The United States Men’s National Soccer Team began its training camp at Stanford Stadium on Wednesday in preparation for this summer’s World Cup. The team will also use Laird Q. Cagan Stadium for its practices, which are set to continue on campus through May 25th.
USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann has invited 30 players to the Farm — 21 were in attendance today — but only 23 will make the final squad that will head to Brazil. Consensus among soccer experts is that perhaps a half-dozen players are locks to make the squad; thus, the Stanford training camp figures to be a critical period for Klinsmann and his coaches as they whittle down the roster.
Shortly after the unit wraps up its stay at Stanford, it will play Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in the first of three international friendly matches it has scheduled before the World Cup. Turkey is next on June 1; after the match, Klinsmann will cut seven players and finalize the group that will travel to Brazil. After taking on Nigeria in its final tune-up on June 7, the USMNT will head south to confront the so-called “Group of Death”.
Ghana — the country that has ousted the US from the last two World Cups — will be up first for the Americans. Klinsmann’s crew will then face juggernauts and top-three FIFA-ranked teams Portugal and Germany. The tilt with the Germans figures to be particularly emotional for a few reasons: The US squad could be fighting to stay in the tournament, while Klinsmann will be facing the squad he used to play for and coach.