Ah. Now that picture is a sight for sore eyes. My girlfriend marveled at Matt Hedge's fitness in this picture. I remarked that it was shocking indeed given the fact he was a professional athlete whose efforts consisting of jogging or sprinting almost constantly over the course of two 45 minute intervals. I thought to myself I probably should have picked Matt's Napolean Dynamite reprisal for this article's photo instead. Congratulations to Matt on making the roster and earning a new fan today.
All levity aside, the United States Men's National Team has not won in their last four matches dating back to a win over the Czech Republic back in September. While there's been a lot of experimentation with the roster since the World Cup, the Yanks could use some momentum as they prepare for Gold Cup 2015 where a win will earn them passage to the Confederations Cup in 2017. Here are some talking points.
1. 3-5-2? On Wednesday according to multiple sources, the USMNT is primed to line up in a 3-5-2 which is a pretty big departure from what seen out of a Jurgen Klinsmann selection since he took over the reigns of the National Team. While I enjoy experimentation as much as the next, and this is as good a time to experiment as any, I fear this could end up being another loss (and possibly a thumping) at the hands of a good Chilean side. At least Chile's in early season in their domestic league and are not bringing in their European stars for this match. I also think it improves Hedges chance to be in the starting lineup.
2. Olympics preview. Seven members of the roster are age-eligible for the Rio Olympics in less than 18 months, and Klinsmann with this roster (and his training camp selections) made it clear that he is hell-bent on giving Andreas Herzog some more seasoned charges for this Olympics cycle. With the exception of Kempin, all have seen extensive pro minutes in the last year, and all of shown signs (DeAndre Yedlin in particular) that they are capable of making a leap to being top pros and perennial National Team candidates. I am hoping that we see at least one of these players blows me away over the course of the next 2 matches. Forced to choose one, I am going to put my chips in on the long shot Dillon Serna.
3. Foreign DP. What might the Chilean player pool have that might prove as an instant boost to the FC Dallas roster? Outside of the Alexis Sanchez and a few of their other stalwarts, I know very little about the Chilean National Team other than they are really good. Given their wacky 3-4-3 attack-minded setup, I want to see if they have a good winger to pair up with Fabian Castillo. If there is a silver lining to a possible defeat for the Yanks in Rancagua, I want it to be a moderately priced winger with a cultured left foot and top notch speed.
I do not even dare venture a prediction for tomorrow. Anyone else want to take a guess? Anyone kind of curious what Brek Shea has after spending the last couple of years lost in the wilderness? Who else is excited for the first USMNT match of the year? Share your comments and ideas for match-pertinent drinking games below.