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USA vs. Venezuela preview, TV times and team news

June is an extremely critical month for the USMNT. Bruce Arena has come in for his second stint as manager and settled things down after a disastrous start to World Cup Qualifying that resulted in the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann. Arena got a win and a draw in the January Camp and managed to grab four out of a possible six points in the last two World Cup Qualifiers to move the US out of last place in the Hex. This month sees the resumption of World Cup Qualifying with a home tilt against Trinidad & Tobago before a trip south of the border to take on Mexico at Azteca. But before those happen, there is a chance to iron out any kinks and get into a rhythm with a friendly against Venezuela.

The US roster for these three upcoming games was released on Sunday and there are next to no surprises on it. Everybody that should be there, is there. In fact, Tim Howard said that based on this roster the experimentation phase under Arena is over and that it’s time to get down to business. What should delight most fans is this is the first time under Arena that all of the European based players are readily available (which was not the case in March due to a sudden rash of injuries). On the backline, Geoff Cameron, DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks have all been called in (Brooks is fresh off signing a deal to move from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg next season). In the midfield Fabian Johnson is fit and available as is 18 year old superstar Christian Pulisic and up top Bobby Wood returns to the US camp. And of course all the MLS stalwarts are present and accounted for, including Tim Howard, DaMarcus Beasley, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya, Darlington Nagbe, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. The only really surprising inclusion is that of Dax McCarty who at the age of 30 has only six caps to his name.

Fans and journalists always seem to feel the need to debate the importance of friendlies but it’s hard to argue that this game against Venezuela is totally meaningless (though that argument can take center stage should the US do poorly). It’s a chance to re-energize the fan base and figure out who should play where when the two big qualifiers fire up. It’s a chance for fringe players to step up and seize an opportunity to show that they deserve to continue to be called in. Most importantly, this game and the next qualifier are being played at a high altitude to better prepare the US for the trip to Mexico City.

Venezuela comes into this game having won just one of their last ten games dating back to the Copa America Centenario last summer (during which they made a surprise run to the quarter-finals). Since then however, it’s been all downhill. They currently sit last in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying with just six points from fourteen games and have been eliminated from qualifying for Russia 2018 (as has Bolivia). Players to watch are 20 year old Jefferson Savarino of Real Salt Lake who earns his first call up, and forward Salomon Rondon of West Bromwich Albion who has 19 goals in 59 appearances for Venezuela.

Notes:

• Clint Dempsey sits just one goal behind Landon Donovan’s all-time US scoring record (Dempsey has 56, Donovan had 57).

• There is a vast experience gap between these two teams as the US roster features nine players with 50 or more caps while Venezuela has only two players with 50 or more caps.

• Following the game against the US, Venezuela has one more game Stateside (a friendly against Ecuador in Boca Raton).

When and where to find the game on US TV and streaming

Saturday, June 3, 2017
Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT
10pm ET
FS1, UniMas
FOX Soccer 2GO, Sling Blue, fubo Premier and DIRECTV NOW (free 7-day trial)

All-Time Series

USA leads 3-0-1

Last Meeting

1/21/12
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
USA 1, Venezuela 0

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 23
Venezuela: 58

Next Game

Thursday, June 8
World Cup Qualifying
USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Commerce City, CO

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