HAMBURG, Germany (June 5, 2006) – The U.S. invites Angola to training on Monday, June 5, for a closed-door scrimmage to begin the final week of training before the 2006 FIFA World Cup begins for the USA on June 12, 2006 vs. Czech Republic at 11:55 a.m. ET live on ESPN2.
“We started with a training camp on May 10, so we’ve had a lot of training sessions,” assistant coach Glenn “Mooch” Myernick said Sunday in a press conference at the team hotel. “There is no substitute for just playing, and playing against some different faces.”
This will be fifth opponent played by the team since manager Bruce Arena named the World Cup roster on May 2 live on ESPN’s SportsCenter. While training in Cary, N.C., the U.S. faced the USL1 Charleston Battery before embarking on the three-game Send-Off Series against Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia.
“To go from our last game against Latvia to our first game against the Czech Republic would be too long without a competitive situation,” Myernick said. “It will add a little bit to match fitness, and anytime you can play it’s better than any training session that we can put on.”
U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, who left the field with a hamstring strain just 15 minutes into the Morocco match on May 23, has “trained well” according to Myernick and will be available to play on Monday.
“As you are seeing throughout a lot of the games like we are going to be playing, the coaches are playing all of their players,” Myernick said. “In terms of the intensity of the games, you want that to replicate game situations. At the same time both teams understand ‘let’s be competitive but let’s not be foolish in our challenges.’”
The U.S. staff planned for the run up to Germany to be in sync with preparations for Korea/Japan four years ago, from the training camp in Cary, N.C., to the team’s home base in a major city. The closed door preparation match is no exception, as the U.S. faced Costa Rica four years ago in Seoul approximately one week before the opening 3-2 victory against Portugal.
With several other World Cup teams playing friendly matches around Germany and Europe earlier in the week, the German media questioned Arena on why this match is being held behind closed doors.
“It’s just a training session for both teams.” Arena said. “We’ll let you know about it. It’s not as big a deal as you think it is. It’s just practice for both teams.”
FIFA rules also stipulate that full international matches cannot be played on or after June 5, the official starting date of the competition.
Angola proved to be a practical choice for an opponent, as their base camp is in Celle, Germany, which is about 75 miles south of Hamburg. On Friday, June 2, Angola relinquished a 1-0 halftime lead to fall 3-2 to Turkey in a preparation match in Holland.
Angola will make their FIFA World Cup debut on Sunday, June 11, vs. Portugal. They will also face Mexico and Iran in Group D play.