Date: Tuesday, Oct. 11
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Venue: RFK Stadium, Washington D.C.
Television: ESPN, UniMas
All-time record: 2-0
The United States Men’s National Team plays its last friendly before kicking off The Hex next month against Mexico and Costa Rica. After initially naming an experienced squad for the international friendlies against Cuba, Klinsmann sent nine players home and called up seven less-experienced players to try and impress in camp and in game.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
DEFENDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
What to watch for New Zealand
The Kiwis are titans of the Oceanic Football Confederation and have twice qualified for the World Cup, most recently in 2010. Headlined by West Ham center back Winston Reid and Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, the squad easily trumps any in Oceania and shapes up as a mid-level Asian side.
Like the Americans, the New Zealanders are preparing for a tough go of World Cup qualifying. They must finish first out of a three-team group with Fiji and New Caledonia, and then beat the winner of the other OFC group, all to earn a playoff against the fifth-place team in CONEMBOL qualifying for a spot in the World Cup.
It is somewhat of a perfect side for Klinsmann to experiment against as the visitors are competitive but still favored to lose.
What to watch for the USA
This match is Klinsmann’s last chance to see playing time from any of his squad before he makes his final selection for the Hex next month. Out of the callups over the weekend, Juan Agudelo, Matt Besler and Terence Boyd stand out as players who could contribute at any point during World Cup Qualifying. The match will also likely be the international debut for 20-year-old Lynden Gooch who has impressed so far for Sunderland in the Premier League.
Klinsmann’s main roster question heading into November and beyond is who his third goalkeeper is behind stalwarts Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. Ethan Horvath made a case for himself with a strong performance against Cuba in the 2-0 win. Both David Bingham and Wiliam Yarbrough should compete for the spot going forward, but Klinsmann’s Euro-centric leanings were on display in giving Horvath the start Friday over Yarbrough who has been excellent for Liga MX side León. As Howard and Guzan fade into old age, the USA needs to develop the next generation of stoppers at a position that used to be its strongest asset.
What to expect
This is another game that the USA should win without too much trouble, despite New Zealand being a few steps up in talent over Cuba. The focus point for the USA is the performance of fringe players who could play their way into future call-ups for important games. If there was any reason to worry at all about the result, it would be that the USA needs to at least keep pace with its rivals Mexico, who won 2-1 against New Zealand on Saturday. At a venue where the USA has had a lot of success (8-0-1 in last nine matches at RFK Stadium), the Americans should turn in a promising display before a stern set of opening Hex matches.