals, setting up goals, winning tackles, intercepting
balls, you know? I try to have as big an impact on the game as possible."