Defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo have already returned to their European clubs, and there’s some doubt as to whether Oguchi Onyewu can go again after playing 90 minutes on Saturday against Poland.
So we’ll definitely see some new faces in the back, but what else can we expect as the U.S. lines up against a rising young Colombian side fresh off a 1-0 win over Ecuador?
Will Brad Guzan get the nod tonight? Hey, he made the trip from England; odds are coach Bob Bradley makes it worth his while.
Heath Pearce will almost certainly start in place of Bocanegra, and Jonathan Spector, who hasn’t been playing for West Ham lately, could fill in for Cherundolo. Will Bradley take a chance and throw 21-year-old Eric Lichaj in for his first cap? Probably not at the start.
The middle of the defense is even more up in the air. Colombia has two dangerous strikers in Radamel Falcao and Giovanni Moreno. Falcao, who stars for Porto, is lightning quick, so Bradley will look for a centerback pairing to deal with that.
Edu may stay in central defense instead of moving to his more accustomed midfield for just that reason. Michael Parkhurst is also a possibility, and the athletic Spector has played in the middle before.
Gooch seems unlikely, and the 6-4 Clarence Goodson would need a speedy partner if he gets the call.
Bradley may stand pat with the five-man crew he used against Poland—it’s a way to get all of his best players on the field (same reasoning behind Edu starting in the back).
The Jermaine Jones–Michael Bradley central midfield pairing could use some more time to develop, and tonight’s a good opportunity for them to get another game together—though we can’t help but wonder what an Edu-Jones central midfield could do.
Benny Feilhaber was fairly ineffective against Poland, so if there any changes in the midfield, they may start with him being dropped. Alejandro Bedoya has had somewhat limited opportunities with the Nats; maybe he gets a full bite at the apple tonight with a start in place of Feilhaber. Also: Bedoya’s father and grandfather were both professional players in … Colombia.
Hopefully we’ll see 20-year-old winger Brek Shea, he of the adventurous hairstyle choices, get his first cap. He can also play as a striker, giving Bradley another option up top.
Jozy Altidore scored a goal and had several other chances against Poland, so we’d bet Bradley lets him try to keep the momentum going. But we expect to see Eddie Johnson at some point, and maybe even at the start if Bradley goes with two strikers. Also possible: Dempsey and Shea.
Who do you think should start? Would you like to see Edu slotted alongside Jones in the central midfield? And most important, should Shea ever go back to the cornrow look?
Let us know in the comments, and enjoy the game.