International Friendly Preview: USA-Azerbaijan

The German coach will be eager for a win after his omission of the experienced striker from the squad caught the headlines in the past week
Jurgen Klinsmann hopes roster clarity can help prepare the USA for the World Cup, starting with a friendly against Azerbaijan on Tuesday night.

The German named his final 23-man party for the finals in Brazil on Thursday, with veteran forward Landon Donavan controversially left out.

Klinsmann revealed that had been a difficult decision, but ahead of Tuesday's fixture with Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the head coach believes finalizing the squad so early will aid his team's preparations.

"It is an exciting moment when you have narrowed it down as coaching staff and you believe that these 23 players can focus purely on Brazil," he said.

"We can go into more specific things, tactical approaches about the opponents and for the players it is important to know that you are part of it, and you can kind of relax, and that they are on the list and are going to Brazil and take it from there.

"What we are trying to do now with our 23 is to prepare in every training session and game that we have for the first game against Ghana [on June 16], because this is a huge game for us.

"That gives us a bit more quality in everything we do, and also gives the players a very clear picture of what is going on."

Klinsmann will be confident of getting tournament preparations off to a winning start against a side ranked 85th in the world, and will be looking to build momentum ahead of further friendlies against Turkey and Nigeria on June 1 and 7, respectively.

The USA qualified for the finals with ease, winning its CONCACAF group by four points, and has now reached seven consecutive World Cups.

Klinsmann will come up against a familiar face on the touchline on Tuesday, as Berti Vogts continues his role as Azerbaijan head coach despite being appointed as a special advisor to the U.S. national team in March.

Vogts has now been in charge of Azerbaijan for six years, and has struggled manfully as the nation continues to battle against Europe's footballing powerhouses.

Drawn in Group F for finals qualification this time around, Azerbaijan finished fourth in a pool including Russia and Portugal, winning one and drawing six of its 10 fixtures.

Vogts' inside knowledge of the hosts may aid Azerbaijan on Tuesday, but anything other than a United States victory would come as a huge shock as Klinsmann looks to steer his side on the path to World Cup success.