CHESTER, PA – JULY 25: Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States looks on before playing Panama during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Third Place Match at PPL Park on July 25, 2015 in Chester, Pennsylvania. Panama won in a penalty shootout. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

USMNT’s future begins to take shape as pair of friendlies approach

Don’t let anyone tell you that all friendlies are meaningless. That’s especially not the case for the United States men’s national team and it’s hope of competing at the heights of the international soccer world. It also is do-or-die time for manager Jurgen Klinsmann and his future with the national side.

Klinsmann’s side will take on South American opponents Peru and Brazil during this FIFA-mandated international window, and it isn’t just the USMNT side that has a lot to play for in these friendlies either. For both Brazil and Peru, these matches are the last real tune-ups before they head in to 2018 World Cup qualifying in earnest.

That’s a good things for these friendlies, because after collapsing during this summer’s Gold Cup the USMNT need to prove it can play against quality opposition and do good work in the process.

Klinsmann isn’t going to be fired win-lose-or-draw, but dropping these two matches certainly would add fuel to the fire for those wanting Klinsmann gone. It also would mean a nasty losing streak for the national side heading in to its critical FIFA Confederations Cup playoff against rival Mexico next month.

To that end, all eyes are going to be on the squad selection for Klinsmann heading in to the first match on Friday night against Peru (7p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1). Plenty of change needed to happen in the back line and up top, as nothing seemed to really work for this group at the 2015 Gold Cup back in July.

Perhaps the biggest spotlight is going to be placed on the two guys starting in front of goalkeeper Brad Guzan. That’s because Klinsmann surprisingly called in both John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado after the duo was shaky at best and dreadful at worst throughout the Gold Cup. With both Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez also being called up, don’t be surprised to see that duo get a crack at producing some more effective results at centerback.

We also know that Tim Ream and Geoff Cameron are getting cracks at the fullback spots, a pair of interesting moves made out of necessitiy thanks to injuries to both DeMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson.

It also shows just how thin the USMNT is on talent at the position, as both are arguably playing out of normal position and Klinsmann couldn’t be bothered to call in other options for left or right wing/fullback type of players.

Additionally, no Michael Bradley means the USMNT must find itself a playmaker in the midfield. There aren’t a ton of those options available either, as Danny Williams and Jermaine Jones are the only likely players to fill that role — which says a lot of how this group came together ahead of this match. It’s not as if either are naturally distributors out of the midfield or anything.

No inclusion in the squad for these friendlies sparked more outrage than that of Jozy Altidore, as he failed to produce in the Gold Cup. However, we may end up getting to see the duo of Altidore and Aron Johnannsson up top for one last go.

So, while the results may not be the most important part of what happens over the next two games, getting positive results out of the play of the men on the field are badly needed for this squad and its future heading to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The question is, will this experimental group step up and help build momentum or will it further sink Klinsmann and his hopes of being around beyond this calendar year?

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a contributor to The Comeback as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10. He also is a member of the FWAA and has been covering college sports since 2011. Andy is an avid soccer fan and runs the Celtic FC site The Celtic Bhoys. If he's not writing about sports, you can find him enjoying them in front of the TV with a good beer!