The United States got their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with four points from two matches in March, but they are hardly secure. Still fourth place in CONCACAF qualifying, they need a good showing in next week's matches against Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico. But before they get into those matches, they have a friendly against Venezuela (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET on FS1) to help them prepare.
There's a giant hole in the U.S. midfield. Michael Bradley will be in the center of the pitch, but there isn't a clear partner for him with Jermaine Jones injured and aging. That opens the door for Acosta.
The 21-year-old has been in amazing form for FC Dallas. He's not simply been good for a youngster -- there's an argument to be made that he's been the best midfielder in MLS this season. There might be some concern about his inexperience on the international level -- he got his first gap last year and has never started a World Cup qualifier -- but if he can show well against Venezuela then it could go a long ways to putting him in the starting lineup in next week's qualifiers.
The Americans have had trouble filling the left back spot for nearly two decades now, but Villafana finally got his chance to take the spot once Bruce Arena took over and has shined. Nobody would confuse Villafana with a world class fullback, but he's steady and dependable both in defense and going forward. Most any team would take that, and considering the Americans have struggled to find left backs, they are over the moon to have that level of play. Villafana can further cement his spot at left back with another strong performance in this friendly.
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Johnson has been one of the best U.S. players for several years now, but he has yet to play for Bruce Arena. An injury kept him out of the March matches and this friendly will be the first time we get to see how the new U.S. boss wants to use Johnson. Arena has said he thinks Johnson is best in the midfield, but on which side? And as more of a wide forward, or a traditional winger, or even as a shuttler in a diamond midfield?
Johnson's versatility gives his manager so many options and now we'll get to see how Arena wants to use him.