Here is how Jurgen Klinsmann's side will line up for tonight's opening World Cup qualifier in St. Louis...
The US national team kick-off their World Cup qualifying campaign tonight when they host CONCACAF minnows Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.
The US enter the match on a three-game losing streak, and after a disappointing fourth-place finish at the Gold Cup in the summer and last month’s 3-2 CONCACAF Cup defeat to bitter rivals Mexico, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann knows his side have to begin the road to Russia 2018 in convincing fashion to ease the mounting criticism of his leadership.
Fortunately, Friday’s opening qualifier against a country with a population of just 109,000 will provide the perfect opportunity to make a fast start, but despite being overwhelming favourites, Klinsmann is taking nothing for granted.
“If you have negative results, there are always critics out there,” he told the likes Fox Soccer ahead of the game. “The expectations are always the highest because they are pretty simple: qualify for the World Cup. There is no excuse certainly for that.
“Whenever the games that come up that really matter and count -- like World Cup qualifying or the Gold Cup or a CONCACAF Cup final -- you want to get the higher end of it. You want to win those games. We want to start well into this long run of qualifying games.”
With a new cycle getting underway, Klinsmann opted to hand Matt Miazga and Darlington Nagbe their first call-ups for the games against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, while former skipper Clint Dempsey was left off the 23-man squad to gives the younger strikers like Bobby Wood the chance “to make an impression”.
Few spots in the line-up are set in stone at his point, including between the posts, where veteran goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are set to rotate for the time being until their manager decides on the No. 1.
With Howard due to start in Trinidad and Tobago next Tuesday, Guzan earns the nods for the team’s first Group C game of CONCACAF's semi-final round of World Cup qualification, as fellow Premier League men DeAndre Yedlin and Geoff Cameron start in front of him in defence.
Miazga and Nagbe miss out on the chance to debut from the start, but the promising Wood does get the opportunity to partner Jozy Altidore up top, while Fabian Johnson is pushed up into midfielder to allow Fulham's Tim Ream to slot in at left-back.