The 20 players called into the United States' pre-friendly training camp began arriving over the weekend and took the field Monday morning for their first session. Bob Bradley will work with the score of men for a week before they battle Poland on Saturday night in Chicago. They then take on Colombia at PPL Park outside of Philadelphia.
The two matches will give the mix of veterans—a baker's dozen traveled to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup—and newcomers Brek Shea, Eric Lichaj, and Jermaine Jones a chance to play together. Intrigue abounds on whether Bradley might experiment with some new tactics.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan
The Illinois-born 'keeper should split duty between the pipes with American No. 1 Tim Howard. It only makes sense that Guzan take the field in his home state. Everton's starter, however, will probably earn his 56th cap for the Nats three days later in Philadelphia.
Defense (left to right): Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Steve Cherundolo
Bradley will most likely stick with his vets to man the backline in the opening minutes of the first match. Bocanegra continues to shine in France, helping St. Etienne to first place in the Ligue 1 table. Cherundolo, his partner across the field, was wonderful in South Africa and captains Hannover 96. Oguchi Onyewu can't find the field at AC Milan, but should get the nod assuming he's healthy. Clarence Goodson may be seeing more time in the center of the field, especially if Jay DeMerit doesn't find a club. Eric Lichaj will earn his first cap, either as a second-half substitute against the European side or half a country away, half a week later. Surprise inclusion Michael Parkhurst will get involved only if there are injuries to Onyewu, Goodson, or Bocanegra.
Midfield (l to r): Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Benny Feilhaber, Stuart Holden, Clint Dempsey
Even without Landon Donovan, the Americans boast a glut of talent in the midfield. Bradley will try to get as many of them on the field as possible, especially with a week to train and install some new wrinkles in the US gameplan. Jones deserves to earn his first cap, staying next to Bradley the younger in a central defensive midfielder role. Expect to see Holden hold down the middle ahead of the pair, with red-hot Feilhaber and Dempsey flanking Owen Coyle's new favorite American. This formation leaves Alejandro Bedoya on the sideline, but he'll see some time on one of the wings. (Another, more traditional, option is Feilhaber/Bradley/Jones/Holden with Dempsey and Jozy Altidore in the striker spot, but hopefully Bradley experiments a bit.)
Forward: Jozy Altidore
Plain and simple: The 20-year-old needs a goal. He had multiple chances last week with Villarreal, but flubbed the opportunities badly. (He knows it, tweeting "Well the good thing is the bad luck can't get any worse. Gotta find my groove asap!") He's only scored once for the national team since September 5, 2009, a span of 12 matches and 893 minutes. Will the tough luck end against Poland?