Just 92 days before the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team only has four games to prepare for their hostile group stage games.
The U.S. Men’s National team will play a familiar Mexico squad on April 2 before making their final 23-man roster. After this cut, the Americans will play their three-game send-off series. Coach Jürgen Klinsmann has prepared these three games in 12 days, which is a similar timeline to their three games in 11 days in their group stage of the World Cup.
The USMNT will play their first of three send-off matches against Azerbaijan in San Francisco on May 27. According to the FIFA world rankings, Azerbaijan is currently ranked 93 in the world and did not qualify for the World Cup. Is this a good match for the Americans before the World Cup? No. The Americans should be playing higher quality teams to get ready for their harsh group stage games. Azerbaijan is not going to challenge the American’s back line like Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal will. If anything, this should be any easy win for the U.S. and a confidence booster going into Brazil.
For their second game, the Americans will face Turkey in New Jersey on June 1. This Turkish team is currently ranked 42 in the world and also did not qualify for the World Cup. This is a higher quality team the Americans will be up against, but still nowhere near as competitive or fast as Ghana, Portugal, or Germany. Turkey has nothing to lose in this game so they will work hard and bring energy throughout the game. The Americans should dominate up front with the duo of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. The combination of speed, strength, and footwork should benefit the Americans with a win over Turkey.
The final game before heading off to Brazil is against Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida on June 7. Nigeria is ranked 47 in the world and will be competing in the 2014 World Cup. They are one of the top teams in Africa and can give the Americans a good test of what they will see in Brazil. The Nigerian team is a possession-based squad and is coming off an impressive draw against Mexico. They are similar to Germany in that they keep the ball moving and have big bodies that can dominate in the air. They have talent in the midfield along with strength and speed up top, which should prepare the Americans for the World Cup.
The three-game send-off series will not get the Americans ready for the uphill climb they have to face in the World Cup. The Americans should be playing top ranked teams to gain experience and learn how to beat the top teams in the world in order to move passed the group stage.