The United States men’s national team will host the Czech Republic tonight in East Hartford (ESPN, 7 p.m.) in one of its final tune-up before boarding a plane for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa next month.
This game, and Saturday’s clash with Turkey in Philadelphia, will be the last chances for folks on the 30-man roster to impress coach Bob Bradley and earn one of the 23 player seats on that flight.
Judging by some of his quotes this week, Bradley may trim the roster after tonight’s game, narrowing the field of opportunity even more.
“It’s really important now to get to 23,” Bradley told reporters attending training camp. “It’s important for the group that’s going to know they’re going. The nerves that you sense at times — once the decisions are made, a little of that goes away.”
So what will we see tonight?
Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez and Brian Ching are in the mix at forward for the States, but a big game tonight from one or two of them could swing things in their favor.
Of course, you’d think that a fully healthy Ching, with his national team experience, might already be on the squad.
The defense doesn’t rest
I won’t be surprised if Oguchi Onyewu played a full 90 as he tries to develop his match fitness after a long layoff. In addition, Carlos Bocanegra (sports hernia) and Jay DeMerit (abdominal strain) are also trying to shake off injuries.
A true test?
It will be interesting to see how the Czechs react after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Turkey. Aside from grabbing a late goal, most observers agree that they were disinterested and outplayed.
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