USA-Puerto Rico: Three storylines to follow

The countdown to the Copa Centenario will begin on Sunday when the USA faces Puerto Rico in their first meeting at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon. All the 22 players Jurgen Klinsmann has brought in are coming off seasons in Europe or Mexico. On Saturday, the 40-player roster for the Copa Centenario was cut down to 23. Of the 23, eight are with the USA in Puerto Rico.

1. The goalkeeping battle resumes.

Since the start of World Cup 2018 qualifying, Klinsmann has alternated Brad Guzan and Tim Howard  in goal. Guzan started against St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Howard got the start in Trinidad & Tobago. Howard started the first game against Guatemala in March -- the 2-0 loss in Guatemala City -- while Guzan was in goal for the 4-0 win in Columbus.

But since both Guzan and Howard lost their starting jobs with their EPL clubs, the Puerto Rico game will be the first chance for Klinsmann to assess their current form. The third keeper with the team, Zach Steffen, is not eligible for the Copa Centenario and likely around for a first look-see of the national team environment.

Update: Klinsmann on Saturday said that Guzan would be his No. 1 keeper for the Copa Centenario.

2. Injuries should open up opportunities.

Both Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson, who are expected to start at the Copa Centenario, came into camp with injuries, so neither would be expected to start on Sunday.

Update: Neither Cameron nor Johnson accompanied the USA to Puerto Rico.

That will open up opportunities for other players to start, perhaps Matt Miazga alongside John Brooks in the back, and Emerson Hyndman or Alfredo Morales in midfield.

Besides Steffen and Hyndman, five other players aren't eligible for the Copa Centenario -- Caleb Stanko, Paul Arriola, Fabrice Picault, Amando Moreno and Julian Green -- but they all could see action. With only Bobby Wood among the first-team forwards in Puerto Rico, Arriola, Picault or Moreno could earn his first cap.

3. Puerto Rico readies for Caribbean Cup qualifiers.

The U.S. game is a warmup for Puerto Rico's Caribbean Cup qualifiers in June against Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda. Puerto Rico has one MLS player -- NYCFC defender Jason Hernandez -- but he is not in Bayamon. Most of the players hail from local clubs or U.S. colleges.

Among the eight uncapped players is Jeremy Hall, who played for the USA at the 2005 U-17 World Cup. Hall made more than 100 appearances in an MLS career with five clubs and now plays for the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Manolo Sanchez made three MLS appearances for the New York Red Bulls in 2015 and is now with San Antonio FC, the new USL club.

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): *Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), *Tim Howard (Everton), *Zach Steffen (Freiburg II).
DEFENDERS (6): *John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Eric Lichaj (Nott. Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), *Michael Orozco (Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), *DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham).
MIDFIELDERS (6): *Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), *Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg), Danny Williams (Reading).
FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Tijuana), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Fafa Picault (St. Pauli), Amando Moreno (Tijuana), *Bobby Wood (Union Berlin).
*On final Copa Centenario roster.

5 comments about "USA-Puerto Rico: Three storylines to follow".
  1. Bob Ashpole, May 20, 2016 at 9:32 a.m.

    Anybody else would be sending a youth team against what is essentially an amateur team.

  2. beautiful game, May 20, 2016 at 10:54 a.m.

    Why P.R.? A confidence builder would be a solid opponent.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, May 21, 2016 at 12:21 a.m.

    I suspect that it was arranged last year before the U23 team was eliminated from the Olympic qualifying.

  4. John Hofmann, May 20, 2016 at 2:55 p.m.

    I assume the explanation of why the ineligible players listed can't play in the Copa Centenario...but I missed it.

  5. Miguel Aviles, May 20, 2016 at 8:56 p.m.

    John, only those named to the 40 player preliminary roster are eligible for Copa America. the 7 listed were not on the 40 player preliminary roster.

    This seems like nothing more than a glorified scrimmage.

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