France-USA match preview: Young squad faces huge test

The series of friendlies that the USMNT is playing before the start of the World Cup got off to a flying start with a resounding 3-0 win over Bolivia on Memorial Day. The opposition then got more difficult against Ireland and the US fell 2-1 on a last minute winner. Now comes the toughest of the three games against a team that many experts are picking to have a very deep run during this World Cup. That team is France.

While the US did not look great against Ireland (they lost obviously) they didn’t look completely overmatched, despite interim manager Dave Sarachan rolling out another youthful lineup. The US even took the lead just before halftime through Bobby Wood. But the wheels started to come off in the second half. Bill Hamid had another game to forget in Dublin (Aviva Stadium seems to be something of a house of horrors for him, giving up four goals against Ireland in 2014 and two this time around) as it was his error that led to Ireland’s equalizer ten minutes after the restart. But the US still managed to eke out a few half chances and put a modicum of pressure on the Irish and for a minute it looked like they would be able to salvage a respectable 1-1 draw before Alan Judge scored the winner in the 90th minute for the Irish.

On the downside, the US lost and that’s not something that can continue to happen if the US wants to be respected on the international stage, and even by their own fans again. On the plus side, it was just a friendly (that probably meant even less than your average friendly) and the US didn’t look awful, but simply got beat. However, as was the case from the Bolivia game to the Ireland game, the competition level for the next friendly goes up a notch as the US now has to play a team that is one of the best in the world and is being tipped to possibly win the World Cup this summer; France.

Quite simply, this France team is ridiculous. There is so much talent on this roster, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches. One just has to look at some of the names left off the 23 man World Cup roster to know how hard of a team it is to get into. Guys like Dimitri Payet, Anthony Matrial and Laurent Koscielny are all staying at home. But the players that manager Didier Deschamps is taking are super talented in their own right. Up top it’s Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann leading the charge, while in the midfield Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante will be counted on to influence the game. At the back Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti and Adil Rami should be able to snuff out any dangerous attacks and in goal is the always dependable (save for one hilariously disastrous mistake in World Cup Qualifying against Sweden) Hugo Lloris. Results for Les Blues have been good as well lately going back several years. France was runner-up as the hosts of Euro 2016 and then breezed through qualifying to top their group and get to Russia. In preparation for their World Cup this game against the US will be their third and final friendly: they beat Ireland 2-0 and May 28th and eased past Italy 3-1 on June 1st. Additionally, they got a taste of what it’s like to play in Russia when they played the hosts in St. Petersburg back in March (and beat them 3-1).

Notes:
1. US midfielder Kenny Saeif was sent home from camp on Wednesday with an injury. He was not replaced on the roster.
2. This game will be France’s first at the new stadium in Lyon.
3. The schedule for the rest of the year following the game against France for the USMNT looks like this: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, England, Italy.

When and where to watch the game on TV/streaming
Saturday, June 9, 2018
Groupama Stadium
Lyon, France
3pm ET
Live on ESPN, UniMas, Univision Deportes, ESPN3, DIRECTV NOW and Sling Orange (7-day free trial)

All-Time Series
USA trails 0-3-0

Last Meeting
November 11, 2011
Stade de France
Paris, France
France 1-0 USA

Current FIFA Ranking
France: 7
USA: 24

Next Game
September 7, 2018
International Friendly
USA vs. Brazil
MetLife Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

 

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