The U.S. national team will look to wrap its send-off series with a win over fellow World Cup participant Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida.After four years of preparation, just one tune-up separates the U.S. national team from the World Cup.
The Americans will wrap their three-game send-off series Saturday when they host Nigeria at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida (6 p.m. ET, ESPN). After opening with a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan, the USA recorded a 2-1 triumph Sunday against Turkey in Harrison, New Jersey.
"The fine-tuning element is coming along, it's getting better," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "It's not there where we want it yet — there's no question about it. But we're working on it, and the best way for the players to work on that obviously is to get out on the field and play a real match."
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After switching from a diamond midfield to a flat-four unit at halftime against Turkey, Klinsmann will have an interesting tactical choice Saturday as he continues to experiment with different systems.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard, right back Fabian Johnson, midfielders Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, and forwards Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore appear to have their positions locked down, but competition remains in the back and on the flanks.
Following Timmy Chandler's tough outing at left back against Turkey, veteran DaMarcus Beasley will look to stake his claim to the spot Saturday. At center back, meanwhile, Omar Gonzalez and John Brooks will hope for a chance to unseat Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler. While Graham Zusi seems like a safe bet on the right flank, Alejandro Bedoya and Brad Davis will continue their battle on the left, with Julian Green as a dark-horse contender.
As a fellow World Cup participant from Africa, Nigeria figures to provide a matchup similar to the Americans' group stage opener against Ghana. The Super Eagles boast several players from the English Premier League, including Norwich City defender Joseph Yobo, Stoke City forward Peter Odemwingie, and the Chelsea duo of midfielder John Obi Mikel and winger Victor Moses.
After Nigeria played to a scoreless draw with Greece on Tuesday in Chester, Pennsylvania, Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi said that he expects a "volatile" match against the USA as both teams seek momentum going into Brazil.