BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, February 13, 2012
The US national team is set for their first major test of 2012 when they travel to Genoa in two weeks to take on Italy.
There aren't likely to be many surprises on the US roster but there are likely to be a few changes. The biggest change is likely to be in the midfield where a rejuvenated Sacha Kljestan is likely to be given another look by US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Kljestan is having a very strong year with Belgian leaders Anderlecht and he is now playing at a high enough level where he will likely force Klinsmann's hand.
For now, I think Brek Shea will also get the call but that may not be a sure thing. Shea is likely to play a big role for the US U-23 national team in Olympic qualifying in March and the U-23s will be having their final camp at the same time. In fact, the US U-23s will be playing Mexico in Shea's home stadium in Dallas the same day as the US-Italy game.
It is quite possible for Klinsmann to have Shea play there instead of the Italy game.
On the other hand, US U-23 players Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Sean Johnson, and Bill Hamid will likely play with the Olympic team for that friendly.
Alfredo Morales is a players who is difficult to predict. He hasn't impressed recently with Hertha Berlin and is eligible for the US U-23 team. US Soccer is likely trying to determine if Hertha will release him for U-23 games but if they don't, does Klinsmann feel he is good enough to get called up to the senior team?
In the backline, Michael Parkhurst played well in the January friendlies and could earn the call-up to the top national team.
Tim Ream, George John and Robbie Rogers are coming off moves to English clubs but are yet to break through with their new teams. For that reason, they are unlikely to be called in.
Predicted US roster for game against Italy on February 29, 2012