The United States and Canada will step up their preparations for important tests ahead when squaring off in a friendly international on Friday night in Carson, California.
In the first of two friendly matches at the climax of its annual camp in southern California, the U.S. twice came from behind to beat Iceland on Sunday. Klinsmann started with the most experienced team available to him, with U.S. men’s national team veterans Matt Besler, Brad Evans, Michael Bradley, Jermain Jones and Jozy Altidore all starting against what was an Iceland team devoid of most of the players who will make the trip to Euro 2016 this summer.
Still, there were four players who made their senior international bows. Columbus Crew duo Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani were joined by FC Dallas defender Kellyn Acosta and Stuttgart forward Jerome Kieswetter. Meanwhile, D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum netted a 90th minute winner in just his second appearance for the U.S.
Klinsmann has made it clear that the camp and the games have dual goals of preparing the senior team for a World Cup qualifying double-header against Guatemala next month as well as the Under-23 side’s Olympic qualifying playoff with Colombia. And that is set to continue against Canada.
“In looking at the Canada game, we will have a similar approach we had with Iceland because we have two big objectives now," Klinsmann told US Soccer. “[One is] getting the older or established players into a rhythm, into a good start in 2016 because we're just a couple weeks away from end of March games and World Cup qualifying. The other part is to use substitutions for players that you want to see and give them a taste of the senior team level.”
There will be at least two changes to the starting lineup, however. Center-back Michael Orozco has returned to Tijuana, honoring an agreement with the Mexican club, while Evans has departed the squad after feeling tightness in his hamstring. Whoever starts in their place, Klinsmann has stated that he wants to see a better performance from his defense, which afforded Iceland plenty of chances last time out.
Besides the desire to get one over on its neighbors to the south, Canada will have plenty of motivation to put in a strong performance on Friday. Looking to make its first World Cup since 1986, Canada has made a positive start to the penultimate round of qualifying, beating Honduras at home and taking a point from El Salvador on the road. However, it now faces a tough double-header with Mexico next month.
“Every day and every camp, for us, it is preparation for the next official game in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers,” head coach Benito Floro said. “For our players, we want them to play well and to do the things to win the game, to develop those ideal situations.”
For Spaniard Floro, a former Real Madrid manager who assumed his current role in 2013, it will be his first experience of a match with rivals the United States. The last two contests between the sides, in 2013 and 2012, finished goalless.
Match time: 10:15 p.m. EST
TV channel: Fox Sports 1, Univision Deports, UniMás (TSN in Canada)