Orange Slices: USA vs. Venezuela Preview

January is treating TSG like Gio Dos Santos doing the US at the 2011 Gold Cup. Unmercifully. Ouch.

Parkhurst gets his shot?

Thanks for baring with us.

On to what you came here for.

The US attempts to break down Venezuela at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona Saturday night 6pm PT.

For the US, this match will represent the first time that Jurgen Klinsmann has had more than two weeks to prepare his team for a match.

While the player selection will be devoid of the creme-de-la-creme not in camp, a certain degree of homogeneity should have been spawned from a training period where the players have gotten comfortable with one another in Carson, CA.

That means that a US defense should be more cohesive than a typical camp while there should be better interplay up the pitch when attacking.

The US will play a Venezuela team that is a on an upswing. Los Llaneros are steaming forward on a trajectory that began with the changing of guard to youthful Coach Cesar Farias.

Farias took over in 2007 and his resume should make him a diety already back in the homeland: Venezuela’s first win over Brazil, a near-miss in qualifying for World Cup 2010, a semifinal birth for the first time in the 2011 Copa America with wins over Chile and Argentina.

The Venezuelan side might be lacking their Euro stars like the States, but they’ll come in a well drilled team and, if they deploy as expected in a 4-4-2, then the US will attempt to win the press-up-the-pitch battle that they’ve been trying to practice since Klinsmann’s first match.

TSG What We’re Looking For

• Centerback selection and competition

This Venezuela match marks the first time that US fans will get to see alternate options at arguably the US’s weakest position, centerback. Mind you, the States are not short on possibilities, but no one–new–has stepped up to own the role.

The options that were thought to be be first choices coming in to camp, Omar Gonzalez and George John, are now no longer–the latter loaned to West Ham and the former now recovering from season-curbing knee surgery.

The injury and moved created a chance for Geoff Cameron to get the feature look that many analysts and fans were rightfully pining for. (Though unproductive in the wake of a MLS Cup game injury, it’s curious to wonder if Klinsmann would have faciliated a loan for the Dynamo man in the off-season.)

In an interesting move–and on that is likely telling–Cameron has been playing left centerback in camp. With the experienced Heath Pearce out on the left flank and Brek Shea the arguably the States’ strongest attacker on Sunday, don’t be surprised if Jurgen Klinsmann sends the ball more frequently into Venezuela’s rear right side kitchen with the US experience and firepower on that side.

Tactically-sound bet Michael Parkhurst will probably get the start at RCB.

Old guard or new guard

Currently an international man of mystery...Zusi...

Take a look at this in threes. In the “old guard” you have Benny Feilhaber, Jermaine Jones and Ricardo Clark. The new guard? Perhaps Graham Zusi and an elevated Jeff Larentowicz.

Is Jurgen looking to be competitive and then the “vets” out or did he merely bring the likes of Jones and Clark in camp to provide competition.

Venezuela’s B+ B- team here represents a sizable challenge for MLS players who haven’t seen game action. Watch who Klinsmann entrusts with which role. It say more about the status of Feilhaber and Jones particularly if they don’t get the early run out.


» Will Chris Wondolowski be left on an island in second January camp game like last year?

» Will Geoff Cameron make foraging runs forward to add to the attack, not something that Klinsmann has employed with the senior squad?

» Will Bill Hamid get his first look in goal? Can Bill Hamid marshall a new defense against a difficult first-time opponent? Has Sean Johnson possibly usurped Hamid’s spot in the pecking order? Or will it be vet Nick Rimando who will steady the first-time backline?

Possible USMNT deployment versus Venezuela

continuing to Orange Slices—

Orange Slices! USA vs. Ecuador

Orange Slices is our game day, catch-all post that we update during the day before the match

Media Coverage:

Galavision and ESPN3, and fans can also follow the games via‘s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer.

And of course, Taylor Twellman is tagged and John harkes is gonged out.

Around the web:

Reading material:

» Jon Levy, Yanks Are Coming, with a preview. Always a good read.

» Sports Illustrated’s veteran Steve Davis with his take.

Weather forecast:

A gorgeous sixty-degree night in Phoenix on Saturday which pretty much trumps the weather anywhere in the States right now.

Surf forecast:

Game is in Phoenix. So. No.

No grudges:

» The USMNT with just three matches in the books all-time versus Venezuela. The last one? Clint Dempsey and Brian tallying against the visitors in Ohio in 2006.

And here was your US line-up that day.

USA : 1-Tim Howard; 2-Chris Albright, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 13-Jimmy Conrad (Capt.), 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 8-Clint Dempsey, 14-Ben Olsen (24-Michael Bradley, 89), 16-Josh Wolff (21-Landon Donovan, 66), 15-Bobby Convey (17-DaMarcus Beasley, 65); 11-Brian Ching, 9-Eddie Johnson (7-Eddie Lewis, 83)
Subs not used: 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 5-John O’Brien, 6-Steve Cherundolo, 10-Claudio Reyna, 18-Kasey Keller, 19-Marcus Hahnemann, 20-Brian McBride, 23-Eddie Pope
Head Coach: Bruce Arena

No magic spray:

» MF Kyle Beckerman and FW Juan Agudelo–amazing two of the campers with the most caps–are out for both Venezuela and Panama. In terms of Beckerman, the steadying influence probably would have been helpful against the quick counters of both teams.

