Summer is almost upon us, which means that it’s almost time for the Copa America Centenario, the biggest soccer tournament to be played in the United States since the 1994 World Cup. But before it kicks off, the US will play a series of warmup games to get into shape for a tough group of Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay. The first of the three warmup games is a road game at Puerto Rico.
The game against Puerto Rico was a late addition to the schedule. Jurgen Klinsmann’s idea for the game is to use it as sort of a transition camp to keep the European and Mexican based players in shape (as their seasons, for the most part, have just finished). Any MLS players that he wants to use for the Copa America will be unavailable until the team meets up in Dallas on Monday. And to clarify, some of the players on this roster will not be used for the Copa America as some of them were not on the mandated preliminary 40 man roster (which must be cut down to 23 by Sunday) while some of the players not on this roster will be in contention for Copa America spots.
Speaking of the roster, there are a lot of familiar faces on it that are more than likely shoe ins for the Copa America, while there are also some players that haven’t been called up in some time and some players getting their first call ups. Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Alejandro Bedoya, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson and Booby Wood all have plenty of international experience with the US. Julian Green returns to the US camp for the first time since November of 2014 while Eric Lichaj is back for the first time since November of 2013 (this is only the second time Klinsmann has called Lichaj up). New faces include the Club Tijuana duo of Paul Arriola and Amando Moreno along with Fafa Picault who has turned some heads playing for FC St. Pauli in the 2 Bundesliga in Germany.
Puerto Rico is a team that does not play a ton of games. They played only four times in 2015 (though they also played a friendly against MLS side NYCFC, which they lost) and have played just twice so far this year (a pair of Caribbean Cup qualifiers against Anguilla and Guyana). As a team they’ve won just twice in their last nine games dating back to September of 2014. They failed to progress past their first round of World Cup qualification, falling in two legs to Grenada. The manager is Jack Stefanowski who is a graduate of NYU and has previously served as the head coach of the Nepal national team, as well as being an assistant for the Puerto Rico Islanders squad that reached the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals in 2009. The Puerto Rico roster includes six players who play at US colleges along with Manolo Sanchez of San Antonio FC and Jeremy Hall of the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
• Five of the players on the US roster have never been capped: Zack Steffen, Caleb Stanko, Paul Arriola, Amando Moreno and Fafa Picault.
• Of the 22 players going to Puerto Rico, seven are not eligible for the Copa Amerca: Julian Green, Emerson Hyndman, Fafa Picault, Paul Arriola, Caleb Stanko, Zack Steffen, and Amando Moreno.
• There is some speculation that this game was added to help boost interest in the new club side Puerto Rico FC which begins play in the NASL this fall.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel
Current FIFA Ranking
Puerto Rico: 152
Next Game Up
USA vs. Ecuador
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