US likely to get new players involved in qualifying opener
ST. LOUIS (AP) Darlington Nagbe and Matt Miazga could make their national-team debuts when the U.S. opens World Cup qualifying Friday against 129th-ranked St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The team knows it's time to work in young talent.
''It's important to get some new blood in, some new faces,'' captain Michael Bradley said before practice Friday in a 57-degree chill at Busch Stadium. ''It's important with any team to find that right balance.''
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann acknowledged there will be lineup changes.
''Only if you give them opportunities and minutes on the field over time, will you see if they're capable of stepping up,'' Klinsmann said. ''We believe they're ready.''
Klinsmann did say goalkeeper Brad Guzan will start on Friday and Tim Howard is set to play Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago ''if everything goes fine,'' which would be Howard's first competitive appearance for the Americans since making 15 saves in the extra time loss to Belgium in the round of 16 at last year's World Cup.
''Obviously, for me it's a big game,'' Guzan said. ''Listen, it's no secret we know the results haven't been good for us. Come tomorrow night, we win, and we win on Tuesday, all of a sudden everyone's talking a different game.''
The U.S. is 1-4-1 in its last six games, losing to Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil and Jamaica. The Americans have lost three in a row on home soil for the first time since 1997, restarting complaints about Klinsmann.
''We did our homework,'' Klinsmann said. ''We won't underestimate them, not even one second.''
The 25-year-old Nagbe is a midfielder for Portland and became a U.S. citizen in September. The 20-year-old Miazga is a defender for the New York Red Bulls and started for the U.S. this year in the Under-20 World Cup and with the Under-23 team in Olympic qualifying.
Miazga said teammates have been very welcoming for the short time since he arrived.
''I definitely feel like I've matured as a player,'' he said. ''It's definitely a step up when you have a bunch of top players around. I'm looking forward to challenging myself at this level and competing with these guys for a spot.''
Seattle forward Clint Dempsey was left off the U.S. roster for the opening qualifiers and striker Aron Johannsson is injured. Other forwards on the roster include Jozy Altidore, Alan Gordon, Bobby Wood, Gyasi Zardes and Jordan Morris.
Fabian Johnson is on the roster despite a flap with Klinsmann, who sent the defender back to Germany before an exhibition against Costa Rica last month. Johnson had asked off late in a 3-2 overtime loss to Mexico that cost the U.S. a spot in the Confederations Cup.
The U.S. will be facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the first time. The Caribbean country has never made it to the final round of World Cup qualifying.
''We're not naive to think to think that our performances haven't been great,'' Bradley said. ''With qualifying, it's a new cycle and a chance to put things right. The journey is long and that starts tomorrow, so you can only be excited about that.''
The foul poles were removed to much fanfare earlier in the week, improving sight lines for about 3,000 fans. A near capacity crowd of 44,000 is expected.
''Obviously, a very famous ballpark,'' Klinsmann said. ''And we're ready to get started on a marathon.''