The United States Men's National Team has announced three friendly matches to become part of the final preparations before competing in the 2014 World Cup.
In this "Send-Off Series," the United States will play three home matches in 12 days to help the squad condition to the circumstances it will see in Brazil.
Here is a look at the information for the three contests starting at the end of May, courtesy of USSoccer.com:
|May 27||Azerbaijan||10 p.m.||Candlestick Park, San Francisco|
|June 1||Turkey||2 p.m.||Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.|
|June 7||Nigeria||6 p.m.||EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.|
While Azerbaijan and Turkey will simply be using these matches as a chance to improve for the future, Nigeria will also be preparing for the 2014 World Cup after qualifying as one of the top teams in Africa.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is certainly excited about the opportunity, as he explained in the official release:
We are absolutely thrilled with the schedule we have put together for the Send-Off Series. We have some fantastic opponents that will help us get prepared for the teams we will meet in the World Cup, and also the opportunity to experience different climates and conditions in the venues. There has been amazing support from our fans these last years on our path to Brazil, and we know there will be awesome atmospheres in each of the stadiums. It’s the perfect way to start our journey.
On the other hand, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated was disappointed with the skill level of the opponents:
With a dozen World Cup teams in the US pre-WC, seems a little strange USMNT is playing only one of them out of three games.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) March 6, 2014
Wahl previously provided a list of teams who could have been available for a friendly:
11 of 32 WC teams currently set to play May/June friendlies in United States: BIH, ECU, ENG, GRE, HON, CIV, MEX, NGA, POR, ESP, USA.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) February 28, 2014
No matter how the United States prepare for Brazil, it is clear that they have to be ready for a tough test right away. They open their tournament on June 16 against Ghana, the team that has knocked out the U.S. in the last two World Cups.
Also in Group G are Germany and Portugal, which are two of the best squads in Europe. This selection of talent will make it a tough task for Team USA to simply get to the knockout stage.
However, there is a lot of time for Klinsmann's squad to prepare for the task ahead. The team will hope to recover from its recent 2-0 defeat at the hands of Ukraine with a friendly against Mexico on April 2. Finally, this send-off series will be a chance for the players to work together immediately before competing on the world stage.
Although the level of competition is obviously not the greatest, the coaching staff clearly believes this will be the best opportunity to get ready for the World Cup.
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