The United States Men's National Team faces Puerto Rico, on Sunday, May 22, in a tune-up for the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
The U.S. heads to Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium for its first-ever game against Puerto Rico. The 29th ranked USMNT will be heavily favored in this match against the 152nd ranked Puerto Rican National team. In Puerto Rico baseball is king, and the quality of soccer on the island still has room for improvement.
This game is expected to be an easy, confidence-building win for the U.S. before it faces friendlies against tougher opponents such as Ecuador and Bolivia.
This friendly does not fall on a FIFA International Date and subsequently many players will instead be playing for their clubs. The U.S. will be without MLS players as well as several European and Mexican based players including Christian Pulisic, Timothy Chandler, and Omar Gonzalez.
Puerto Rico like the U.S., will missing several star players due to club commitments. U.S. fans will be unfamiliar with most Puerto Rican players many of whom are amateurs; however Red Bulls fans may recognize Jeremy Hall and Manolo Sanchez.
Forward Joseph Marrero will be one of Puerto Rico's greatest attacking threats, as he has scored more goals for his country (six) than any other player on this roster. Veteran defender Alexis Rivera, who plays for National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) side Bayamon F.C., will anchor the backline.
Puerto Rico Roster:
Goalkeepers (3): Matthew Sanchez (Loyola Greyhounds), Jose Arroyo (Penn State Abington), Bryant Velázquez (Western Nebraska Community College)
Defenders (4): Emmanuel D'Andrea (Sevilla C), Juan Velez (Criollos de Caguas FC), Elliot Velez (Criollos de Caguas FC), Alexis Rivera (Bayamon FC)
Midfielders (10): Jeremy Hall (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Manolo Sanchez (San Antonio FC), Juan Coca (Kultsu FC), Michael Fernandez (Bayamon FC), Samuel Soto (Bayamon FC), Marcos Martinez (Club Atletico Fajardo), Darren Rios (Florida International Panthers), David Caban (Unattached), Christopher Clark (Albany Great Danes), Christian Abreu (Guayanilla Pumas)
Forwards (4): Joseph Marrero (Puerto Rico FC), Jorge Rivera (Puerto Rico FC), Olvin Ortiz (Club Atletico Fajardo), Luiz Betancur (Florida International Panthers)
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Zack Steffen (SC Freiburg)
Defenders (7): John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham)
Midfielders (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg), Danny Williams (Reading)
Forwards (5): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Fabrice Picault (FC St. Pauli), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
Jurgen Klinsmann told ussoccer.com that "We added some players coming from the younger side to look at them and to get a roster together, but the main purpose of this camp is to keep the rhythm, keep going and to transition perfectly into the preparation for the Copa America Centenario."
Based on this quote it seems as if Klinsmann's starting XI will feature many veterans, however don't be surprised if he gives several young players opportunities in the second half.
The U.S. will rely on stars Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson. Both players had excellent seasons for their respective clubs and will be integral in this match. Look for Johnson to lineup at left midfield and terrorize Puerto Rico's right-back. Cameron should provide his usual stable presence and dominance in the air for the defense.
It is unknown whether Guzan or Howard will start in goal, but look for them to each play a half. Bobby Wood will certainly get the nod up top and with Jozy Altidore out for the Copa America; Wood has a great chance to consistently start for the U.S.
Klinsmann will likely deploy a 4-4-2, but it is unclear which other forward will partner with Wood.
Fafa Picault seems to have a good chance to partner Wood, as Klinsmann seems to be a big Picault fan. Picault seemingly wasn't even on the national team radar until Klinsmann began to tweet about him a few weeks ago.
There are not many natural attacking midfielders on the roster and this position will likely be occupied by either Emerson Hyndman or Alfredo Morales.
If Morales makes the 23 man roster for the Copa America, which will be announced by Friday, then expect him to start. Otherwise Klinsmann may opt to give the young, but promising Hyndman a chance.
The one real question mark for the defense will be at the left-back position. Michael Orozco has been poor in his past few national team appearances and Eric Lichaj has only made eight appearances under Klinsmann despite consistently excellent play, so expect Tim Ream to start at left-back.
The U.S. will dominate Puerto Rico. This match should be a blowout and I predict the U.S. wins 6-0. Any result other than a dominant victory would be concerning for Jurgen Klinsmann.