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U.S. v Chile Preview

The U.S. men’s national team plays its first match of 2011 Saturday night against Chile at the Home Depot Center. There is no national TV coverage of the game.

Because tomorrow is not a FIFA sanctioned date, none of the U.S.’s European players like Tim Howard or Clint Dempsey will be playing. Instead Coach Bob Bradley, with one eye on this summers Gold Cup, has put together a young (average age 23), internationally inexperienced, M.L.S. based roster for the match.

Bradley believes that Chile will present an important test to his side, especially considering his charges’ lack of experience.

“I think they’ll test us because Chile comes out and presses and is a team that can fly. Fly forward. Fly back. And so our ability to handle that kind of tempo and that kind of pressure will be very important.”

At the back expect to see Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream in the center of the U.S. defense. Both men earned their first caps in 2010 and they will both be competing for a starting spot in the full squad this year.

In the midfield, I expect Bradley to play the creative Mikkel Diskerud in center midfield, with Alejandro Bedoya on one side and Brek Shea on the other. It will be interesting to see how well Diskerud copes with the high pressure tactics of Chile.

Up front Bradley has few choices as Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury and Chris Wondolowski are the only true strikers on the roster. U.S. fans have to hope that one of these three can step up in 2011 and help the national team in it’s weakest area.

What are you expecting from the U.S. tonight?