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US Men’s National Team vs. New Zealand preview


Despite a horrendous playing surface, the US limped away from Havana on Friday with a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Chris Wondolowski and Julian Green. In a region notorious for poor playing surfaces, Friday’s game against Cuba took the cake with dead patches and bumps everywhere (there was also no running water in the stadium, so three cheers for Communism). Now the US has a quick turnaround as they prepare to play their second of two friendlies, this one against New Zealand.

Nobody really learned much of anything from the game against Cuba. The field was so poor that many of the US’ best players were not factors in the game. Christian Pulisic had an especially tough time of it. Wondolowski and Green were the best attacking players on the day, with each scoring a goal and assisting the other. Ethan Horvath did make a few decent saves in the first half to keep the score at 0-0. Perhaps the most interesting part of the game was a story that the commentating Ian Darke told (at the behest of color commentator Taylor Twellman) about an incident where he accidentally left his car running for three hours.

Jurgen Klinsmann made a significant number changes to the US roster over the weekend. Ethan Horvath, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Christian Pulisic, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood and the aforementioned Wondolowski were all sent back to their respective clubs. The players coming into the squad are Bill Hamid, Kellyn Acotsa, Matt Besler, Michael Orozco, Tim Parker, Juan Agudelo and Terrence Boyd. DC United defender Steve Birnbaum is still with the team, despite taking a kick to the head against Cuba that required 8 stitches (it should be noted that since the game is in DC, it makes sense to keep Birnbaum with the team). Klinsmann has said that these two friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand are chances for guys to prove their worth ahead of big World Cup Qualifiers in November against Mexico and Costa Rica.

New Zealand comes into this game having just lost a friendly against Mexico 2-1 on Saturday in Nashville, TN. Prior to that however, the All-Whites were on a seven game unbeaten run, dating back to September of 2015. This past summer they won the OFC Nations Cup by defeating Papua New Guinea on penalties in the final to secure a berth in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. New Zealand does have a few players on their roster based in the US: goalkeeper Jake Gleeson of the Portland Timbers, defender Kip Colvey of the San Jose Earthquakes and defender Sam Brotherton at the University of Wisconsin. Their captain is Winston Reid of West Ham United, with 20 caps and 1 goal in his international career.


• The US plays yet another game at RFK Stadium, the venue it has played at more than any other.

• In addition to Steve Birnbaum, Bill Hamid also plays for DC United (which plays its games at RFK Stadium)

• As of Friday October 7th, ticket sales for this game sit at an appalling 6,500 which would mean every single USMNT home friendly this year will have drawn under 10,000 fans.

When, Where
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
RFK Stadium
Washington D.C.
8pm ET / 5pm PT
Live on ESPN, UniMas, Univision Deportes, Sling Orange and fuboTV (free trial)

All-Time Series
USA leads 2-0-0

Last Meeting
City Stadium
Richmond, VA
USA 2-1 New Zealand

Current FIFA Ranking
USA: 22
New Zealand: 88

Next Game
USA vs. Mexico
Mapfre Stadium
Columbus, OH

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  1. Realest Realist

    October 11, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Per Steven Goff, they had moved 8,000 tickets overall as of yesterday afternoon.

    Sorry USMNT, we’re just not that into you…

    • Lawrence Dockery

      October 11, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Tuesday night, dump of a stadium, underwhelming opponent. Also, US Soccer price gouging people.

    • Kirby Grimes

      October 11, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      You may not be, but many are. Do I dare say “Eurosnob”?
      Friendly matches always draw small crowds and RFK is well, old it’s name should explain that part. DC United have been drawing sparse crowds lately. Wait until the Mexico match. It will sell out!

      • Lawrence Dockery

        October 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

        It is already sold out. I think there were something like 56,000 ticket requests in a venue that seats 24,000 if fire code is disregarded.

      • Realest Realist

        October 12, 2016 at 2:41 pm

        My man. Any soccer nation worthy of its name can sell out a World Cup qualifier, in a smallish venue, against its biggest international rival. But a game like last night, where only 9,000 tickets were moved, and still fewer showed up? You can trot out any of the tired excuses about the week night, the traffic, the ticket prices, the venue, the access to said venue, other things going on in town, etc etc — if the USMNT really had as many hardcore fans as they always claim, then they’d pack every venue for every “meaningless” game, and none of us here would be talking about attendance.

        Diehard fans, regardless of who they root for, always conflate their own passion for their team(s) with widespread support. Reality is that casual, fairweather fans vastly outnumber the hardcore ones. And if the attendance (and viewership) numbers for these home friendlies are any indication — especially if we compare them with the huge number of Americans who watch and/or go abroad for every World Cup — then we can easily see that most USMNT “fans” are bandwagoners who hop along for the World Cup ride every four years.

        That doesn’t make them any less different from any “developing” soccer country, of course. But I think it’s high time we put to rest this idea — sometimes perpetuated by US Soccer themselves — that the USMNT has the best fans in the world.

        The fact that the USMNT failed to draw more than 10,000 for ANY of their home friendlies this year, even in the buildup to Copa Centenario, is pretty revealing.

  2. Lawrence Dockery

    October 10, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    For some reason under When, Where, the fact that the game is on ESPN got omitted. So, remember folks, the game is also airing on ESPN.

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