SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The U.S. Men’s National Soccer team is scheduled to play the first of three warm-up matches at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park Tuesday night before next month’s FIFA World Cup.
The team, which includes San Jose Earthquake and Danville native Chris Wondolowski, has been training at Stanford for the last two weeks and the final roster going to the World Cup in Brazil was named last Thursday.
Brian McBride, a former U.S. Men’s National team member and the team’s third highest all-time goal scorer, spoke to KCBS and said it’s a great opportunity for all involved.
“For the 23 that made it, I think that it will be one of the most exciting periods in their lives,” McBride said.
The exclusion of the team’s all-time goal scorer Landon Donavan comes as a shock to McBride. “Quite honestly it’s a bold move,” he said wondering about the decision, but ultimately he respects and supports the coaching staff on their calls.
The warm-up match against Azerbaijan at Candlestick is an opportunity for the U.S. team to come together for the first time. They have their work cut out for themselves against teams like Germany, Portugal and Ghana, also known as the “Group of Death”.
“It’s going to be incredibly difficult,” McBride said. “Like all World Cups, the first game sort of creates momentum or lack thereof.”
While the U.S. team prepares for their match, McBride plans to visit an Oakland youth soccer club through a partnership with U.S. Soccer sponsor, Allstate. Oakland Select 97 U-17’s soccer team will be presented with gear and tickets to the May 27th match at Candlestick.
Whether or not there’s enough interest in the U.S. in soccer as a serious competitive sport, McBride said the fact that the country hasn’t been playing soccer as long as others isn’t really an excuse.
“The generation of our soccer is in a continued growth. There’s plenty of experience in this group,” he said about the 23 selected players.