US soc­cer team awaits tune­ups against Cuba, New Zealand

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

For U.S. coach Jur­gen Klins­mann, it's all about one thing: Mex­ico.

His team is train­ing at Barry Univer­sity, with two tuneup games com­ing up. The first is against Cuba in Ha­vana on Fri­day, the first game for the U.S. on the is­land since 1947. The next is against New Zealand to­day in Wash­ing­ton.

"The big­ger pic­ture be­hind these 10 days is clear — it's pre­par­ing for Mex­ico on Nov.em­ber 11," Klins­mann said.

That game — in Colum­bus, Ohio — is the first match for both teams of the fi­nal round of CONCACAF qual­i­fy­ing for the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia. The U.S. plays Costa Rica fol­lows four days later.

A num­ber of young play­ers will get their chance in the two tuneup games.

"We want to see them tak­ing the ini­tia­tive," Klins­mann said. "We want them to come in here and make a very strong im­pres­sion. I think a good ex­am­ple is Sacha Kl­jes­tan. In the last two World Cup qual­i­fy­ing games we told Sasha, 'Lis­ten this is your op­por­tu­nity, but you've got to take it.' You've got to come in and make an im­pres­sion and he did that in both games. A sim­i­lar mes­sage to Danny Wil­liams and other play­ers. The door is al­ways open."

Veteran goal­keep­ers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are not on the 23-man ros­ter, giv­ing David Bing­ham, Ethan Hor­vath and Wil­liam Yar­brough a chance to show what they can do.

"It's our job to bring along the next wave of goal­keep­ers and try to give them op­por­tu­ni­ties," Klins­mann said. "The only way they can go grow is if you let them play."

Chris­tian Pulisic, a promis­ing 18-year-old mid­fielder, has been play­ing well with the U.S. and the Ger­man club Borus­sia Dort­mund.

"He's a good young player," cap­tain Michael Bradley said. "He's smart in terms of mak­ing the right de­ci­sions and be­ing a guy who knows the game and un­der­stands when he can maybe try a lit­tle bit more and when he needs to be more sim­ple. I think he con­tin­ues to show he's go­ing in the right di­rec­tion."

De­fend­ers Ge­off Cameron and Fabian John­son and for­ward Jor­dan Mor­ris worked out but did not prac­tice. Mid­fielder Ale­jan­dro Be­doya is out with a strained rib mus­cle.

The team will train Wed­nes­day be­fore head­ing to Cuba the next day.

Bo­livia play­ers train­ing in La Paz yes­ter­day

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