USA-Canada Preview: Youngsters should get second look

Jurgen Klinsmann says he has two short-term goals for the USA's second and final test of the national team winter camp against Canada on Friday night at StubHub Center (TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, FS1, UniMas): get his veterans ready for the double date against Guatemala in World Cup 2018 qualifying and look at more U-23s for their two-leg series against Colombia with a berth in the Olympics on the line.

“This is the goal," he said in a video interview with U.S. Soccer. "Qualifying for Rio de Janeiro with the younger group, and obviously the senior group has to get the job done with Guatemala, in order to possibly already qualify for the Hexagonal. So looking at all those things at the table, it's going well this whole January camp. It serves its purpose and hopefully they get rewarded at the end of the day.”

Here are three storylines to follow ...

1. Sticking with his veterans down the spine.

During the buildup the 2014 World Cup finals, Klinsmann said his key field players down the spine were Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley. Two years later, Altidore, Jones and Bradley still play key roles, while only Klinsmann knows what the future is for Dempsey, who is not in camp.

In Dempsey's absence, Gyasi Zardes started out as the second forward, next to Altidore against Iceland, but he later moved Lee Nguyen inside. Klinsmann praised Nguyen as one of the winners of the January camp for his ability to combine effectively with others.

2. Kiesewetter making good statement on wing.

If anything, the strength of the squad that has been in camp is in attack. Klinsmann still has to figure how to get playing time for Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter, the U-23 starters up front.

Morris is with eight caps a veteran of the national team scene, while Kiesewetter made his debut against Iceland and added a spark on the right wing. Klinsmann could give the German-bred Kiesewetter a start on Friday night.

"Jerome can play up front or can play wide,” Klinsmann said after Sunday's win. “I think playing wide, he's very talented, because he has terrific speed. A bit like DeAndre Yedlin, his weapon is speed, and then going at people and not being scared about anything. And within five minutes on the field, I think he had three crosses already, and two of them almost led to goals. That's a good statement for a young player like him.”

3. Acosta is in line for a second start.

The USA is thin in the back, where Brad Evans and Michael Orozco, who both started against Iceland, have left, as previously planned, to return to their clubs.

Of the remaining defenders in camp, only Matt Besler has more than two caps. Steve Birnbaum got his second cap -- and scored the winner -- against Iceland off the bench, while Kellyn Acosta earned his first cap, starting at left back.

“We have some issues as an outside back position, on the international level,” Klinsmann said after Sunday's game. “We know Kellyn can play left or right, but also as a 6. He impressed in training, he was very calm, and was very mature for his age. And that was his opportunity then, [and] he was rewarded for these three weeks of really good work.”

Besler, Birnbaum and Acosta -- perhaps on the right side instead of the left -- should start against Canada, while four U-23s Eric Miller, Tim Parker, Matt Polster and Brandon Vincent will be looking for their first caps.

OPPONENT. The USA carries a 16-game undefeated streak against Canada into Friday's match. Like the USA, Canada is preparing for two March World Cup qualifiers (against Mexico). It features 10 MLS players, including the last two Rookies of the Year, Tesho Akindele and Cyle Larin. Akindele is a familiar commodity. He spent last year's January camp with the USA before deciding to play for Canada internationally.

David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls).
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire).
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (Unattached), Perry Kitchen (Unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC).
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart II/GER), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy).

1-Maxime Crepeau (Montreal Impact), 18-Tyson Farago (FC Edmonton), 22- Callum Irving (Univ. of Kentucky).
DEFENDERS (8): 2-Nik Ledgerwood (FC Edmonton), 3-Samuel Adekugbe (Vancouver Whitecaps), 4-Doneil Henry (West Ham United/ENG), 5-Adam Straith (Fredrikstad/NOR), 12-Wandrille Lefevre (Montreal Impact), 15-Steven Vitoria (Benfica/POR), 20-Karl W. Ouimette (New York Red Bulls), 21-Mallan Roberts (FC Edmonton).
MIDFIELDERS (9): 6-Julian de Guzman (Ottawa Fury), 7-Iain Hume (Unattached), 8-Will Johnson (Toronto FC), 10-Kyle Bekker (Montreal Impact), 11-Issey Nakajima-Farran (Terengganu FA/MAS), 13-Jamar Dixon (FF Jaro/FIN), 14-Marco Bustos (Vancouver Whitecaps), 16-Kianz Froese (Vancouver Whitecaps), 17-Marcel De Jong (Sporting KC).
FORWARDS (3): 23-Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas), 19-Caleb Clarke (Unattached), 9-Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC).
3 comments about "USA-Canada Preview: Youngsters should get second look".
  1. cisco martinez, February 5, 2016 at 2:37 p.m.

    I would like to see Birenbuam and Kisewetter start and see how they perform on the defensive side, they both impressed me on the Iceland game, lets see if we see some consistency. I don't know why Klinsmann is keeping Jones in the lineup, he is 34 and unless he signs with a big European team.

  2. R2 Dad replied, February 5, 2016 at 3:04 p.m.

    JJ will help them get through qualifying, as long as JK can help him keep a lid on it. Not sure how many clubs need a 34 YO hothead--looks like the Galaxy already got theirs in NDJ who is ONLY 31.

  3. Wooden Ships replied, February 5, 2016 at 3:47 p.m.

    I agree with your comments. I'm ready to see JA and JJ not start. R2 I still think JK is going to try and qualify with these two and I think that's a bigger risk than he thinks. Get the skill out there now. If we went without this holding midfield commitment would JJ even be a conversation?

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