U.S. Men's National Team
U.S. Soccer Looks North for First Two Games of 2016
December 15, 2015
U.S. SOCCER TODAY ANNOUNCED that the men’s national team will open its busy 2016 campaign with a pair of friendlies against Iceland and Canada at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The two games will conclude the annual January camp, which opens in Carson on Jan. 4.
The Jan. 31 game against Iceland will give the U.S. team an interesting opportunity to take on one of the world’s most surprising national teams. With a population of just around 330,000, it nonetheless qualified for the European Championships after coming in second in Group A, ahead of the World Cup semifinalist Netherlands.
The United States and Iceland have not played each other in more than 20 years, but that’s not to say they haven’t clashed: In 2013, Aron Johannsson famously drew the ire of Icelandic Federation President Geir Thorsteinsson when he elected to leave Iceland’s program and switch to the United States.
“Iceland is one of the up-and-coming soccer nations in Europe," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a statement. "They have been really impressive in qualifying for the European Championship for the first time and they have earned huge compliments for their youth player development. Their players are now spread across the big leagues in Europe."
It is unclear, however, which players will be available for Iceland next month given the fact that the game is outside any FIFA international windows.
After that match, the Americans will remain in California and face northern neighbor Canada on Feb. 5. The longtime rivals have met 32 times since 1925, with the U.S. unbeaten in the matchup for the past 35 years.
“As we know from our past meetings, Canada is a difficult opponent and [one] that is not easy to break down,” Klinsmann said. “It's a good experience to play against them, particularly for some of our younger players. They started off on the right foot in World Cup qualifying, having won at home and picking up a point on the road in El Salvador, so this will be a good challenge."
This year’s January camp appears to be more important than in years past, considering both the U.S. program’s struggles in 2015 and also what lies ahead, with the Copa America Centenario slated for this coming summer.
Los Angeles Galaxy forward/winger Gyasi Zardes was the only new player to fully work himself into the national team through the 2015 January camp. Following the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico in October, Klinsmann said that he was going to look to bring new players into the team; January camp offers an opportunity to do so.
ASN has been told that this year’s January camp will feature around 27 players and will include a few top U-23 players. There will be no January U-23 camp as a result.
U-23 players likely to be in the mix include Stanford University forward Jordan Morris, New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga, Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp, and Molde goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.