New Tune in Nashville
Friday’s friendly against Guatemala marks the fourth time the U.S. Men’s National Team will play in the “Music City”. Though the team is just 1-2-0 all-time in Nashville, the city does hold a few memorable moments for a couple of the current crop of players.
Gold Cup captain Michael Bradley actually saw his name on a game-day roster for the first time here as a guest player with the side in their send-off friendlies prior to leaving for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Bradley was an unused sub in the team’s 1-0 defeat to Morocco on May 23, 2006, before earning his first U.S. cap three days later in a 2-0 win vs. Venezuela in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s now just two away from joining the Century Club.
Of course, the biggest U.S. moment in Nashville came when then 19-year-old Jozy Altidore became the youngest player in MNT history to score a hat trick, bagging all three goals in the side’s 3-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying victory against Trinidad & Tobago.
Beyond the individual memories, every time the U.S. MNT has come to Nashville, the support has been strong and the crowds have grown larger. That’ll be no different on Friday night as more than 37,500 tickets have already been sold, smashing Nashville’s previous best attendance record of 29,059 on March 29, 2011 against Paraguay.
Bradley/Altidore/Dempsey Together Again
Jurgen Klinsmann has made no secret of the fact that his approach to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup is to win now so the team can directly qualify for a place at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. A big part of that is calling in an experienced roster that has an average of 30.5 caps, including the three most seasoned players on the roster: Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey.
Friday night will likely be the first time since February’s 2-0 win against Panama that the trio will appear together on the field after injuries and the birth of Clint Dempsey’s child kept it from happening more recently. Should all three appear against Guatemala, it would mark the 50th time the trio has played together with the National Team.
Captains…Leaders on the Gold Cup Roster
While Klinsmann has international experience in his squad heading into the Gold Cup, he’s also got leadership, with four players on the roster captaining their club teams: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC) and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Current U.S. number one goalkeeper Brad Guzan received the first of his 30 international caps during the team’s 4-0 rout of Guatemala in a friendly on February 19, 2006.
It’s not quite déjà vu, but Friday’s falls almost two years to the day of midfielder Alejandro Bedoya’s first U.S. MNT goal, which also came in a Gold Cup warmup against Guatemala. With the U.S. already laying a 5-0 thumping on Los Chapines, Bedoya popped up with his first strike in the 88th minute to close the scoring at 5-0.
Bedoya joined Jeff Agoos (June 13, 1988), Brian McBride (November 3, 1996) and Frankie Hejduk (December 21, 1996) as notable U.S. players that scored their first international goal against Guatemala.
Jurgen on the Friendly
The 2013 friendly win ran the U.S. MNT’s unbeaten streak against Guatemala to 20 matches, the team’s longest-ever unbeaten run against any nation. Despite having handily defeated Guatemala last time out, Klinsmann said the Central American side will provide a tough final test for his team Friday ahead of the Gold Cup.
“It’s definitely a different Guatemala [team] than we played two years ago. Two years ago we played them in San Diego and it was 6-0 -- they basically came off vacation -- they were not qualified for the Gold Cup. This is a different Guatemala team. This is a Guatemala team that wants to do well in this Gold Cup. We expect some difficulties, a tight game and a lot of work.
We have respect for their individual qualities. All Central American teams are technically different and can put you into some problems in a split second with a set piece or a counter break. They will also have respect for us. They see what we did over the last couple of years. That’s why I said a few weeks ago, we will face teams that will play extremely defensive-minded against us. [The team] has to find ways to solve it. They have to find ways to create chances and put them in the back of the net.”