The U.S. men face Cuba and New Zealand in the final tune-ups for the last round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
MIAMI SHORES, Fla. (AP) — For U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, it's all about one thing: Mexico.
His team is training at Barry University, with two tuneup games coming up. The first is against Cuba in Havana on Friday, the first game for the U.S. on the island since 1947. The next is against New Zealand on Tuesday in Washington.
"The bigger picture behind these 10 days is clear—it's preparing for Mexico on Nov. 11," Klinsmann said.
That game—in Columbus, Ohio—is the first match for both teams of the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The U.S. plays Costa Rica follows four days later.
A number of young players will get their chance in the two tuneup games.
"We want to see them taking the initiative," Klinsmann said. "We want them to come in here and make a very strong impression. I think a good example is Sacha Kljestan. In the last two World Cup qualifying games we told Sacha, 'Listen this is your opportunity, but you've got to take it.' You've got to come in and make an impression and he did that in both games. A similar message to Danny Williams and other players. The door is always open."
Veteran goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are not on the 23-man roster, giving David Bingham, Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough a chance to show what they can do.
"It's our job to bring along the next wave of goalkeepers and try to give them opportunities," Klinsmann said. "The only way they can go grow is if you let them play."
Christian Pulisic, a promising 18-year-old midfielder, has been playing well with the U.S. and the German club Borussia Dortmund.
"He's a good young player," captain Michael Bradley said. "He's smart in terms of making the right decisions and being a guy who knows the game and understands when he can maybe try a little bit more and when he needs to be more simple. I think he continues to show he's going in the right direction."
Defenders Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson and forward Jordan Morris worked out but did not practice. Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya is out with a strained rib muscle.
The team will train Wednesday before heading to Cuba the next day.