Midfielder Brek Shea will be squarely in the spotlight for the United States during its first international friendly match of the 2012 soccer bettingseason, as Venezuela pays a visit to the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona to take on a young American side on Saturday night (9 pm ET, ESPN3).
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With World Cup qualifying action on the horizon later this year, manager Jurgen Klinsmann will be taking a close look at Shea and other rising MLS players against Venezuela in the absence of American stars such as Landon Donovan (Everton) and Clint Dempsey (Fulham) who are unavailable for this weekend’s friendly due to club commitments.
Shea, 21, emerged as a breakout star with FC Dallas by scoring 11 goals (including five game-winners) this past MLS season, and is considered a key piece of the puzzle for the future of the American midfield.
Klinsmann, who has compiled a record of 2-4-1 since replacing Bob Bradley at the helm of the national team, will also continue to tinker with team tactics against the Venezuelans in a bid to find the winning formula that will help the United States contend in their World Cup qualifying matches in June. The Americans are in a group with Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, and Guatemala.
Venezuela has been unable to defeat the United States in three previous matches, falling by identical 2-0 scores in exhibition matches at Cleveland in 2006 and Seattle in 2003, and playing to a 3-3 draw in Ecuador back in 1993.
Venezuelan veteran Alejandro Moreno, who stars at forward for Chivas USA in the MLS, is expected to test the mettle of the American back line on Saturday.
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