After another leaky second half the United States heads to Ireland to prove that the players in contention for the Gold Cup, Olympics and Copa Americas deserve the call. This is the final friendly of 2015 and a chance for a very young squad to get more minutes.
That squad sees three MLS players (Nguyen, Jones, Yedlin) return to the States to prepare for their MLS Cup Playoff games. Damarcus Beasley also left the National Team for his club responsibilities. That leaves an American squad with the likes of Rubin Rubio (who did not train Monday), Bobby Wood, Miguel Ibarra and Jordan Morris as non-Altidore options up top. The backline mixes in John Brooks and Greg Garza with vets like Matt Besler. The youth movement is now.
Key Player: Jordan Morris
Will the Stanford standout finally see the field? Klinsmann indicated that he should see time today. If he does take the pitch the eyes of the nation will focus on a Sounder from Mercer Island, Washington. Morris exploits in college and with the Academy show a foundation of a good soccer player, but the test at this level against a solid team on their soil will be the toughest of his life.
Key Question: Why can't the USA play a solid second half?
Ireland is not great (61st by FIFA, 36th by Elo) so the opportunity for a well-played 90 sits in front of Jurgen Klinsmann's team. Though the United States is 6-4-4 in 2014 their performance in the second 45 is worrying. Of those eight matches dropping points seven of them saw the points dropped in the second half. Fourteen of the sixteen goals against the USA are in the second half or later. Whether it is fitness or tactics, the team lacks full performances that would push it from CONCACAF great to world class.
Match date/time: Tuesday, 7:45pm local, 11:45am PST
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
TV: ESPN2 (U.S.), Setanta Sports Ireland (Ireland)
Gamethread: Sounder at Heart up at 10:45am PST