Not again:

If you recall, AJ DeLaGarza–a possible starter on Saturday–was the only not used in last year’s January opener by then-manager Bob Bradley in a 1-1 draw again Chile.

More on Venezuela:

  • Venezuela’s first match of 2012. Venezuela last played against Costa Rica on Dec. 22, 2011, falling 2-0 in the international friendly at Metropolitano Stadium in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.
  • Venezuela’s forward corps includes two familiar players from the MLS front – Chivas USA’s Alejandro Moreno and the Columbus Crew’s Emilio Renteria. Moreno is the only forward among this group to have scored in international play with three goals.
  • Midfielder Miguel Mea Vitali has earned the most international caps among Venezuela’s roster with 82.
  • Midfielder Angel Chourio is Venezuela’s leading scorer among this roster with five goals in 17 games. Midfielder Alejandro Guerra is second with four goals in 35 career games.

33 responses to this post.

  1. Pesky team…perfectly able to take advantage of superior opponent’s mishaps to capitalize, could be another Ecuador game


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/01/21 at 1:14 AM

      Venezuela? Oh, could and may be a win. Certainly superior in attack than the US. Superior to Ecuador imo.


  2. Posted by Kim Il Sung on 2012/01/21 at 1:35 AM

    for the love of all things sacred don’t play 4-5-0-0-1 with wondo as the one… he is a great striker now let’s use him properly

    would prefer big red to clark. MLS stars > Bundesliga2 benchwarmers right?


  3. Posted by Jared on 2012/01/21 at 5:02 AM

    I’d be very surprised to see Wondo start ahead of Bunbury if the US goes 4-5-1/4-3-3.

    Clark needs to stay on the bench. He doesn’t belong on the team anymore especially since he doesn’t play at all.

    Cameron needs to perform if given the chance. He’s the type of player that should fit into Klinsmann’s style of center back pairing and this camp might be his only chance to prove he belongs.


  4. If you’re watching soccer tonight, make sure you watch the 115th Seville Derby, the first one in three years, at 4PM EST on ESPN3.

    It’s going to be epic!


  5. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/21 at 7:35 AM

    I would love to see a 4-4-2 diamond again. Take out Larentowicz and add Boon-bury. I am not sure we are ready to switch to a 4-3-3 and get good offense. Need the second striker to keep Wondo from being left on an island.


  6. Posted by Charlie G on 2012/01/21 at 7:55 AM

    No surf report ?

    Check out “Big Surf” in Tempe.


  7. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/01/21 at 9:21 AM

    whitbread helped keep a nice clean sheet for norwich and deuce has a potential game winner. come on a/b/c team, please hold up your end of this deal.


  8. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/01/21 at 9:24 AM

    nice finish dempsey. the tail of two halves. deuce is on a hattrick now.


  9. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/01/21 at 9:34 AM

    Howard’s flapping at aball into the box leads to another goal conceded.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/01/21 at 9:41 AM

      True and Deuce proving that Downing comparison are way off. :> — All in good fun George — welcome back.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/01/21 at 10:23 AM

        Talking of which, Downing’s Liverpool playing at the Reebok at 12:30 EST. Has Ream and Le Toux finalised their moves to Bolton Wanderers?

        If Dempsey was a good penalty taker, he could have scored all five today!


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/21 at 11:09 AM

          Do you still think that Dempsey couldn’t replace Ramsey, Arshivin, or Benyoun in the regular line-up?

          Arsenal getting Worried about missing out on CL next year. Deuce could play for them this year in that competition. Would add some grit that you don’t get from some of the softer Arsenal players. Haven’t heard anything on the transfer front involving Arsenal. I imagine they need to do something.


          • Posted by Excellency on 2012/01/21 at 12:05 PM

            Arsenal are looking for a left back. It’s really hard to see Dempsey fitting into Arsenal’s style of play. If Fullham fans were offered a straight up swap, Dempsey to Chelsea, Torres to Fullham, do you think they would go for it? Makes you think, huh? Dempsey is scoring because he is playing for the right team.


            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/21 at 12:15 PM

              Of course Fulham would take it. Torres would fit better in the Fulham 4-4-2 probably even better than in Chelsea’s 4-3-3. He would play well off Zamora getting the ball from Ruiz and Dempsey. He also has at least twice the resale value.

          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/01/21 at 1:24 PM

            It’s not that I do not think that Dempsey could not replace Ashavin, Benayoun. I think none of them are good enough for Arsenal [if they want to be considered genuine title challengers].


            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/21 at 2:37 PM

              Point taken. Dempsforetold never see the field for Man City or Barca. I don’t think Arsenal is a a serious CL or legit tittle contenders with this squad (even without major spending). IMO they are a RVP injury from missing out on the Europa League. Without moves I don’t see them catching Chelsea for 4th.

