The United States has added another friendly to its World Cup preparations, as it will take on Belgium in a closed warm-up session on June 12 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
FIFA announced the agreement between the sides, which will give both national teams some final competitive testing before starting their World Cup journeys. The Belgian football federation explained what to expect, per FIFA: "It will be a kind of training session for each side."
So it sounds more like a scrimmage than an actual full-blown friendly. It should allow both managers to make sure their squads remain sharp during what's usually a nervous lull between the final domestic friendlies and the start of group play.
The two teams faced off in a friendly last May in Cleveland. Belgium won that match by a 4-2 score thanks in large part to a pair of second-half goals from Christian Benteke.
Leander Schaerlaeckens of FoxSports.com believes that match is a major reason the two sides agreed to train together so close to the World Cup:
Conjecture: Belgium and USMNT not bothered about friendly because they played each other last May anyway/BEL don't think they play US in WC.— LeanderLastNameNoFit (@LeanderOnFOX) May 8, 2014
The Americans are set to battle Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in the United States before making the trip to the host nation of Brazil.
United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann has placed a major emphasis on current form during his time leading the national team. His lineup decisions will be based heavily on what he sees in the friendlies and the training sessions immediately preceding the World Cup.
What do you think of the late training session?
In turn, the closed-door friendly with Belgium could end up making or breaking the chances of certain players when it comes to cracking the starting lineup against Ghana. That's especially true in areas where spots are up for grabs, including the midfield and the outsides of the back line.
The United States is in what many people consider this year's “Group of Death” alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Earning three points against the Black Stars in the opening match on June 16 will be key to surviving Group G.
Belgium is in Group H, which should be much easier to navigate, as it also features Algeria, Russia and South Korea. The Rode Duivels are one of the tournament's potential sleepers and will hope the final training session with the U.S. is crisp and clean as they prepare for a deep run.