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ASN Weekly Debate

What Can We Expect from the Friendly in Russia?

The American squad is playing a friendly against the Russians in Krasnodar next week. Ryan O'Hanlon and Noah Davis discuss what and who they hope to see. Hint: Lots of new faces, hopefully.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
November 09, 2012
7:15 AM
Editor's Note: ASN's Noah Davis will be in Krasnodar, Russia next week covering the match on the 14th.

Noah Davis: Okay Ry, what is the point of this friendly in Russia?

Ryan O'Hanlon: The point, it would seem, is to readjust the barometer of American soccer between the two stages of qualifying. It'll give us something to either get irrationally angry or maybe-not-quite-irrationally excited about.

Davis: It's strange that this seems to be the last time they will play for... like a long time, right? This whole "Death of the January Camp" storyline is fascinating to me. But if you're Jurgen Klinsmann, what's your goal for this game?

O'Hanlon: If I'm Klinsmann, I'd get a haircut and start dressing better for games. But beyond all that vital stuff, it'd seem like a pretty good spot to bring in some guys who haven't really gotten a look yet—basically all the ones John listed in his 10 Players piece. For basically everyone on that list, a game against Russia in Russia would be the most difficult thing they've ever done in their professional lives. Seeing how some of them do in that environment—small sample size it definitely is—would seem to hold at least some merit. Sans Jozy Altidore, that is.

Davis: A small sample size is better than no sample size, but I agree, let's see how some of these guys do. I think this will be a really interesting group, one that says a lot about the next year. Do players like Josh Gatt, John Anthony Brooks, Aron Johannsson, and Mix Diskerud get calls? There's part of me that feels like any Euro-based player not on this squad probably won't figure much in 2013.

O'Hanlon: It'll definitely be an interesting group—or at least it should be. I hope they all get calls, just so we can actually see them play in something that isn't a YouTube video or a Scandinavian league match. And I guess that's maybe part of it, that we're always looking for the next thing so we can then dismiss it and move on to the next-next one. American soccer!

Anyway, any Euros who don't get the call-up would seem to be way on the outside, maybe not even allowed to look in, but again who the hell knows with Klinsmann still. I mean, Alan Gordon. But yeah, it does seem like he's starting to figure his pool out and maybe develop some kind of "plan."

Davis: At the very least, he's learned he needs to express the fact that he has a "plan" to the media. The hope and dream meme is so 2008. So what's the takeaway here? A win? A result? A good performance from Player TBD who shows he can contribute going forward? I would trade the latter for the former, but I am in the "it doesn't really matter when this team loses a friendly" camp, which is not the most popular one. I would also like to see Josh Gatt on the field, so everyone will just stop talking about it.

O'Hanlon: I could make a Nate Silver joke right here, but I shouldn't and I won't. I promised myself I wouldn't, coming into this. The main takeaway will be hopefully Josh Gatt getting on the field just so we can verify his existence and then stop talking about him. Other than that It's a friendly, so how much can you really get from it, outside of just leaving the game without any long-term injuries? But it's also never a bad thing to see the U.S. play well in a tough environment against a pretty good opponent. I'll take that, and then I'll forget about it within a week and start getting nervous for qualifying.

Davis: I would also like to see John Anthony Brooks. Brian Sciaretta hearts the dude, and he might not be wrong. Everything Gale Agbossoumonde was supposed to be. Sidenote: remember when Agbossoumonde got a cap? That seems like forever ago. As does the rise and fall of Juan Agudelo, who also got his first cap that day. Man, international soccer is brutal.

O'Hanlon: I only remember it because you just brought it up, which basically characterizes every non-Gold Cup event between World Cups. At this point, I know Juan Agudelo as a ridiculous Twitter persona and not as a soccer player. He's also—wow—still 19. Why am I following a 19-year-old on Twitter? And why am I asking you about it?

Davis: Because I'm very smart. Agudelo in Russia?

O'Hanlon: I doubt it. Even though I'd like to see it because he's actually a good soccer player. Weird that the thought of a 19-year-old striker getting called up for a game against Russia doesn't feel that exciting.

Davis: Well, I'm excited regardless. Prediction and breakout player? I say 3-1 Russia and Terrence Boyd.

O'Hanlon: I'll say 2-1 to Los Russians, and John Anthony Brooks as my guy. I'm interested to see how a 6'7'' person can play soccer and not be Jan Koller. I'm also interested to see how you fare in the press box, where you can only drink vodka and you have to drink vodka every time someone completes a pass.

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