U.S. team plays Germany at RFK; prepares for World Cup games

The U.S. team plays Germany at a packed RFK to prepare for vital World Cup games in June. Photo: U.S. star Clint Dempsey, Associated Press

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 — June is a huge month for the U.S. national soccer team. The Americans kick off the month with an exhibition game against three-time World Cup winner Germany at RFK Stadium on Sunday, June 2, and then face three crucial World Cup qualifying games. It’s those World Cup games that are important.

The game against Germany is to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. Soccer Federation, and a crowd of 46,000 is expected. It will be a good workout for the Americans, who may have the advantage of seeing the Germans wilt in the predicted 89 degree heat.

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American coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who played for Germany (1987-1998) and then coached the national side (2004-2006), will use the match against his former team to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers at Jamaica (June 7), and home to Panama (June 11) and Honduras (June 18). Those three game could determine whether the U.S. team goes to the World Cup in Brazil next year.

“We want to give them [Germany] a good game,” Klinsmann said. “We are obviously thrilled that it’s our centennial. There’s a lot of history at RFK Stadium, which has a lot of tradition for the national team. It’s going to be a packed house, so we want to do well.”

The Americans lost 4-2 to a star-studded Belgium team on Wednesday in a friendly game at Cleveland and were clearly outplayed. The American backline looked disorganized at times but this was an amazing Belgium roster.

These exhibition games are fine to test out players and formations but the real stuff comes later in the month. Still, Klinsmann has brought in a large roster and needs to make some big decision before the World Cup games roll around. Such as: who will be leading the American attack, and what is his starting backline now that veterans Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra appear to be out of the picture?

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Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey will likely spearhead the American frontline on Sunday, although inform Eddie Johnson could get the start over Altidore who found the going difficult in the team’s loss to Belgium.

Altidore is coming off a stunning season in the Netherlands where he scored 23 league goals for AZ Alkmaar and 31 in all competitions. The 23-year-old broke the single-season record for an American in Europe that was set by Dempsey (23) last year. Altidore also became the first U.S. player to be named to the Dutch Eredivisie Team of the Year. He really needs to get playing time to prove himself to Klinsmann.

The U.S. coach will have more players available for the game against Germany. Midfielder Michael Bradley, who plays for Roma, and German-based players, defender Fabian Johnson and midfielder Danny Williams, along with Mexican-based players Joe Corona and defender Edgar Castillo, have all joined the team in D.C. So the starting lineup against Germany could look a lot different from the debacle against Belgium.

On a positive note, American veteran DaMarcus Beasley played his 100th game for the U.S. team against Belgium and looked best player in an American team jersey. Beasley is the 13th player in U.S. team history to earn 100 caps.

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Germany, arrived for the its United States tour missing its star players from Bayern Munich, Dortmund and Real Madrid, but still managed to breeze past Ecuador 4-2 with a makeshift squad in Boca Raton, Fla..

Bayern Munich stars Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Mueller, Philipp Lahm, Mario Goetze, Marco Reus, and Mats Hummels, will all be involved in the German Cup against Stuttgart this weekend.

RFK will be hosting the U.S. team for the 22nd time, more than any other venue. The team has posted a 13-3-5 record at the D.C. stadium.

The U.S. and Geramny last met in preparation match for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, when a German team coached by Klinsmann earned a 4-1 win in Dortmund.

John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.

Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email jhaydon@washingtontimes.com

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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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