The quick turnaround between games at the youth tournaments means the US has a quick chance at retribution after Monday night's loss to Spain. That loss was disappointing, and Thursday's game will go a long way towards showing how much it has affected the American psyche for the rest of the tournament.
Malawi is a ready-made opponent for an occasion like this. The Africans are by no means pushovers, and will be primed to play in the afternoon heat, which they seemed to particularly enjoy in their first match versus the United Arab Emirates on Monday.
I haven't posted in the last few days since it has been almost impossible to access internet here in Nigeria. As much as I'd like to say all the fears of organizational disaster in Nigeria were overblown, it seems they were instead well founded. Sufficed to say I'm really feeling Chinua Achebe right now.
I didn't experience the disarray of the opening matches in Abuja. Though I was in attendance I had no work to do, so I escaped unscathed though my fellow journalists were not pleased at all with the media center. FIFA usually has a nice office for journalists to work with internet connections, whereas here we are lucky if the media center even has power at any given time.
US Soccer will play Slovakia on November 14th according to a release from the Slovak Football Association, as both teams begin preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa next summer.
The game will take place four days prior to the previously announced engagement with Denmark in Aarhus at NRGi Park. The Danes are another team that have qualified for the World Cup in South Africa, after topping a European qualifying group consisting of traditional qualifiers Portugal and Sweden.
Recent press reports have been stated that Bob Bradley has been in contact with Leeds United's Bradley Johnson. The young midfielder is having a fine season, having scored six goals from just twelve starts in League One.
I spoke with Johnson, and while he confirmed that he has had contact from the coach and that the US brass has been impressed, there is a potential stumbling block that stands in the way of him playing for the US - he's simply not American.
With just days to American kickoff in Kano, YA has arrived in Nigeria, and as usual, we'll be bringing you the best coverage available of the U-17 run here in Sub-Saharan Africa. Let's hope it lasts longer than the U-20's turn at the World Cup did.
Of course, the chances of that are excellent based just on the group the Americans find themselves in. With Malawi and the UAE (though they could surprise) in the foursome, the US should be able to manage the four points they need for a round of 16 berth.
I'll go ahead and right away offer my apologies to Bob, Benny and the boys.
Having just wrapped up a berth in South Africa next summer, Bob Bradley and US Soccer were quick to schedule the first in what will be a long series of pre-World Cup friendly games. Starting with the November 18 game against Denmark in Aarhus, they will dedicate the next six months to tuning up, sizing up, whittling down and finally sharpening up the 23 faces which will board the plane to South Africa next summer.
Jonathan Bornstein just earned himself a thank-you note.
Throughout his career, it seems Carlos Pavon has done everything he can to keep Honduras out of the World Cup. If you are reading this entry then there's likely no need to recap his latest efforts from Saturday night since you've probably watched them on youtube again and again....and again.
It's easy and understandable to forget that today is a game day for the USMNT - one that would have been a celebration of a tough qualifying campaign which ended in success in Honduras over the weekend.
Of course the events early Tuesday morning cast a pall over any positive emotions as the realities of life remind us once again that sport is valuable for entertainment purposes only, and there are much more important things than a result on the soccer field.
The US did themselves a huge favor by taking all three points in Honduras and avoiding any last day scenario that could have seen them in a all-or-nothing playoff against what is certain to be a good South American team. Honduras and Costa Rica's hides are now on the line instead, meaning Coach Bob Bradley has some decisions to make regarding his lineup for Wednesday night's final hexagonal match-up in Washington DC, which is still meaningful - just not for the Americans.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a lineup for this final match, and my guess is Bradley will err on the side of caution when deciding who to run out.
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