Will Klinsmann continue to experiment, trying different combinations to get a look at some more lineup possibilities, or does he focus on trying to bring together his first-choice lineup, the 11 players he sees taking on Ghana in the World Cup opener on June 16 in Natal?
It is not an easy question to answer because there is still so much uncertainty about several positions. Central defense, the left wing and left back all remain in play and if Klinsmann isn’t ready to call a winner yet in any of those positional races we very well could see some experimentation going on against Nigeria.
At left back, DaMarcus Beasley should slide back into his starting role after sitting out the win against Turkey. Tim Chandler didn’t exactly have a great game on Sunday, so Beasley is looking more and more like the starting option for the World Cup opener. The Nigeria match should give him a good chance to show why he’s the choice.
On the left wing, Brad Davis has had two solid performances and looks to be in serious contention for a starting role, but I see Alejandro Bedoya back in the lineup for the Nigeria friendly. The Nantes midfielder didn’t have his best game against Azerbaijan, but he’s coming off a strong season in the French first division and should have another opportunity to show why he’s the best starting option on the left.
Central defense seems wide open still, with John Brooks throwing his hat into the conversation over who should start. Matt Besler hasn’t had his best games in the send-off series but remains a top option. Geoff Cameron should start alongside him at the World Cup, but if Klinsmann wants to give Omar Gonzalez and/or John Brooks a chance to show why they should start then we could see Cameron benched for the Nigeria match. A Besler-Gonzalez tandem makes sense on Saturday unless Gonzalez is still bothered by his recent knee injury. If so, then John Brooks should be given the opportunity to impress again after his strong outing against Turkey.
You could argue that defensive midfielder remains up for debate, especially after Kyle Beckerman was solid vs. Turkey and Jermaine Jones had some mixed results. Nigeria would offer Bckerman his toughest test to date, and even though I think Jones will wind up starting against Ghana, the Nigeria match could be Klinsmann’s chance to see if Beckerman is worth considering for the World Cup opener as well.