Settle down Yanks fans. The next chapter of the U.S.-Mexico rivalry quickly dissolved when a battle over television rights reared its ugly head. Univision and Telemundo, both broadcasting solely in Spanish, refused to back down and the match never materialized. As expected, I was eagerly anticipating the game, even if I did have to suffer through it without understanding the announcers. Plus, last summer’s 5-0 beat down still makes me shudder.
But as a quick substitute, U.S. Soccer hastily scheduled a friendly contest with another recognizable CONCACAF opponent in El Salvador for February 24. I generally try not to get too worked up with friendlies, but COME ON! El Salvador? I’m predicting a less than motivated performance from this country, especially given the fact that they recently failed to qualify for their seventh straight World Cup.
I appreciate the importance of international friendlies in allowing fringe players a chance to shine and to further develop the team’s depth. I do not understand why U.S. Soccer continues to settle on weak and familiar competition in preparation for the world’s biggest tournament. Although the U.S. appears to have a comfortable fix on the winter environment in South Africa with the Confederations Cup last summer, the group must be unfamiliar with the varying aspect of play that differs greatly from the North American and Caribbean regions, especially for members who play domestically in the MLS. Slovakia and Denmark without question dominated the Yanks, but at least the friendly raised red flags where they can improve. If the squad didn’t already have a trip booked to the Netherlands a week and change later, I would be pissed.
Overall, if these pre World Cup matches played out as a video game, Bob Bradley ensured that distinct difficulty levels be implemented: El Salvador (Amateur) Honduras (Semi-Pro) Netherlands (World-Class). And who knows what skill level the U.S. will play at.
Hopefully a Beckerman, a Pontius, or perhaps even a Cunningham will shine at training camp and these upcoming games.