Today is the day we suffering US fans find out if our opening match was a major fluke or a sign of something much more troubling. After a few days of sniping between the coaches and players, declarations of war, and the movement of the team to a US military base, we have to hope that things have gone well during practice and that Bruce Arena has a game plan in hand that won’t go out the window after the first goal by Italy.
As the Washington Post notes:
Arena and the players swear there are no lingering effects from the one-sided defeat and that several good training sessions have helped restore confidence.
"No one put their heads down, training was a great commitment, people were smiling and having a good time and building for the next game," Reyna said.
This is a good thing. While some brutal introspection was likely called for after the 0-3 loss to the Czech Republic, the danger that it would linger into the vital prep time for Match 2 was very real.
The other open question on everyone’s mind is what the lineup will be.
"We better have a bit of an attitude that we can play and that we are ready to play over 90 minutes or we’re not going to be successful," Arena said. "Our 11 players on the field have to be ready to play tomorrow."
Who those 11 players will be is shrouded in secrecy, Arena’s standard approach to international matches during his 7 1/2 -year tenure. On Tuesday, Arena pledged to make changes to his lineup that started against the Czechs, but stopped short of revealing details.
Based on Monday’s result and Arena’s tendencies, it appears veteran midfielder John O’Brien will rejoin the lineup. O’Brien, injured and out of shape most of the spring, played the last half of Monday’s match. Eddie Johnson, a fast forward with a dangerous shot, could join Brian McBride on the front line, allowing Landon Donovan to drop back into his preferred role in midfield after a listless effort as a withdrawn forward against the Czechs.
Like many, I expect O’Brien and Johnson to start. Beasley may not and hopefully is prepared for that, ready to come in when needed and make an impact. The other option being Arena feels Beasley has something to prove and will put it all on the field trying to makeup for his subpar performance earlier. That would be a big risk, but Coach Arena isn’t one to normally take the safe route. We shall see!
UPDATE: WorldCupBlog has a thread going with folks posting their own lineups.