It’s been two weeks of USMNT January camp, and the 23 man roster has been named for the two upcoming friendlies. Union players, Chris Pontius and Alejandro Bedoya made the squad, Keegan Rosenberry did not. Rosenberry’s exclusion is disappointing, especially since it’s likely that Bruce Arena will play Graham Zusi at right back in theses friendlies. However, Rosenberry will continue to get call ups, and will eventually see playing time for USMNT, if he continues to play at the high level he played at all last season. I think he’ll contribute to the USMNT in the Gold Cup that takes place this coming summer. Bedoya and Pontius will likely see some minutes in the two friendlies. Today is the first friendly against Serbia. Will the Union players fact in this match? Here’s a USMNT vs Serbia Preview!
ICYMI: Bruce Arena revealed the 23 players who will suit up tomorrow for #USAvSRB.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) January 28, 2017
This is the first friendly in the “Bruce Arena 2.0 era” as many are calling it. Arena’s second stint as USMNT coach begins with looking at this group of players. He’s looking for players that will be able to help contribute to the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in March. Players that do well in these friendlies, will no doubt, be brought back into camp for the World Cup qualifiers. Will Bedoya and Pontius be able to impress?
Today, in the match against Serbia, Bedoya’s positioning will say a lot about where he will play in Arena’s system. Bedoya has played the wing, as the number 10, and as the number eight for the USMNT. His versatility is a great asset to Arena, and it’s one that could play a factor today against Serbia. But where is it most likely for Bedoya to play? Of the eight midfielders other the roster, there are six players that play centrally in the midfield, and two players who play the wing.
The players who play the 10 are: Benny Feilhaber, Sasha Kljestan and Darlington Nagbe. This position has some good depth, so it is unlikely that Bedoya features there. The players playing the eight are: Jermaine Jones, and maybe Micheal Bradley. This position has two of the best central midfielders USA has ever seen in this spot. Bedoya should be third on the depth chart at this spot. The wing players are only Chris Pontius, and Sebastian Lletget. I think Bedoya ranks higher than Lletget for this game based on experience. Even though Arena coached Lletget at LA Galaxy over the last few years, Bedoya seems to be the clear choice as the player on the right-wing.
That means that fellow Union player, Chris Pontius, is the clear starter on the left wing.Pontius is a left-winger, that is his spot. Based on the lack of left-wingers on the roster, it would seem that this is Pontius’ position for these coming friendlies. So the Union could have two players start today for the USMNT, how will they do against Serbia?
If Arena’s past is any indication of how USA will play, it is likely that the formation for today’s game will be a 4-4-2. Bedoya, and Pontius will be the wingers. The Union players will look to stay wide, to be able to use their ability on the ball to create attacking chances. Both have the ability to cut inside to create dangerous runs into the box. They also are good wide sending in crosses. If the Union players are indeed the wingers today, they’ll look to feed Jozy Altidore. Altidore is getting his 100th USMNT cap today, and will look to be a dominant force. I see the starting 11 as this:
Nick Rimando; DaMarcus Beasley, Chad Marshall, Steve Birnbaum Graham Zusi; Chris Pontius, Micheal Bradley (C),Sacha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya; Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore.
The Union are well represented in this January camp. Against Serbia two Union players should be on the field as starters. Be sure to catch the game today, on ESPN2, at 4:00 PM. Lets hope the USMNT can pull out a confidence boosting victory in their first game of 2017.
Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports