Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has announced his starting XI for tonight's CONCACAF World Cup qualifer at Costa Rica.
Michael Orozco Fiscal will replace the injured Brad Evans at right back for the Americans and will appear in his first WCQ since October of 2008. Jozy Altidore will not start as he nurses a hamstring injury.
USA LINEUP (4-2-3-1)
Tim Howard; DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Belser, Omar Gonzalez, Orozco; Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley; Fabian Johnson, Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi; Clint Dempsey [C]
UPDATE: (10:00 PM EST) - Michael Bradley has limped off during warm-ups with a left ankle sprain. He has been replaced in the lineup by Geoff Cameron. This does not count as a substitution for the USA.
COSTA RICA LINEUP (4-4-2)
Keylor Navas; Michael Umana, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Johnny Acosta Zamora, Bryan Oviedo; Cristian Gamboa, Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda, Christian Bolaños; Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell
While I know everyone in New England was hoping to see Michael Parkhurst start at right back, clearly the decision to hold out M/D Geoff Cameron is almost certainly as a cover for any yellow card accumulation suspensions the US might incur for the Mexico game. Seven players are currently carrying a yellow, and why accumulating two is a suspension is beyond be, but this is CONCACAF.
The majority of the USA defense remains unchanged, with Beasley, Gonzalez and Belser still anchoring the backline in front of Tim Howard. Jones and Bradley are still in the holding midfield spots, looking to facilitate and lead the US attack. The left side pairing of Fab Johnson and Beasley has been very solid of late, so Klinsman has opted to keep those two together and inserted the very in-form Donovan into the withdrawn striker role and pushed Dempsey up top with Zusi still manning the right side.
I love this lineup from Klinsmann, it makes a lot of sense and plays to the strengths of the team in their recent 12-game international winning streak. Donovan and Dempsey should be able to switch and play off each other very well. The dangerous overlapping left side remains intact, and that's where the US will generate most of their attack, partly to take pressure off the right side and Orozco, mostly because it's effective.
Costa Rica has but out a strong side, and there's plenty of options on the bench, with Real Salt Lake's Alvoro Saborio, the Ticos leading scorer on the current roster available on the bench.
We're kicking off shortly and I'll be doing mostly play-by-play for everyone who doesn't have BeINsports (which is probably a lot of you) so everyone can follow along here and I also recommend the MLSSoccer.com Golazo feature.
Winner goes to the top of The Hex.
LET'S GO USA!