June 5, 2014
A FINAL SEND-OFF
U.S. faces Nigeria before heading to Brazil
The U.S. Men's National Team and Jurgen Klinsmann have one more chance to make some major decisions before heading to Brazil when it hosts Nigeria on Saturday, June 7, at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., the last of the three-game Send-Off Series before the team departs for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
This game provides the USA with a match against a fellow World Cup participant: Nigeria is paired with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran in Group F, while the U.S. in group G with Germany, Ghana and Portugal. The U.S. is at 14 and Nigeria 44 in the latest FIFA rankings.
In previous Send-Off Series games, the U.S. defeated Turkey, 2-1, on June 1 at Red Bull Arena, with Fabian Johnson scoring his first international goal and Clint Dempsey getting the game-winner for the 37th of his career, and the USA shut out Azerbaijan, 2-0, on May 27 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco with Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson scoring.
For Klinsmann, it provides one more opportunity to reach a decision on what the first 11 will look like for the first game in Brazil, with Ghana on June 16 in Natal. It looks like he's set on the Jozy Altidore-Clint Dempsey pairing up front, with Michael Bradley, Brad Davis, Jermaine Jones and Graham Zusi in midfield.
It's the defense which is still undergoing changes. Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler started the first two Send-Off games, with Tim Chandler and DaMarcus Beasley splitting the other spot on the backline. DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks, both with limited international experience, and Omar Gonzalez came on as subs; Yedlin did not play a full half in either game.
Dempsey played the full 90 minutes against Turkey, so he appears to be clear of the groin injury which kept him out of the Azerbaijani game. His goal against Turkey marked the 10th consecutive year in which he's scored at least once in international competition.
Nigeria's most recent game was a 2-2 tie with Scotland on May 28 at Craven Cottage in London. The goals were scored by Michael Uchebo and Uche Nwofor. It' first game in Brazil will be with Iran on June 16 in Curitiba.
The USA will depart for Brazil and its training base in Sao Paulo after the game.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision and ESPN Deportes Radio, and can also be followed live on Twitter @ussoccer.