On May 25th the USMNT will continue to challenge itself by facing the Czech Republic in a pre-World Cup schedule that now has a catchy name (so you know it must be good) – The Send-Off Series. Furthermore, it’s rumored that the series has one more fixture yet to be scheduled, possibly against the Republic of Ireland. Now that would be one hard-nosed match. Can you imagine how pumped Michael Bradley would be for that 90 minute fist-fight? But that game isn’t set in stone, so I digress.
Either way, the Bobbo strategy of playing against Europe’s NIT All-Stars (excluding Netherlands, they’re an NCAA one seed) prior to the World Cup is a good one. Europe is so deep with quality soccer playing nations that good teams are bound to miss out on the big show every year. These teams are on par with a lot of squads in the WC, and even better than some of them. So why not test-drive CONCACAF’s top qualifiers against teams like Turkey, Czech Republic, and maybe even Ireland? The fact that U.S. Soccer is seizing the opportunity to play these matches rather than making excuses based on scheduling conflicts and risk of injury or revealing too much of our World Cup game plan is a big step. I’ll gladly write another Bobbo pat-on-the-back-post if we do get that Ireland match scheduled.
It’s also significant to note that each team we’ve scheduled plays a different style and will provide the team with a vastly contrasting set of challenges to figure out how to deal with. The Czech’s play a balanced style that isn’t quite as easy on the eye as Holland’s or as hustle-intensive as Turkey’s. Their attack has dwindled a bit since 2006 because apparently Pavel Nedved and Jan Koller had to get old. But the likes of Baros, Rosicky, Sverkos, and of course Special Ed himself, Petr Cech still populate the lineup, meaning they’re dangerous no matter how long they’ve seemingly been lying dormant.
It should be an evenly matched game, and hopefully one in which Tim Howard outperforms Cech… I hate that helmet-wearing jackleg.
No venue set for the match yet, hopefully they decide on my backyard; we’ve got a fire-pit out there!
Jon Levy is a senior writer and managing editor for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.