USMNT Preview: Team to take on South Korea has much to prove

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What will serve more as an audition than a tuneup for most of the current roster, Jurgen Klinsmann will get a bead on who he wants to bring to Brazil tomorrow.

The USMNT are set to take on the Korean Republic (South Korea) from the StubHub Center in Los Angeles tomorrow at 5pm ET.

With plenty of new faces in the camp, the result of this match is far from the most important thing, but certainly Jurgen Klinsmann will be searching for his best combination as well as position fits, and a result would follow if he can get a good overall performance.

Mike Magee will certainly be a player to watch for the US Men, with the 2013 MLS MVP one of the players with the most to prove ahead of Brazil.

Yet to earn his first cap for his country, Magee could fit into the ever-changing USMNT striker picture, but he will have to seriously impress Klinsmann in this one match, and even then it may not be enough.

Another exciting player to watch will be Mix Diskerud.  With the Norwegian youngster making a positive impression on the boss in recent months, Klinsmann will be inclined to play him this time out as the manager is surely more aware of what he’ll get from Graham Zusi and Kyle Beckerman come June.

It’s possible we also see the first caps for one or more of the brand new bunch, which includes DeAndre Yedlin, Michael Harrington, and U-20 captain Luis Gil in addition to Magee.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say what players have impressed Klinsmann throughout this closed-doors camp, but the starting lineup tomorrow may give us a bit of a guide, and we will get a peek at what the German is planning for the USMNT moving forward.

For South Korea, their national team coach Hong Myung-Bo will be returning to the StubHub center for the first time since he retired with the Galaxy in 2004.  In fact, he was a player the last time these two countries played each other.

With the two sides meeting for the first time since 2002’s crazy World Cup group stage tie, in which Hong captained his country, the focus will be less on the final score and more on what either manager has in store for the summer’s big stage.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.