            • Posted by Damon on 2012/01/21 at 5:19 PM

              Bernie- I agree that Arsenal probably wouldn’t catch Chelsea without some moves, but keep in mind they have played most of the season without Wilshire, Sagna, and Gibbs. Just getting those guys healthy would be better “moves” than anyone else in the league is likely to make.

            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/21 at 10:29 PM

              We will see what tomorrow brings but 5 points back is a lot particularly since Chelsea has not been playing well. IMO they will have the same points as Newcastle at the end of the day tomorrow and no one is thinking Newcastle for anything more than Europa League.

            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/21 at 10:32 PM

              I think Cahill for David Luiz is a huge upgrade. They also have some young big money moves that may become more prominent in the second half of the season. Plus Essien coming back is huge. Also I wouldn’t be surprised if they add another piece before the window closes.

  10. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/01/21 at 9:52 AM



  11. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/21 at 9:53 AM

    Donnovan looking good with his corners and free kicks. Out of that slump that he had last year.


    • Posted by Excellency on 2012/01/21 at 11:58 AM

      Donovan has picked up the play of Everton but he needs to be more aware of where the players around him are, freind and foe aike. Wynalda and his English bud on Fox Soccer post game called it “hiding” – showing your teammates the back of your head. I think LD just needs a little more time to adjust to the pace/ability of the play in the EPL

      In any case, I think Moyes was as bad managing this game as he was good managing the previous. He put in Drenthe with a 1-0 lead and the young fellow eagerly proceeded to give up the ball in the worst spot of all, leading to a counter that forced a yellow on his teammate and the free kick which scored the tying goal. Moyes did other weird stuff. Shades of sweatpants.

      Everton has half a team. Half of the play is good and half is bad.


  12. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/01/21 at 10:32 AM

    I gambled between the two games being shown on FS and FS+, and chose to watch Everton vs Blackburn Rovers. Wish I had tuned into Fulham vs Newcastle United.

    In other news, Crystal Palace were up 1-0 and then conceded two goals in the last five minutes. I know players were rested due to the League Cup SF 2nd Leg on Tuesday, but come on. We have got to be able to close games out – we are now 6 points outside the play-off spots.


  13. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/01/21 at 10:36 AM

    Skrtel should have brought down Davies outside the box and collected the yellow…


  14. Posted by Excellency on 2012/01/21 at 11:45 AM

    Methinks Jurgen will be calling ZakWhitbread after seeing him play defense for Norwich against Chelsea today.


  15. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/01/21 at 12:12 PM

    i know wondo has the experience and stuff, but it would be nice to see coach klinsmann use his players like he might in qualifing and if wondo were ever picked for a qualifer, he would probably start on the bench. it would just be nice to see him come in at maybe the 60 min mark. lets see teal up top as a lone striker with shea zusi and feilhaber feeding him.


  16. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/01/21 at 1:28 PM

    If Liverpool were managed by somebody else, who thinks that he would have been sacked by now?


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/01/21 at 1:49 PM

      well, gerrard has been out a good chunk of the season and now suarez is out. the powers that be will let things matriculate along a little more. suarez and gerrard on the pitch together should be real nice for liverpool. tough loss, but it makes evertons loss to bolton a little more understandable. bolton is not rolling over, thats for sure.


    • Posted by ClingingMars on 2012/01/21 at 2:31 PM



    • Posted by Jared on 2012/01/21 at 2:41 PM

      Pretty much anybody else would have been either sacked or the pressure would be so high that ownership would have no choice but to sack him. Liverpool are awful to watch and it doesn’t seem that Dalglish has any idea how to manage a team in the current age of rotation. He ends up with bizarre lineups where he’ll go with Carroll up top but not any actual wingers. Then he’ll leave Carroll on the bench and bring in Kuyt but play with actual crossing wingers.

      Liverpool fans would have demanded his head weeks ago if it wasn’t their precious King Kenny. I’m definitely not disappointed by how poorly they are doing because I have long thought their fans were out of control. Throw in Dalglish’s terrible decision to fully back Suarez about the racism and they have been very unlikeable as a club.

      They should be extra upset considering that both Chelsea and Arsenal are having down years. With the money they’ve spent under the new owners they should be doing much better. Too bad Dalglish wasted it on players that play the style of 20 years back when he was relevant.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/01/22 at 7:59 AM

        Wow was that ugly. Great point that “Anyone but King Kenny” would have been sacked by now.
        Andy Carroll’s ponytail has officially declared its independence from the rest of his embarrassing body. I don’t know that I’ve seen a more useless player at this level who continues to get a run out. Never goes full out and when he does his lack of apparent footballing skills exposes him as the fraud that he is.
        As much as we all loved the Charlie Adams story last yr (‘hey, if Charlie can, maybe I could’…) he looks like a Championship level guy playing for a top level club. Those 60 yd no look balls just don’t seem as much fun when it’s your squad.
        Yes Suarez is a huge loss as their best player but Kenny’s lack of contact with the 21st century might keep them out of Europa even.
        Good to see Stevie back though.


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