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Klinsmann set to see Dempsey-Donovan duo

Clint Dempsey (8) and Landon Donovan (10) (Mandatory Credit: Fevre/Presse Sports via US PRESSWIRE)
Clint Dempsey (L), Landon Donovan have yet to play together under Jurgen Klinsmann.
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Ives Galarcep

Ives Galarcep is a 14-year veteran of the American soccer beat. He created and operates the popular American soccer blog, Soccer By Ives, which was voted Best American Soccer Blog by US Soccer in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Ives was also voted Best Football Writer by SoccerLens in 2010. 
 

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Coming off a stretch that saw both players tear up the Barclays Premier League, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan will now have a chance to play together for the first time since last summer’s Gold Cup when the United States takes on Italy.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s roster for the Italy friendly came out on Thursday, and while there weren’t many surprises, the presence of both Dempsey and Donovan on the squad for the first time since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley last summer is significant. It means we will get a chance to see how Klinsmann plans to deploy his two best players (and how he sees the rest of the team fitting around them).

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Donovan’s presence will almost certainly mean a place at forward for Dempsey, be it as a second striker in a 4-4-2 or a withdrawn forward/playmaker in a 4-2-3-1. Donovan should man the right wing he has played so masterfully for Everton in recent weeks.

Here are five more thoughts on the roster Klinsmann called up to face Italy on Wednesday:

BOYD GETS FIRST NOD

When Terrence Boyd’s name appeared on Thursday’s USA roster, it may have come as a surprise to some, but not to anybody who has watched him train with the US Under-23 national team.

The German-born Boyd combines impressive size and strength with a strong shot, and he boasts the qualities of an ideal target forward. He has yet to break through with the Borussia Dortmund first team, but that isn’t exactly a strike against him considering how stacked Dortmund is.

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Projected to be a starter when the United States begins Olympic qualifying next month, Boyd’s call-up to the senior side should put to rest fears that he may wind up choosing to play for Germany.

KLJESTAN MISSES OUT AGAIN

The biggest omission from Thursday’s squad was Sacha Kljestan, who is enjoying a career year with Anderlecht. It wasn’t the first time he has been overlooked, but a look at the midfielders called in shows just how tough the competition is for places. It was no surprise that Klinsmann favorite Jose Torres got the nod ahead of Kljestan, and Hoffenheim teammates Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams have both been getting regular minutes in Germany.

Where does that leave Kljestan? At the moment he remains the odd man out, but if he keeps playing at the level he has enjoyed this season in Belgium, Klinsmann may have no choice but to consider including him when World Cup qualifying rolls around this summer.

ANOTHER SHOT FOR PARKHURST, CAMERON

The last time we saw Michael Parkhurst and Geoff Cameron in national team uniforms, they were struggling against Panama. It seemed unlikely either player would be called up again this soon, but injuries to Oguchi Onyewu and Zak Whitbread paved the way for the pair to earn another look.

USA VS. ITALY

Check out the US players in line to take on Italy on February 29.

Cameron’s red card versus Panama marred what was actually a good stint with the national team in January, and it will be very interesting to see whether it is he or Parkhurst who get the nod alongside Carlos Bocanegra in central defense against Italy. Klinsmann could also turn to Danny Williams, who has been getting games in central defense for Hoffenheim.

JOHNSON HAS A CHANCE TO LOCK DOWN LEFT FLANK

The absence of Brek Shea from this group makes it pretty clear that Klinsmann plans on trotting out Fabian Johnson on the left wing again, and considering how good he looked against Slovenia, it is a position he could wind up locking down for the foreseeable future.

What scenario might find Johnson elsewhere? Steve Cherundolo has endured his share of injuries in recent months, and it is pretty clear that Tim Chandler is going to be his successor at right back. If Cherundolo can’t start versus Italy, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Chandler at right back and Johnson at left back, where he has seen time for Hoffenheim.

Wherever he plays, Johnson is a safe bet to start on Wednesday.

GUZAN BACK IN THE FOLD

Plenty was made of Brad Guzan’s decision to skip last summer’s Gold Cup to get married, and when the months went by without another call-up, you couldn’t help but wonder whether he made a mistake. A strong run of starts for Aston Villa was enough to bring Guzan back in the fold though as Klinsmann gets his first good look at a player widely regarded as the second-best goalkeeper in the national team pool after Tim Howard.

Bill Hamid has been pegged as Howard’s No. 2, but only a lack of playing time could keep the more experienced and more proven Guzan from reclaiming his spot behind Howard. A free agent this summer, Guzan stands a very good chance of being a starter in England come next season, and even if he doesn’t play against Italy, the fact he has been called up makes it clear Klinsmann knows what Guzan can bring to the table.

Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.

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