US Soccer Takes On Nigeria

first_imgJACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The U.S. soccer team is hoping one African club will teach them a thing or two about another.The Americans will use their final send-off series game against Nigeria on the night of June 7 to get better prepared for their World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16.Coach Jurgen Klinsmann called Nigeria a team “that will really give us a lot of answers to many of your questions.”The U.S. will use the friendly at EverBank Field to settle its World Cup lineup and maybe quell concerns about its sometimes shaky defense. More importantly, it will provide the Americans with a glimpse of what they will face against Ghana in Brazil.“Tactically, they’re very similar to Ghana, and we’re going out there to try to understand what an African team is all about, how they use their speed, their power, their skills,” defender Geoff Cameron said.Klinsmann broke down the matchup in greater detail, saying Nigeria and Ghana plays similar, fast and physical styles and have equally dangerous strikers.“They counter-break you very fast in transition defensively, they’re fit, they’re very physical, which is good for us because it will give us a little bit of a wake-up call now because this is what, at this point, now we really need,” Klinsmann said.“Gives us a little bit of indication of how to approach Ghana, how to beat Ghana, which is so crucial for us to start the World Cup with.”Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi even acknowledged that playing his team, which features talented forwards Victor Moses and Peter Odemwingie, could benefit the U.S. down the road.“I think Nigeria, Ghana, we play similar football,” Keshi said. “I think it’s going to be a good thing for the United States. The fact that they have Ghana in their group, I think they should be able to capitalize on that and make use of the best out of it.”Nigeria is coming off consecutive draws, a 2-2 tie against Scotland last week and a scoreless one against Greece on June 3.The U.S., meanwhile, beat No. 85 Azerbaijan 2-0 in San Francisco last week and topped No. 39 Turkey 2-1 in New Jersey on June 1. The 18th-ranked Americans have spent much of the week working out in Florida’s sweltering heat and humid while getting ready for the 44th-ranked Super Eagles.Klinsmann insisted many position battles remain open.“We’ll still use this game as seeing things and giving players an opportunity to be out there on the field and to fight for that spot,” he said. “Do we have a (Ghana) lineup in mind? Absolutely. Every coach has that at this point. Still, this is why you have these send-off games, friendly games. You give minutes to players that are right there and you want to see how they perform.”Although goalkeeper Tim Howard has his position locked up, he will be in the spotlight. The veteran will earn his 100th cap on June 7, becoming the 15th U.S. player to accomplish that feat.“It’s a proud moment for myself and my family,” Howard said. “I’m excited that it’s happening now during this process because this is a great time for the team. Everyone’s excited for the World Cup and wants to come. I couldn’t think of no better place to do it.”Of course, the best way to celebrate would be to finish with a clean sheet.The Americans were far from perfect against Turkey, giving up several decent scoring chances early in the first half. The defense settled down later, but the rocky start caused more conversation and maybe more concern about what many believe is the team’s glaring weakness heading into Brazil.The back line’s inexperience has been a popular theme since Klinsmann announced his 23-man roster last month. This is the first time since 1990 the U.S. heads to a World Cup with no central defenders having played previous minutes in soccer’s showcase event.“There’s a lot of stuff that we need to get fixed and done and fine-tuned,” Klinsmann said. “It’s not just the back line. But if you give Turkey that amount of chances in a game, then you know that you have to fix a lot of stuff the day after. We have to minimize the mistakes the closer we get to the Ghana game because mistake in the World Cup cost you really.“Turkey didn’t take advantage of our mistakes thankfully. Hopefully (Saturday) is the next step in minimizing mistakes and getting better connected. … Hopefully it looks better in many ways.”(MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

Inspired by Chris Gayle, Ross Taylor hopes to play 2023 World Cup

first_imgNew Zealand batting mainstay Ross Taylor is preparing to play in his fourth World Cup but he has not ruled out featuring in another one four years later as he get “inspired” by West Indian Chris Gayle.At 35, the upcoming event could be the New Zealand batting great’s final World Cup bow but he says if his body allows he may still be playing in another showpiece event.For that, he does not have to look far for inspiration as he is keen to follow the 39-year-old ‘Universe Boss’ Gayle, for whom age has proven merely a number with runs scored and sixes struck aplenty.”I’m 35 but you never really know what is to come. Chris Gayle is probably an inspiration – he is 39 in this World Cup and I am 39 at the next, so it is not a simple matter,” Taylor, who will be playing in his fourth World Cup, was quoted as saying by the ICC website.”You never know, this will probably be my last World Cup but if these hamstrings and calves hold together then maybe I can be back in a few years.”New Zealand face West Indies in their final World Cup warm-up game at the Oval on Monday. They had beaten India by six wickets on Saturday and Taylor had scored 71.Taylor said he’s keen to keep pressure at a minimum over the coming weeks.”My approach to the World Cup is not necessarily a mindset of going out there just to enjoy it,” explained Taylor.advertisement”You always put a lot of pressure on yourself in big tournaments – pressure comes with it whether you think about it or not, so it is about managing those moments.”No Kiwi comes close to 67 centuries or fifties he has in ODI cricket but with a World Cup trophy still absent from his cabinet, the work is not done yet. New Zealand were finalists four years ago.”I think you have to pace yourself in a tournament like this, it is a long time and the way our schedule is, there are a lot of games at the start and a bit of a break in the middle. The way you rest and train between games is going to be very important,” he said.”When it comes to a warm-up you just treat it as that and then get out of the game what you want to get out of it. For us, we have not played as a team for two or three months, so it was about going out there and testing our skills out against the best.”It is going to be a lot tougher, making the final four years ago we played a lot of games at home and we knew our conditions very well. If you get off to a good start and get onto a roll, you can get into those semi-finals and suddenly you are only two wins away from winning it,” said Taylor.Also Read | World Cup 2019: Chris Gayle treats fans with autographs and selfies during rain break in warm-upAlso Read | Pakistan can end World Cup losing streak against India: Inzamam-ul-Haqlast_img read more