By this weekend, U.S. Soccer officials should have a good handle on the important matches soon to be finalized for the final World Cup run-up.
That’s a big reason why U.S. Soccer managing director of administration Tom King is going to Brazil for this week’s World Cup draw.
Armed with schedules and calendars, one of King’s main missions this weekend will be secure friendlies that make sense ahead of departure into Brazil next June. (And probably one match in Brazil upon arrival, similar to 2010, when the team met Australia one week before opening group play of the 2010 World Cup against England.
Each of the 32 participants will have similar reps in the Brazilian state of Bahia this week. So this is the convenient spot for all teams to arrange pre-tournament prep matches. As one member of U.S. Soccer’s staff told me Monday, “there is a lot of horse trading that goes on.”
In addition to the match announced Monday (South Korea, Feb. 1), look for a match on March 5 (a FIFA date for international friendlies … so look for the United States to play in Europe). Jurgen Klinsmann will gather his team in early May and will probably want to stage two or perhaps three friendlies prior to departure.
In 2006, Bruce Arena put three in quick succession to emulate the pace of travel and games ahead of Germany 2006. Bob Bradley did something similar in 2010, but with just two matches.