The U.S. Men’s National Team heads into the second of its two European friendlies today still needing to answer some questions about their attack. The U.S. was unable to break through in a 0-0 draw with Scotland, and the team was noticeably lacking creative spark in the absence of Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.
As the U.S. prepares for this afternoon’s match with Austria, Jurgen Klinsmann should take advantage of this opportunity to tweak his lineup and try something new. That something new should be starting Aron Johannsson instead of Jozy Altidore at striker. I am not saying this as a criticism of Altidore or that this should be a permanent solution, I simply believe that this is a perfect opportunity to see what Johannsson can do at the top of the attack for a full 90 minutes.
Johannsson came off the bench against Scotland, and he immediately had an impact on the game, creating chances and threatening the defense. This has become a common theme for Johannsson in his first few appearances for the U.S., as he has proven to be a super sub of sorts who can liven the attack down the stretch.
However, the U.S. would feel much better heading into next summer’s World Cup if they knew that they had two strikers who were capable of leading their attack and scoring goals. Although Johannsson would not have the same quality of support in this game as he would in a World Cup match, starting him today would still give Klinsmann some insights on whether or not he can play the same energy and aggressiveness for a full game.
Friendlies are all about testing different players and lineup combinations, because there is no risk in losing the game. Klinsmann did not do too much experimenting against Scotland, and as a result the U.S. learned very little about its fringe players. He should be much more open minded with his lineup today, and that begins by starting Johannsson.