In 90 years of recorded statistics, the United States and Ireland have only faced off 8 times. They rekindle the flame as the squads meet in Dublin for a friendly fixture, with Ireland leading the all-time series 4-2-2. The last time the teams played, Bruce Arena was the American coach, and the match was played at (now torn down) Landsdowne Road. With new faces all around, this friendly will be an interesting look at both sides.
Before getting to who will be playing in Dublin, we first must get to who WON’T be in attendance. First and foremost, as expected, both managers released their MLS players who are still vying for the MLS Cup with their club teams. For Ireland, that includes legend Robbie Keane, as the countries all-time leading goal scorer heads back to the LA Galaxy. For the US, DeAndre Yedlin will return to the Seattle Sounders, while Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones will head back to the New England Revolution. For Nguyen, this trip may have been a token of his MVP-caliber season, as it does not seem like Jurgen is clamoring for him on the national team. The Jermaine Jones Defender Project will also be put on hold as the Revs look to win the MLS Cup. Yedlin may be returning to the UK soon, as he has reportedly received his Latvian passport, making him immediately eligible for Tottenham.
With Yedlin and Jones heading back to the MLS, that leaves just five true defenders plus Fabian Johnson for the Ireland fixture. It will be interesting to see if Klinsmann gives Rubio Rubin his second straight start, as the forward made his appearance for the US against Colombia last week. Jordan Morris (Stanford) and Miguel Ibarra (NASL) are two young players based the US who are hoping to log some minutes and impress for the USMNT. Nick Rimando is set to start in goal, giving the defense for the United States a rock to rely on. The midfield may be the biggest question for the friendly. Mix Diskerud will be a free agent come January, and very well may be playing for a new contract at a new team. World Cup veterans Alejandro Bedoya and Kyle Beckerman will also be available if called upon. Jozy Altidore will most likely captain the US once again.
As for Ireland, the biggest question will be where the goal scoring will come from for the Irish. Since Robbie Keane is returning to the MLS, there are only 2 Irishmen who have more than 10 international goals. Shane Long and Kevin Doyle have 11 and 14, but the next highest scorer for the Irish only has 5. They do have one stalwart on the squad in the form of John O’Shea. The Irish captain has over 100 caps to his name, and an illustrious career to boot. He was a jack of all trades at Manchester United, even putting on the goalkeeper shirt in time of need. Now at Sunderland, O’Shea still brings Premier League level experience to the Ireland squad.
It will be interesting to see how the US lines up against Ireland. Jurgen Klinsmann took a 4-5-1 variation to Brazil, but ran a 4-1-3-2 against Colombia. Rubio Rubin was an exciting second fiddle to Jozy Altidore, something that had been missing in the United States attack for some time. Kyle Beckerman thrives as the deep-lying midfielder, helping a sometimes hapless back line. Greg Garza seems to be the left back of the future, and hopefully these friendlies will help him gain the experience needed to succeed in the next World Cup cycle. Another player to watch will be Julian Green, as he has been deployed as a midfielder and a winger in his career. It is feasible that this team could very well be made up of a large portion of the squad that will head to Russia in 4 years.
The Irish typically run a 4-4-2, with Keane and another striker up top. Since Keane is absent, it will be interesting to see who will be paired together against the US. The only real certainty is that captain John O’Shea will be in the Irish defense. Who will be the next star for the Irish? We have no idea as of now, but the Boys in Green are hopeful that a trio of 22-year-olds can lead the next generation. Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, and Cyrus Christie will have plenty of time to develop, but the sooner the better.
Personally, I am very excited to see Rubio Rubin again. There were heaps of positives to take away from his debut, despite not having much hype thrown upon him beforehand. The 18-year-old may lack in some skill areas, but already has a well-developed body, something Julian Green has not acquired yet. I would also love to see at least a cameo appearance from Jordan Morris. This is the Stanford products second camp with the USMNT, but has yet to see the field. With players like this, it is very easy to get excited for the next World Cup Cycle.