U.S. heads to World Cup with players struggling for game time
NEW YORK – It’s the summer of 2017, and U.S. men’s national team players are beginning to feel their way through qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. They’ve been to Qatar, Spain and even China, but now they’re on the move again, this time in preparation for the World Cup in Russia.
The U.S. is in the midst of a four-match swing through Europe, before returning to face Germany in its final Group G game at Red Bull Arena on Aug. 15. They start against Portugal at the same venue on Aug. 28, at the end of the U.S.’s final match in Africa.
“It’s been a great experience,” defender Matt Besler said. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, in some ways having to move around quite a bit. I would say the guys are really pumped about what’s going on and how they’re going about it. It’s a great thing for us to have a break from playing together every now and then to kind of really come together and be ready to go as soon as possible, and get ready for the World Cup. Being able to have some time with the team, and with the guys, and just relax and enjoy our time together.
“It’s really nice to just kind of go out and have some fun.”
The move means that the U.S. has won a pair of qualifying friendlies in Africa, but now they’re heading to Russia with only three players making the trip to Europe’s other qualifying group – Spain, Portugal and Ukraine.
“We’ve got some really, really talented teams in Europe this year, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience,” Besler said. “I’ve got a good feeling for going through qualifying, and looking at the talent there and what they have in the tournament. It’s going to be a great tournament.”
The U.S.’s roster is full of players who