U.S. vs. Cuba W2W4: Will Christian Pulisic, Sacha Kljestan link in attack?

Friday's match between the U.S. men's national team and Cuba is the first such friendly to be held on the island nation since 1947.

But the rarity of the visit will be one of the last things on the minds of the U.S. players. The jockeying for roster positions -- and on-field roles -- ahead of next month's World Cup qualifiers already has begun. So here's what to look for when Friday's match kicks off in Havana's Estadio Pedro Marrero (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN).

1. The Kljestan/Pulisic connection

To be clear, the two qualifying victories the U.S. secured last month were not against top-flight opposition. But the matches were notable for the way in which Sacha Kljestan and Christian Pulisic, who had never played together before, consistently found each other in dangerous spots. They assisted on each other's goals against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and linked up well against Trinidad and Tobago.

It's a rare feat indeed for two players to develop that kind of understanding so quickly, and given Jermaine Jones' absence due to a lingering knee injury, it seems almost certain that Kljestan will take the field in a central role. Having Pulisic by his side will allow for valuable time on the field together and the chance to sharpen things up against the titanic Hexagonal opener versus Mexico.

2. Which goalkeeper will get first crack at the job?

Tim Howard and Brad Guzan were both left off the roster, so it will be interesting to see who among the trio of Ethan Horvath, William Yarbrough and David Bingham gets the nod from manager Jurgen Klinsmann.

Horvath was the third-choice keeper at the Copa America Centenario and at a pair of World Cup qualifiers last month against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. So reading the tea leaves, it would appear he has a leg up on his competitors. But flight issues kept Horvath from arriving until Tuesday evening, so Klinsmann could turn to either Yarbrough or Bingham on Friday and then switch things up against New Zealand the following Tuesday.

Either way, plenty of eyes will be checking to see who rises and falls in Klinsmann's reckoning.

3. Which fringe players will do the most to bolster their case?

Michael Bradley will likely partner Kljestan in the center of midfield, but Klinsmann has indicated that he'll be looking to see who can fill that role in the future as well. The U.S. manager has talked up Danny Williams in particular this week, noting that the player has enjoyed a fine season at Reading. Perry Kitchen will also try to make his case for more playing time. He has settled in well at Scottish side Hearts, having been named captain despite being with the club for just six months at the time of the announcement.

Those are by no means the only players hoping to make their move. Midfielder Lynden Gooch will try to replicate the form that helped him earn considerable minutes with Sunderland this season. Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola, who scored the final goal in the 4-0 win over T&T last month, also aims to increase his stock, as does Bayern Munich forward Julian Green.

Not surprisingly, Green has been unable to break into the absurdly talented lineup at Bayern Munich, but he will try to recapture the form he showed during an impressive preseason with the Bavarians. Jordan Morris, who has steadily improved his game with the Seattle Sounders this season, also should get a look.

4. Forging a partnership up top

The front-line pairing of Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore hasn't always looked fluid, but it has been effective. The duo combined for four goals over the two recent World Cup qualifiers, with Wood winning the penalty that Altidore converted against St. Vincent, while Altidore was involved in the buildup to Wood's opener in that same match.

Clint Dempsey is sidelined until the end of the year due to an irregular heartbeat, so Wood has had to tweak his game a bit since the Copa America, where one of his primary tasks was to occupy the opposition center backs. With Altidore on the field, that responsibility can be shared, and the duo can work to combine more consistently over these next two matches.