As expected, U.S. Soccer confirmed Tuesday that the men’s national team won’t play any games or conduct a training camp during the Oct. 5-13 FIFA window. Regulations, logistics and timing conspired against the Federation, which is now aiming to get coach Gregg Berhalter’s team back on the field in November.
The USA last played on Feb. 1 with a team of younger, mostly MLS-based players. It hopes to play two friendlies in the Nov. 9-17 window, likely at Wales and against a non-European national team on European soil.
“After extensive conversations about holding a men’s national team camp in October, we ultimately determined the unique challenges created by COVID-19 as it relates to hosting international opponents and getting our players together wouldn’t allow us to move forward,” USMNT GM Brian McBride said. “We appreciate the incredible amount of work our staff did and the discussions we had with Major League Soccer to try and address concerns and find solutions. While we won’t have the team together in this upcoming window, we are making considerable progress for November.”
The USSF was targeting Colorado for a friendly or camp next month, but several hurdles proved too high. There would be complications bringing in an opponent from outside the country and potential issues guaranteeing the safe travel of U.S. players. There also would be a significant impact on the MLS season. MLS is trying to play as many regular season matches as possible through the first week of November, and any player departing a league market must quarantine for 10 days upon return (this will be an issue next month as South America kicks off World Cup qualifying).
The focus is now on November and Europe.
“Both players and staff are disappointed not to be able to get back on the field for the national team and continue the progress we have made as a group,” Berhalter said. “While COVID-19 continues to create challenges for us, we are confident we can find a way forward in the near future that will provide an opportunity to play matches in preparation for the important competitions next year.”
Next year, especially the summer, will be packed. Concacaf also confirmed Tuesday that the Nations League final four, previously rescheduled for March 2021, now will be contested during the expanded May 31-June 15 FIFA window. The USA-Honduras and Mexico-Costa Rica semifinals, plus the third-place game and the final, will take place at a U.S. site to be determined.
The Concacaf Gold Cup will happen soon thereafter, from July 10 to Aug. 1. The Aug. 30-Sept. 7 FIFA window is then the very likely, but still unconfirmed, start of the World Cup qualifying octagonal.
With the pandemic layoff and the upcoming glut of games in mind, U.S. Soccer still hopes to conduct a traditional winter/January camp. It’s also considering staging an additional camp in December for MLS and domestic-based players.
Meanwhile, U.S. Soccer is still looking at the possibility of holding a training camp for coach Vlatko Andonovski and the women’s national team next month. There would be no matches—just training. NWSL-based players will be out of season and available (a number of core U.S. players have signed short-term club deals overseas and would presumably not be, though). The USWNT's next scheduled competition is the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July-August 2021.