RUSTENBURG, South Africa -- Three thoughts on my mind heading into the U.S.'s first-round game against Egypt today at the Confederations Cup (2:25 p.m. ET, ESPN2):
* Can the Yanks right the ship? I'd argue that today's game is as important for the U.S. (or even more so) than the first games of this tournament against Italy (a 3-1 loss) and Brazil (an ugly 3-0 defeat). Italy and Brazil have won a combined nine World Cups, and while Egypt has played well in this tournament, it's not exactly a global powerhouse. The Americans might as well forget about the semifinals, but they are in dire need of 1) a win, and 2) a good performance to show that Thursday's amateur hour display against Brazil was an aberration.
* Will Bob Bradley finally test the kids? I'm still scratching my head over Bradley's decision to keep José Francisco Torres on the bench against Brazil and to start DaMarcus Beasley. Both of Bradley's surprise starters on Thursday came back to haunt him, with Beasley playing a brutal 45 minutes and Sacha Kljestan drawing a red card. Torres may be young at 21, but he's coming off a good season with Pachuca, one of Mexico's top teams, and he mysteriously hasn't seen the field for the U.S. since coming off at halftime at Costa Rica. As for Freddy Adu, I'd like to see him get some run in the second half, at the very least. Adu hasn't played much at club level this year, but he could provide a second-half spark and gain some confidence for what one hopes is a regular spot in the U.S. midfield during the Gold Cup.
* Will Egypt suffer from an alleged hooker hangover? The Pharaohs have been the revelation of this tournament, beating Italy 1-0 and losing to Brazil in a 4-3 thriller. But things may be going sour off the field. The Egyptians were burglarized at their hotel after the upset of Italy, but now it's being reported that the burglars may in fact have been prostitutes who were visiting the Egyptian players that night. (An Egyptian spokesman issued an angry denial.) This is a big game for Egypt--a win against the U.S. would give the Pharaohs six points and a solid chance to ace out Italy for a semifinal berth. But could HookerGate be their undoing? Either way, it should make for some fun questions at the postgame press conference.
What's on your mind heading into this game? Can the U.S. get its act together? Who do you want to see on the field? Check my Twitter page for starting lineups and other updates, and come back to the Confederations Cup blog later for postgame reactions.
USA lineup: Guzan, Spector, Onyewu, DeMerit, Bornstein, Dempsey, Bradley, Clark, Donovan, Davies, Altidore.
Egypt lineup: El Hadary, Said, Farag, Abdelghani, Al Muhamadi, Fathi, Abd Rabbou, Shawky, Eid, Gomaa, Aboutrika.
USA: In: Guzan, Clark, Davies; Out: Howard, Kljestan (susp), Beasley. Still no Torres. Egypt: Out: 3 starters (including Zidan/Homos).
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