The U.S. national team will begin 2016 with a pair of friendlies, against Iceland (Jan. 31) and Canada (Feb. 5), at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., following the conclusion of the program’s annual January camp, U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday.
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With the 2016 Copa America Centenario looming in the summer of 2016, as well as World Cup qualifying resuming in March, the 2016 January camp could perhaps be made up of mostly established first-teamers currently plying their trade in MLS, with less of an eye toward youngsters attempting to break into the national team program, as the latter is usually the case.
Given that Iceland’s top division league, where many of the national team’s players play their club soccer, runs from May to October every year, we might actually see an Iceland side close to full-strength with the 2016 European Championship just five months away. In the past, January camp opponents, like Chile in 2015, were without many of their best players who play in August-to-May leagues in Europe.
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, on Iceland — quotes from U.S. Soccer release:
“Iceland is one of the up-and-coming soccer nations in Europe. They have been really impressive in qualifying for the European Championship for the first time, and they have earned huge compliments for their youth player development. Their players are now spread across the big leagues in Europe.”
Canada, meanwhile, will be in very much the same boat as the USMNT, with the resumption of World Cup qualifying just a month away.
Klinsmann, on Canada:
“As we know from our past meetings, Canada is a difficult opponent that is not easy to break down. It’s a good experience to play against them, particularly for some of our younger players. They started off on the right foot in World Cup qualifying, having won at home and picking up a point on the road in El Salvador, so this will be a good challenge.”