Midfielders Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi think the American team's trip to Brazil was worthwhile preparation as the World Cup approaches.
CARSON, Calif. — The United States national team continued training Thursday in cloudy California, as the team enters the final leg of its January training camp.
The weather near Los Angeles is a bit of a change for the team, which traveled to Sao Paulo to simulate the environment it will experience at this summer’s World Cup. Of course, with Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, located in the Southern Hemisphere, the USA felt a different climate than it's currently experiencing in California.
It’s summer there, and midfielder Graham Zusi expressed hope it will be a bit cooler the next time the Stars and Stripes pay a visit. But even with some harsh weather conditions, the Sporting Kansas City player said the team will benefit from the experience.
“It’s been a fantastic experience for everyone, staff included I think,” Zusi said. “The trip down to Brazil was one that we’ll be able to look back on I think this summer and be extremely happy and privileged that we were able to get down there before the summer.
“Just those little things that we may not have thought of before coming back and using those little experience to our advantages.”
Those small advantages include knowing what to expect from the climate and the accommodations, Zusi said, and even three-time World Cup veteran Landon Donovan agreed that the camp has been a big boost toward the start of the campaign.
“There’s always an excitement at this part of the year leading into our season. There’s always guys fighting for spots, which is good,” Donovan said. “I guess as far as preparation you want to be peaking at the right time, so this is good for everybody to get a sense of what the expectations are and what Jurgen and the coaching staff want. But the reality is we’re going to get judged and picked based on how we do Saturday, potentially how we do in March and how we do with our teams during the season.”
Saturday brings a friendly against South Korea, which kicks off at 5 p.m. ET at the StubHub Center, while a friendly against Ukraine has been announced for March. The national team will also play a number of other games this spring in preparation for the World Cup.