[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
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
on the right. After all, Klinsmann gave the young Sounders defender significant minutes off the bench in both games. Send-Off Series: Paul Kennedy: Jacksonville is new soccer hotbed Mike Woitalla: Brad Friedel: It's easier to play as the
underdog Paul Kennedy: Jozy Altidore: 'My confidence is
fine' Paul Kennedy: Building
from the base Ridge Mahoney: Brad Davis: 'Never
shut the door on a dream' Mike Woitalla: The USA's new No.
10: Mix Diskerud Mike Woitalla: Johannsson has reason to celebrate 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.
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
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 Where will
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."