Monday, May 22, 2006

The Friendly vs. Morocco

As Germany approaches, National teams around the world prepare in different ways. BBC's World Cup podcast recently reported that the Argentinian team is so unfamiliar with one another, due to youth and club players around the world, that they flew from South America to Spain last week for a meet and greet and film sessions. Not only was the coach not planning on practicing, they weren't even planning to watch film of their World Cup opponents—they watched film of their own players.

International friendlies are a key part of all national team's preparation. Organizing a pre-Sorld Cup friendly with a team like Morocco is like your older brother designing a board game that only he can win. Its a way to build confidence by kicking someone's ass, practice tactics, and maybe experiment with a new few goal celebrations. Teams around the globe schedule games with mediocre competition in order to gain chemistry, simulate tactical situations, and gel as a unit. The US won't be trying to win, per se, but they aren't trying to get beat either. They want our players to gain confidence and chemistry in a more competitive environment than camp. It is what it is, a warm-up game.

What we can expect to see tomorrow out of our friendly with Morrocco is an introduction. How will Dempsey, Gooch, Johnson, and Ching mesh with the chemistry McBride, Reyna, Beasley, Pope and Donovan, established in 2002? What might Bruce Arena be planning to do tactically? Will Keller look nimble? Has our team hit its stride or do we still need some juice to reach cruising altitude?

The World Cup is nearing. Its time to buckle-up.

Chris McAlilly


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