7,200 feet above sea level. Six tiers of unmitigated, raucous hell. An All - Seater in name only, with barely raised benches in the style of old Football Fortresses/Deathtraps The Ibrox, Old Wembley, and Parc Des Princes. It is the only stadium to hold two World Cup Finals, professional home of Club America, and spiritual/actual home of our most hated rival, El Tri. Behold, Estadio Azteca.
KEEPER: Tim Howard - Everton. It's the Azteca, and even though this seems like a training exercise, Howard will have to be the generalissimo to the young backline Klinsmann is insistent upon trotting out. Maybe MAYBE MAYBE you could see Sean Johnson from RSL trot out to get a taste of the worst place in the world for a goalkeeper (supporter's end, Azteca), but I doubt it.
DEFENSE: This is the United States' worst area by far. Want to know why we were ranked 12th in the world in 2009 and now we are 33rd? Look to the shitheels on our back line. Gooch is dead. Face it. Captain Carlos is getting old, is already slow, and those ill-timed fouls seem to be creeping up more and more over the past two years. Also, with Klinsmann's transition to possession-based footy, gone are the old-time U.S. CBs who stomp on the forwards and tack it up longball-style to Landycakes up the flank. Now we need backs who can move the ball up the field, play possession, and have enough speed to recover once the up-field pressure fails. None of the vets are capable of stopping Di Nigris & Chicharito from darting in and out of our backline, so we'll see the youth movement tonight. I imagine it will be as follows:
LB - Fabulously Fast Fabian Johnson - Hoffenheim. Fabian might be the most frustratingly awesome player we have in the system. He's absurdly fast, creative with the ball, and hit a devastating cross if needed......for 8 minutes a game. The rest of the time, he's either over-pursuing attackers, losing possession off too-fancy dribbles, or passing the ball to the wrong player. If he can extend his 8 minutes of awesome to 65 minutes, we may have finally solved the left back issue. (NOT BLOODY LIKELY)
CBs - Maurice Edu - Rangers / Geoff Cameron - Stoke. Edu at Center Half!??!!? BLASPHEMER. Well, he is the most responsible player with the ball and can handle Chicharito/Guardado/Berrera speed wise, so it makes sense. Orozco-Fiscal may play back there, but I'd rather see Edu just because he's less prone to drop the two-boot hammer on Chicharito in the box (see Orozco's Red vs. Nigeria in 08). Geoff Cameron is the most ready prospect we have defensively, what with his multiple MLS Starting XI's and recent move to Stoke (purportedly arranged by Klinsmann himself). He sort of shit the bed toward the end of last season with Houston, but that's nothing a good Premier League Off-Season can't fix (this is me being excited that we've finally understood that in order to have good center halves, you have to send them to the toughest league in the world).
MIDFIELD: THIS MAY COME AS AN ATOM BOMB SHOCK TO YOU, O DEAREST OF READERS, BUT THE MIDFIELD IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF POSSESSION FOOTBALL. So this selection is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE. I'll give you two reasons why: one, if you're going to play possession and pressure high up the field, you're midfielders better channel their best Xabi Alonso impressions and hold on to that fucking ball for dear life. Second, which makes the first point even worse, when you play a young inexperienced defense against a gap-exploiting squad like Mexico, your midfielders have to be the most responsible players on the pitch by A FUCKING LONGSHOT. So if the following selection makes you scratch your head and say "Well, Yachtsman, none of these guys are good at that" try and remember it's just a friendly and the golden generation of U.S. Midfielders are all off at their various European League training camps (Michael Bradley, I want to sex your mouth).
CDM - Kyle Beckerman - Real Salt Lake. Last year in Philly, Kyle Beckerman was one of the bright spots for the U.S., and over the past couple of seasons has provided a steadying possessive presence in Mid for RSL (coincidentally one of the most successful clubs in MLS over that same period of time). I like this guy a lot, actually. It pains me to wonder what he could have been if we had a forward thinking head of the program 8 years ago when he was coming up. A stint in Italy would have done this cat some good.
LM - Jermaine "What Could Have Been" Jones - Schalke 04. FRUSTRATION STATION. I love Jermaine Jones. He's tough as nails, can D-up the best of them, and makes the U.S. proud hacking it over in one of the Bundesliga's top tier squads. I also hate Jermaine Jones. It seems like his progress just straight up halted when he got injured a few years back. His offensive game was just coming around, but now it's completely stalled. Watch him when he gets possession tonight: pass-back pass-back pass-back pass-lateral. He strikes me as scared to go forward. Hopefully he's still responsible with the ball. We don't need a lack of creativity AND someone who gets torched.
RM - Danny Williams - Another Hoffenheim product, Danny Williams is sort of an unknown to me. He's a fairly creative player, but with such an inexperienced squad surrounding him, he's going to have to hold the shit out of the ball and figure out ways to get it to Landy & Herc. He normally plays up higher at Hoffenheim, but here he'll have the role of responsible ball keeper like Jonesy. Oh, and good luck when you take those corners, Danny....because we all know Landy is done getting piss thrown on him for his country.
RAM - Landycakes - LA Galaxy. HATE. HAAAAAAATE. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE. I've written of my hatred for Donovan countless times on this shitty little blog, so I'll keep it short: all-world talent, pussy fart backbone. If he decides to show up, we have more than a legitimate chance. If he decides to be captain pampered pussy, we're fucked.
LAM - Jose Torres - Pachuca. I love Jose Torres only for the fact that he chose the U.S. over Mexico for international duty (what, because he may not have cracked the Mexico Senior Lineup ever? Shut your goddamn horse mouth). He's 24, fast as shit, and plays midfield in the Mexican league, so he won't be too bothered by the human waste raining down on him (both literally and figuratively) in the corners at The Azteca. The last time I saw him start was against Slovenia, so I'm excited to see what he can provide to the team.
ST - Chris Wondolowski - San Jose Earthquakes. I. LOVE. WONDO. This guy is a machine. He fits perfectly with Klinsmann's dream of possession football and has been the most consistent striker in MLS next to Thierry Henry. 54 goals in 90+ appearances. Done. Love it. Put him up there and let him make Ochoa cry (if we ever get the ball). Knowing my luck though, Klinsmann will start the world's most overrated striker, Hercules Gomez.