Ever wonder what goes into making a World Cup roster?
Well, wonder no more. This spring, ESPN will provide American soccer fans with the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes with the United States men's national team as it prepares for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next month.
The six-episode documentary series, Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil, will take viewers inside USMNT training camp and introduce them to various personalities, including top players like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, as well as decorated manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
With the series set to premiere Tuesday, here, you'll find a complete list of dates and start times.
|Tue, May 13||Series Premiere||7-8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Wed, May 21||Episode 2||7-7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Thu, May 29||Episode 3||7:30-8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tue, June 3||Episode 4||7:30-8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tue, June 10||Episode 5||8:30-9:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Wed, June 11||LIVE Series Finale - Epilogue||9:30-10 p.m.||ESPN|
What to Watch For
The USMNT has another month to prepare for the 2014 World Cup, but it will soon take to the pitch for training camp and a trio of international friendlies in anticipation for next month's World Cup group-stage matches.
Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil will take viewers behind the scenes of the training process and provide a unique glimpse of what goes into building a World Cup roster.
While the initial thought of many was that the series would mimic HBO's Hard Knocks (a documentary series that goes behind the scenes of an NFL team's training camp), director Jonathan Hock was quick to erase the confusion, per The New York Times' Richard Sandomir:
I love 'Hard Knocks,' but 'Hard Knocks' is about the dying of the dream, about the ones who don’t make it. The real drama in a pro football training camp is who’s going to get cut. Otherwise, it’s tedium. We have the opposite situation. We have 100 days with elite athletes on the verge of the single biggest tournament and the energy these 23 guys, ultimately, plus the coaching staff, have to come up with in order to succeed.
The early episodes of Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil will introduce the characters and attempt to capture the hard work and the dedication required to make the 23-man roster that'll travel to Sao Paulo in June.
According to MLSSoccer.com, Klinsmann named his preliminary 30-man roster Monday, with veteran striker Eddie Johnson being the one notable player left off the list.
Klinsmann said in a statement:
We had some difficult decisions to make, and we are very excited about the 30 players coming into camp. There is competition in every position, and these next couple of weeks will allow us to make the final determinations on the best 23-man unit to represent the United States in the World Cup.
Training camp will begin Wednesday at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and continue through May 25. Two days later, the USMNT will begin its World Cup warm-up with a friendly showdown against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
|Tue, May 27||Azerbaijan||10 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Sun, June 1||Turkey||2 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Sat, June 7||Nigeria||6 p.m.||ESPN|
A day before the deadline to submit his 23-man World Cup roster, Klinsmann's squad will host Turkey at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Given that it'll be the last opportunity players will have to showcase themselves before the roster deadline, this match will carry a ton of significance.
The USMNT will wrap up preparations against fellow World Cup team Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida June 7. The final episode will air four days later before the squad heads to Brazil.
Regardless of how the Americans fare in their friendlies and which 23 players make the final World Cup roster, the USMNT's real test won't begin until June 16 when it takes on Ghana in its Group G opener.
The U.S. was bounced from the round of 16 by Ghana four years ago in South Africa and has a history of struggling in World Cup group play. Therefore, the players' preparations as well as Klinsmann's selections will be critical in turning around America's fortunes on the international stage.
Thanks to ESPN Films, viewers will have a chance to watch the pivotal process unfold.
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