In six previous matches between the countries, the United States has beaten South Korea just once and drawn twice. It'll look to improve that ratio when the South Koreans travel to the States, though the USMNT will also take the opportunity to give some young and fringe players a look.
South Korea is coming off a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a friendly between the two nations, though the game itself was far from friendly. Costa Rica had two men sent off, as Christopher Meneses was shown a straight red and Mauricio Castillo picked up two yellows.
The United States will be looking to secure a more positive result.
When: Saturday, Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. ET
Saturday, Feb. 1 at 10 p.m. GMT
Where: StubHub Center, Carson, Calif.
Watch: ESPN; WatchESPN
With the exception of Mix Diskerud, who plays for Rosenborg in Norway, the entire United States team will be coming from the MLS. That excludes Jozy Altidore, for one, while a few regulars like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and DeMarcus Beasley were left off the squad.
Still, there are plenty of players to watch for in this game, including Real Salt Lake 20-year-old Luis Gil, who could be a star for the United States in the future. Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth had the following to say about Gil, via Jeff Carlisle of ESPN:
I think Gil has got a great opportunity to be in the next pool of players for the World Cup, for sure. He's really good technically, he's comfortable on the ball and he's proven he can be better tactically than people give him credit for. He's effective. He's done a fantastic job when given the opportunity.
DeAndre Yedlin and Diskerud are also worth monitoring closely.
This game is a great litmus test for the United States, as South Korea is also a World Cup team. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann talked about just that in a Q&A with USSoccer.com:
It’s a game at the end of January camp where you want to see the players implement the things we worked on in these three-and-a-half weeks. You want to see the progress they made throughout the camp to get an idea of where they are individually. It helps to finish [the camp] off with a game or maybe two because it’s something they are looking forward to. Otherwise, they train, train, train but can’t prove it in a game.
Now, in a World Cup year against an opponent who will also be a part of the World Cup, it’s something they can use to measure themselves a bit knowing that Korea’s players—many are based in the K-League in Korea, so similar to us in MLS. It’s a pretty good team and Costa Rica already experienced that. They had absolutely no chance against them on Saturday. We get a nice benchmark there for the group that we have together now and then we go from there.
South Korea will finish its three-match tour by facing Mexico. And two more positive results will have it feeling very confident as we approach the summer. Remember, South Korea drew a very favorable group with Belgium, Russia and Algeria.
That's no cakewalk, of course, but it's far easier than facing Germany, Portugal and Ghana like the United States.
This isn't the United States A-team by any stretch, but the Americans have been quite good over the past year on the international stage, even when they find themselves without key players. They also have the obvious advantage playing at home, and a fresh Landon Donovan will be a handful for the South Koreans to deal with.
This game will be tight, but look for the United States to prevail, winning 2-1.
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