U.S. relishes stern test vs. Dutch
AMSTERDAM -- Hard games. That has been the mantra for the U.S. national team under coach
This game -- the final A-squad friendly before pre-World Cup camps start in mid-May -- will mark the 10th time in Bradley's tenure that the U.S. has met a team in the top 10 of the latest FIFA rankings after going head-to-head against heavyweights Brazil (three games), Spain (twice), Italy, Argentina (twice) and England.
And while the U.S. is a combined 1-7-1 in those games, those losses won't matter much if the seasoning and confidence that come from playing in hard games results in success starting June 12 against England at the World Cup.
The Dutch clinched a berth in South Africa with ease, winning all eight of their World Cup qualifiers, and barring any surprises the U.S. will face all but one of Holland's first-team starters (injured forward
"You only get so many opportunities like this," U.S. left midfielder
The U.S. has been hit by the injury bug in recent months, and four regular starters will be missing as a result: right midfielder
It's that Dutch speed that gives opposing defenses fits, particularly
"I've played against both of them previously," Spector said. "Robben is in really good form for Bayern Munich right now, so it's a tough time to come up against him. He's obviously very quick, and he cuts inside quite a bit depending on where he's playing. From the right I've seen him cut inside a lot onto his left foot. He's got a really good strike on him. He's a quick and crafty player, so he likes to go at you 1-v-1.
"I think Kuyt is a little different. He's got a really good work rate, so he's more of a nuisance than anything else. He's a tough person to play against because of how hard he works, both when they have the ball and when he's defending."
The Netherlands will be dangerous up the middle, too. Inter Milan star midfielder
Will the U.S. defenders, including likely center backs
For that to happen a lot will be asked of the U.S.'s central midfielders,
The U.S. player who may have the most on the line today is
If Davies isn't healed for South Africa, the most effective second forward would probably be Dempsey, who lacks Davies' speed, as do
There are also a number of potential substitutes who could bolster their credentials for making the World Cup roster, including Findley, midfielders
Ultimately, it won't matter much if the U.S. picks up loss No. 8 to a top 10 team in the Bradley era, but the U.S. does need to show well and compete. You learn the most about your team in hard games. And this most definitely qualifies as a hard game.
• German-American midfielder
• Bob Bradley is often almost pathologically cautious in his on-the-record comments, but he let his guard down for a moment here on Tuesday after being asked by some English media about the U.S.-England game on June 12. "Occasionally there are some managers in England who subtly let me know that they're rooting for us that day," Bradley said. "You can guess that they're not actually born in England, but it's all part of it, I guess."
Premiership coaches whom Bradley might have been referring to included Everton's