Wednesday, July 26, 2006

USMNT 2006 Friendly Schedule??

Based on how well the USA did in the World Cup in Germany, and the fact that we will be faced with a passing of the torch when it comes to the USA players, we need to start thinking right now about the future. What would be better for the future than to start scheduling out the rest of the 2006 calendar year with friendly matches to get more guys into the player pool. We are going to need to get new guys some caps in order to get them ready for the 2007 Gold Cup as well as South Africa.

I would like to see 6 matches scheduled for the remainder of the year. They would be 1 home match and 5 away matches. A schedule like this will allow for the USSF to start getting new people into the USA jersey and get some opponents to run us through the motions of international play.

This is what I envision USSF scheduling to finish out 2006

August 16, 2006 – vs. Paraguay, in Miami, FL (All MLS Squad)
September 2, 2006 – vs. Demark, in Copenhagen, DM (All Euro Based Squad)
September 6, 2006 – vs. Sweden, in Stockholm, SW (All Euro Based Squad)
October 7, 2006 – vs. Ivory Coast, in K-Town, Germany (Mixed MLS/Euro Squad)
October 11, 2006 – vs. Switzerland, in Genève, CH (All Euro Based Squad)
November 15, 2006 – vs. England, in London, UK (Mixed MLS/Euro Squad)

The home match against Paraguay gives us a match in a hot/humid area with a South American opponent that will most likely get more fans that show up than we will. It should only include MLS players as the Euro based players will be restarting their seasons abroad and we need them to stay there. Paraguay qualified for the 2006 World Cup and they fit the requirement that we start playing more teams that are not CONCACAF nations.

The Denmark and Sweden matches are close enough that the travel involved for the team is not a problem and they are against Euro sides, one that qualified for the 2nd round this WC. Using an all Euro based squad gives the Michael Bradely's and DeMerit's and Califf's a chance to get the USA jersey on as well as get Howard two international starts. All we would really have to send over is the coaching staff; the players are already in Europe.

The other two matches, Ivory Coast and Switzerland. The Ivory Coast match would be a great experience, since we fail to really play the African nations and as most Ivory Coast players play in Europe, why not schedule another match like the Poland match? Having the match at K-Town would be just like the Poland match, a heavily favored US attendance match. Ramstein AFB is right down the road, so you have a built in fan base. Switzerland will be a good match as they are a young squad and will be in search of opponents for Euro 2008 training, as they do not need to qualify. With the Swiss not needing to qualify, they will need to schedule as many friendly’s as possible and will take the matches seriously.

The final match of the year would be against England at Wembley Stadium. Use a mixed MLS and Euro based squad. MLS finishes their season 3 days before, but more than enough MLS players would have been finished well over a week before and could have been in camp for practice already. A match against an England squad that might be facing a situation where a lot of their regulars are starting to get passed over for new players and a side with a new coach who is still trying to figure out what his team is made of, this would be a very good match to set up.

The biggest thing about the dates in Europe is that the players will already have been released from their clubs, as FIFA mandates their release. We might as well start using them and get them quality matches in the one part of the world that we seem to always look bad. Play more matches in Europe and get our moxie back.

If we wait until January to start getting the USMNT back on track, I think that we will lose a lot of momentum. Yes we did poorly in Germany, but the US sports fans were snagged. If you want to keep them, then you need to give them more matches to watch. Again, we also need to start the replacement process of getting the new guys in to fill the spots of the guys who retired after 2006. If we continue to wait until January, we waste 5 to 6 months that we could be using. Time management must be a priority here.

Of course this is all a moot point until the USSF gets a coach. Waiting for Jurgen might be a mistake.


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