HANOVER, N.J. — United States national team coach Dave Sarachan is weighing his defensive options for an international friendly against perennial powerhouse Brazil Friday at MetLife Stadium.
Playing with three centerbacks, as he did in a 1-1 draw against France in early June, is an option. And the odds are pretty good that one of those defenders will be John Brooks.
Sarachan said before training on Wednesday morning Brooks would be returning to VfL Wolfburg after Friday’s match and will not be part of the fold for the friendly against Mexico on Sept. 11 in Nashville.
“He had a tough year last year, and it’s just after preseason, just getting started, so I felt this would be a good opportunity to give him this first game,” Sarachan said of Brooks, who was limited to just 12 games with Hertha BSC due to injury last season. “He’s excited to be here back in the mix, he’s in good form with his club and so far this week with us.”
While centerback appears to be a position of depth — with the New York Red Bulls duo of Tim Parker and Aaron Long joined by former Red Bulls player Matt Miazga, on loan with Nantes, and Cameron Carter-Vickers, on loan at Swansea City from Tottenham, all vying for minutes.
There’s also a wealth of talented central midfield players for Sarachan to choose for these two games. Among a handful of options are Tyler Adams of the Red Bulls, Kellyn Acosta of the Colorado Rapids and Wil Trapp of the Columbus Crew, who has previously worn the captain’s armband — though Sarachan said that hasn’t been decided for the upcoming games — and Schalke’s Weston McKennie.
“It’s tricky. We have a number of guys I would love to give minutes to,” Sarachan said. “You are limited with substitutions, so we’re going to have to see how Game 1 goes, but I feel very confident that whoever we put in can do a good job.”
Sarachan also hinted at utilizing Tim Weah of Paris Saint-Germain “a little more in a wider midfield role” than as a forward.
As for the group of forwards, Sarachan said he likes the versatility that Gyasi Zardes, Hannover’s Bobby Wood and Andrija Novakovich of Fortuna Sittard brings.
“I’ve gotten to know each and every one of them. Obviously Gyasi I coached with the Galaxy and know him well, another guy playing with a lot of confidence. Bobby is in good physical condition. He didn’t get to play as much in the first game [for Hannover] because of a red card and came on as a reserve,” Sarachan said. “Novakovich is obviously excited to be here and has done well in his role and they each offer something a little bit different. That’s kind of what I’ve seen this week, each have offered something a little different.”