The United States men's national team will get their 2016 calendar underway with a friendly meeting against Iceland on Sunday, with the European side travelling to the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Jurgen Klinsmann's Stars and Stripes have been in training camp this month after the 2015 Major League Soccer season came to a close in December, with their preparations ready to pick up once again.
Iceland have all the more reason to treat Sunday's clash with a sense of urgency, with just over four months remaining until they travel to France for UEFA Euro 2016, their first-ever major tournament finals.
Read on for preview of Sunday's tie, including team news and all the vital viewing information to make sure you don't miss a minute of the west coast encounter.
Date: Sunday, January 31
Time: 8:45 p.m. GMT/3:45 p.m. ET
Venue: StubHub Center, Carson, California
TV Info: ESPN 2 (US), Univision Deportes (US)
Klinsmann in Need of Confidence Boost
Although the United States are unbeaten in their last two outings, the most recent of those was a disappointing 0-0 stalemate in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying trip to Trinidad and Tobago last November.
The Stars and Stripes have been struggling to recapture their best form under Klinsmann of late. Aside from a 6-1 throttling of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in November and a comeback win against Peru two months prior to that, it's largely been uncomfortable viewing for USMNT fans.
A record of five losses in their last eight games may lead some to believe the problems lie in squad selection, or at least that was the opinion of Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber.
According to MLS.com writer Scott French, Feilhaber—who earned just three international call-ups since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as United States coach in 2011—said the USA manager is too set in his ways:
Scott French @ScottJFrench
Some of the highlights from Benny Feilhaber's epic "long rant," as he termed it, about Jurgen Klinsmann and the USNT selections coming now.1/20/2016, 10:07:36 AM
Scott French @ScottJFrench
Feilhaber: Klinsmann's player selections are "not based on on-field performance. Idk what it's based on, but it's not on-field performance."1/20/2016, 10:14:37 AM
One of those veteran figures Feilhaber might claim has been afforded too many opportunities in the national team is Jermaine Jones, who remains in the squad despite recently receiving a six-game MLS ban for touching a referee.
That being said, Klinsmann's squad for the Iceland fixture is full of young, aspiring talent, including no fewer than 10 uncapped starlets, including FC Dallas' Kellyn Acosta, 20, and New York City FC sensation Khiry Shelton, 22.
No 'Friendlies' in Sight for Iceland
Officially speaking, there's nothing on the line for Iceland this weekend, but one can bet their players will be treating Sunday's outing as a distinct chance to impress joint-managers Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson.
After coming through Euro 2016 qualifying second to the Czech Republic in Group A, Iceland now have a brief window in which to both test new talent and hand their veterans some needed time in the national team.
Among those looking to make a big impact is Real Oviedo right-back Diego Johannesson, whose maiden call-up for the national side was celebrated by Oviedo fan account Cult of RO:
Cult of RO @RuudResistor
Unreal!!! #RealOviedo Johanesson called up by Iceland ahead of Iceland vs USA friendly #EnhorabuenaJohanesson https://t.co/VlRhzhceOb1/25/2016, 12:54:14 PM
Tempered by the experience of seasoned stars such as Eidur Gudjohnsen and Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Lagerback and Hallgrimsson may feel at ease about their chances in Carson.
That being said, a record of just one win and three losses since Euro 2016 qualification also doesn't make for great reading, and two out-of-shape teams will look to rediscover some much-needed form come Sunday.
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