U.S. Soccer today officially announced that the U.S. Men’s National Team will play three matches prior to the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The matches will be part of the Send-Off Series.
The USMNT will play in San Francisco, New Jersey, and Jacksonville as Jürgen Klinsmann and his squad put the final tweaks prior to the start of the World Cup.
The Send-Off Series will be in a similar timeline as the one the team will encounter in Brazil, as the USMNT will play three matches in 12 days. The U.S. will face Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Nigeria.
The Series will begin on May 27 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco and then will move to Red Bull Arena on June 1, and will conclude at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 7.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the schedule we have put together for the Send-Off Series,” said Klinsmann. “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.”
Nigeria is the only one of those three teams that has qualified for World Cup 2014. Turkey, a World Cup 2002 semifinalist, finished fourth in its UEFA qualifying group behind the Netherlands, Romania and Hungary. Azerbaijan finished fourth in its UEFA group behind Russia, Portugal and Israel.
After a disappointing loss to Ukraine yesterday, the United States will need to get their act together in the friendly versus Mexico on April 2.
Many called the back-line used versus Ukraine as the “B Team”, but if that’s the best the United States can do when it comes to depth, they will have bigger issues once they begin the World Cup.
With the new MLS season kicking off on Saturday, Klinsmann spared many of his first team regulars and named a largely European-based roster for the fixture in Cyprus. As a result, the US turned in a disjointed and disappointing performance against a strong Ukrainian side.
“Definitely,” the USMNT head coach replied when asked if his roster was impacted by the lack of MLS-based players. “When you don’t have your main group together, there’s always going to be a bit of a drop of quality. That’s natural. That’s why our job is to zoom in and name 23 guys who are up to the task of the World Cup.”
With first-choice center-back pairing Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez missing, Klinsmann experimented with Oguchi Onyewu and John Brooks in the heart of defense.
“We had to form a couple of new things with this group, starting with a backline that had never really played together, and you could see that in our play,” said Klinsmann, admitting that the experiment ultimately failed.
Expect Klinsmann and the rest of the USMNT to be ready for the matchup versus Mexico in Arizona in April with a solid back-line and all.