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U.S. friendly vs. Canada tonight in Houston

Tonight’s U.S. friendly against Canada is a unique exercise in that individuals are more important than the team.

The outcome is inconsequential, although anything other than a victory against a young opponent coming off a four-goal drubbing to a secondary Denmark squad would bring shame. The U.S. crew, mostly MLS players together for three weeks, is vying for a few coveted spots on the travel roster for the World Cup qualifier against Honduras next Wednesday in San Pedro Sula.

How many will receive Juergen Klinsmann‘s golden ticket? Five to eight, perhaps? The number of healthy and fit bodies in Europe (Fabian Johnson and Steve Cherundolo are hurt) will probably dictate the Houston carryovers. Four might already be set: Graham Zusi, Eddie Johnson, Kyle Beckerman and Omar Gonzalez.

The starting point tonight, though, is the game-day roster of 18. With 23 left in camp, a goalkeeper and four field players will watch from the stands and lose any chance of a Honduras trip. The starting lineup will tell us a lot about who impressed in training camp. And then it comes down to performances.

“We want them to express themselves, we want them to really show that commitment that they’ve shown for 3 1/2 weeks packed into 90 minutes and go at them, play fast-paced soccer, be there for each other, do a lot of movement off the ball and really keep pushing it,” Klinsmann said. “Obviously we want to see players that step it up now and also want to be regarded as a key element for the qualifier, so there’s a lot at stake for the players in this Canada game.”

GOALKEEPERS: Tally Hall, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson.

DEFENDERS: Tony Beltran, Matt Besler, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Connor Lade, Alfredo Morales, Justin Morrow, Jeff Parke.

MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Brad Davis, Mikkel Diskerud, Brad Evans, Benny Feilhaber, Josh Gatt, Graham Zusi.

FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo, Will Bruin, Eddie Johnson, Chris Wondolowski.

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET.

TV: ESPN2, Univision Deportes Network, WatchESPN.

Field: Thankfully, international dimensions have been laid out at BBVA Compass Stadium, providing additional width to a surface kept narrow by the Houston Dynamo for its home matches.

Fact: The Americans have not lost to Canada since 1985, a 15-game streak (8-0-7).

For a Canadian perspective, Sportsnet’s Gerry Dobson offers this piece.

While the U.S. squad prepares for tonight’s match, four Americans abroad are on the schedule today:

F Jozy Altidore for AZ Alkmaar at Den Bosch in Dutch Cup (2 p.m. ET)

GK Brad Guzan and D Eric Lichaj for Aston Villa vs. Newcastle (2:45 p.m. live on Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes; tape at 8 p.m.)

D Geoff Cameron for Stoke City vs. Wigan (2:45 p.m. live on Fox Soccer Plus and; tape on FSP at 9 p.m.)

Cameron is expected to play after missing an FA Cup match against Manchester City with a sore hamstring.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.



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Steven Goff · January 28, 2013

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