The United States' Men's National Team is looking to close out 2013 on a high note, even after a record setting 2013 that saw the USA win the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and finish first in World Cup qualifying and an overall calender record of 16W-3L-2D.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has gone with a mostly European based squad and did not select any players from the four teams still alive from the MLS Playoffs, so Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi and Matt Besler will be among the recent mainstays not selected. Here is the roster from USsoccer.com:
GOALKEEPERS: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
MIDFIELDERS: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
(Note: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) and Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim) were selected for the squad but withdrew due to injury. They were not replaced.)
An injury kept Brad Guzan from his usual No. 2 spot on the keeper depth chart and Nick Rimando and Real Salt Lake are still in the MLS Playoffs, Klinsmann has gone with Hamid and Johnson as the backups. They've never really had a chance on the international level, just five caps between the two, and barring a significant injury, they're still fourth or fifth on that depth chart going into Brazil. It will be interesting to see if Klinsmann lets them split the second game at Austria in net.
Defensively the USA have a lot of options. Odds are that Beasley and Evans keep their starting spots out wide, but in the middle it will be interesting to see who gets paired with Gonzalez. I'd like to think that Cameron would get the start and perhaps Brooks gets subbed on to help close the game out. Lichaj would be a solid option of the bench as well, likely at left back for Beasley, a deserved call-up for him as well and another player I'd like to see get 90 against Austria.
At the midfield, again, no questions at the holding spots with Jones and Bradley but with injuries and MLS playoff duties, the attacking three again will be brand new. There's a lot of ways for Klinsmann to play this, but I'm thinking Shea on the left, Diskerud in the center and Bedoya out wide. Kljestan off the bench in the holding/center spot if needed and Jozy could always drop back as well later in the game. Starting Jozy in the withdrawn Dempsey-like role behind the Iceman and moving Diskerud out to the right wouldn't be a terrible idea either.
At striker, I don't expect to see anything less than Altidore up front to start despite his recent form at Sunderland. Eddie Johnson and Wondolowski can always be an option out wide, possibly for Shea and Bedoya respectfully on the left and right, later in the game and Johannsson will likely get some action off the bench as well. While we might not see it against Scotland, it would be wonderful to see the in-form pairing of Johannsson and Boyd up front in strike pairing at some point as both players are in top goal scoring form for their clubs.
As for Scotland, it's not exactly a roster that's deep with international experience, most notably Vancouver Whitecaps' striker Kenny Miller was not selected for this game. But there are a few players who I happen to like on this roster, especially Norwich City midfielder Robert Snodgrass and a possible striker pairing of Steven Naismith of Everton and Steven Fletcher of Sunderland (who by the way, is battling Altidore for playing time.) Both Snodgrass and Naismith scored in Scotland's 2-0 win against Croatia last month. Scotland played a 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 with Snodgrass in the withdrawn striker spot behind Naismith in that game.
Defensively, Scotland could start the same back four from that Croatia game with Charlie Mulgrew (10 caps), Grant Hanley (11), Russell Martin (9) and Alan Hutton (36) going left to right. Usual keeper Alan McGregor is not on the squad, and David Marshall (8 caps) is the most experienced of the three men called up.
PROJECTED USA LINEUP (4-2-3-1)
Howard [C]; Beasley, Gonzalez, Cameron, Evans; Jones, Bradley; Shea, Diskerud, Bedoya; Altidore
Possible Subs: Lichaj for Beasley, Brooks for Cameron, Kljestan for Jones, E. Johnson for Shea, Johannsson for Altidore/Diskerud
Despite their lack of recent success internationally, I think Scotland is a pretty good team, and this is not the same reserve filled squad that the USA demolished 5-0 (seriously good times from that game, Donovan scored 3 minutes in to start a hat trick and Steve Cherundolo was in the lineup as well) last year in Jacksonville, FL. This is a pretty good team, ranked 35th in the world according to FIFA (if you believe in those rankings) and the USA is on the road with a lot of big names missing. That hasn't stopped them so far in 2013 but it should be a really good game.
Kickoff is around 3PM EST and the game can be seen on ESPN2.