May 27, 2014, 9:14 PM EDT
The USA have gone for a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond for their friendly against Azerbaijan in San Francisco on Tuesday night.
With Omar Gonzalez still nursing a knee injury, Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron starts at center back alongside Matt Besler in a new-look U.S. backline.
Left-footed Fabian Johnson is deployed at right back, while DaMarcus Beasley continues at left back. In midfield Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones form a formidable partnership in the engine room with Graham Zusi on the right and Alejandro Bedoya on the left. The diamond formation has been preferred with Bradley supporting the forwards and Jones playing as a pure holding midfielder.
Experimenting with formations and personnel is what these warm up games are all about.
Captain Clint Dempsey will be alongside Jozy Altidore in attack, as Jurgen Klinsmann selected what looks like his strongest XI from the start against Azerbaijan. The Eurasian nation are ranked 85th in the world but should provide the USMNT with a stern test as they prepare for their World Cup opener in Brazil in less than 20 days.
One of the most interesting areas to analyze will be in defense where Cameron and Besler have only started one game together in the past, a 2-0 win over Jamaica in October. With Gonzalez struggling to be fully fit, many are calling for Cameron and Besler to be the first-choice partnership in the heart of the USMNT’s defense this summer.
Let’s see how they fare at Candlestick Park in the first of three warm up games before the U.S. depart for Brazil.
U.S. starting lineup vs. Azerbaijan
Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Jones, Zusi, Bedoya, Bradley; Dempsey, Altidore
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