USMNT to face Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in World Cup send-off series

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By FRANCO PANIZO

The U.S. Men’s National Team will take on Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in their pre-World Cup send-off series.

U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday that the Americans will face Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on May 27 before traveling to New Jersey to face Turkey at Red Bull Arena on June 1. The Send-Off Series will conclude on June 7 with a friendly against Nigeria at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

Azerbaijan is currently ranked No. 93 in the latest FIFA rankings, while Turkey is ranked 42nd. Nigeria is ranked No. 47, but is the defending African Nations Cup champion. The USMNT faced the Czech Republic and Turkey in their send-off matches ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The series will be the final preparation matches the U.S. team plays before kicking off the World Cup on June 16th in Natal, Brazil against Ghana.

Here is the Send-Off Series schedule (including TV listings):

U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM SEND-OFF SERIES (All Times Eastern)

May 27: Candlestick Park, San Francisco

10pm – USA vs. Azerbaijan – ESPN2

June 1: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.

2pm – USA vs. Turkey – ESPN2

June 7: EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.

6pm – USA vs. Nigeria – ESPN

——

What do you think of the match-ups? Disappointed to see Azerbaijan among the teams? Think Turkey and Nigeria offer good preparations for the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany?

Share your thoughts below.

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154 Responses to USMNT to face Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in World Cup send-off series

  1. Dc says:

    The west coast gets Azerbaijan. Uh….sweet.

  2. Maykol says:

    Ahh azerbaijan, hopefully this will give the guys a bit of confidence. Turkey and nigeria are good teams with good players. I saw parts of the mexico nigeria game, and both teams had plenty of fight.

  3. Curtis says:

    Azerbaijan feels random and disappointing — wonder how many will show to see that game.

    Turkey and Nigeria are pretty good preparation for Portugal and Ghana, respectively.

    Mixed bag.

    • tga says:

      all of theyAzerbaijanians west of the rockies will flock to the Rose Bowl, are you kidding me….

      • whoop-whoop says:

        Which will be a bit of a shame for them as the game will be going on 400 miles north in San Francisco/Candlestick park.

  4. Josh D says:

    Azerbaijan I guess for the easy win and confidence boost?

    Turkey for their wing play to prepare for Portugal, I’d guess. Turan as a poor man’s Ronaldo?

    Nigeria to play a fast paced, athletic team similar to Ghana. Why we don’t play more African teams during friendlies is beyond me. They’re our achilles heel.

    A decent line-up with a couple challenging foes.

    • user222 says:

      the must game for the US is Ghana… get 3 points and you’re 60% into the knockout phases.

      There is no need to play friendlies to prepare for Germany/Portugal as we can only beat/tie them in a shocker.

      The Nigeria friendly does make sense. We should play all three send-off friendlies against Nigeria or other African teams.

    • Brad says:

      Could we all please stop referring to Ghana as “a fast paced, athletic team” and that we should play more friendlies against African teams to prepare for them. Its like the Larry Bird v Michael Jordan debate, and saying that Bird was a student of the game, and Jordan was an athlete.

      Ghana has 9 players in the champions league, and I don’t think it’s due to their athleticism.

      • away goals says:

        Dont forget to mention that they lack discipline in the back and their goalkeeping is a wild card.

        • QuakerOtis says:

          Or GDP, population size, infrastructure, NBA, NFL, MLB, and George Washington, since those determine who wins the WC.

      • BB says:

        Yes, thank you. Its 2014 we need to get past these lazy stereotypes. These are all professional football players. Of course they are fast paced and athletic. This is not only African teams. Wouldn’t you say Cristiano Ronaldo is athletic and fast paced? What about Messi? Neymar? Donovan? Alba? etc Bottomline this type of journalism and analysis needs to go by the wayside. Its subtle racism.

        • GW says:

          “Its subtle racism.”

          Nothing subtle about the racism on this site.

        • Wilson O says:

          Great comment BB. Nothing sublet about it. As far as I am concerned, it is blatant racism. Funny thing is the US team is probably more athletic that most African teams. The main difference is the skill set. America players are just not as skillfull but I think that is improving and it will definitely get better

      • Reggie White says:

        The African teams are actually known for being spiritual.

      • The Garrincha says:

        Thank you Brad,
        funny how people give such flippant comparisons.
        anyway Nigeria would be considered the 3rd or 4th best team in CAF.
        Ghana, Ivory Coast, Egypt/Nigeria, throw in Senegal, Cameroon, Algeria in good years and that just about does it.

    • sony says:

      Yeah, confidence boost.Jozy needs that for sure.Game against Azerbaijan is a mistake.

  5. Tomas McBooglebones says:

    The only thing I can gather on that Azerbaijan game is that its a confidence boost..not really sure what else to say about playing the 93rd ranked team in the world. So needless to say pretty disappointed about that one, but I do really like the Turkey, and Nigeria games. I’m just really bummed we couldn’t get a game with a truly elite opponent. I mean Spain is already going to be here. That would’ve been great prep for how we might need to play against Germany.

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      I sure hope that this business of instilling confidence stops soon. Confidence comes with success in what the team or individual players are doing. It doesn’t come with letting them play against weak teams so they can win. The players will know and they will feel as if they are being treated like children, and subliminally it will do exactly the opposite to building confidence.

      • JH says:

        It is actually a fairly common practice of world cup teams to warm up against weaker nations in May preparations. When May comes around, check out who some of the world powers will be playing against…there will be a few minnows in there. That particular game is less about the competition and more about getting the chemistry working, building up the confidence and getting into a winning rhythm.

        • Birgit Calhoun says:

          That’s fine but it shouldn’t be constantly pointed out that the so-and-so’s needs to build confidence. Another thing: The team should have been selected and be secure in its being the team, and then the warm ups can be done. I bet Klinsmann waits till the last minute to stop waffling about who does and does not go.

  6. argh says:

    WTF?

    what happened to Serbia or Sweden?

    Azerbaijan? Why not ARMENIA? that way it’d be in time for the Kanye West- Kim Kardashian wedding

    • JayAre says:

      +1 We need to play good teams to prepare for good teams. I was hoping we got Serbia or Ecuador or Chile or France or anyone better than Azerbaijan

      • Birgit Calhoun says:

        I was hoping for Sweden so we could see Ibrahimovitz.

      • RB says:

        “+1 We need to play good teams to prepare for good teams.”

        Well then I guess it’s a good thing that less than 48 hours ago, we played a top 20 team and what at least was at one point recently the highest-ranked team not to make the WC, huh?

    • Eric says:

      FWIW, the LA area has a huge Armenian minority. Considering that Klinsmann is basically headquartered there, I could kinda see the USSF worrying about stacking the crowd with too many away fans (post-traumatic memories of the 2011 Gold Cup and whatnot). But that also doesn’t mean the US couldn’t have, say, Nigeria there and hosted Armenia in Jacksonville.

      I say this as an Armenian-American myself–even though I am a USA fan first, it would have been great to see Mkhitaryan and co. visit the States.

  7. Dos says:

    This pics really drives home how terrible the new jerseys are.

  8. argh says:

    ROSE BOWL is pretty close to me. how much will the tickets be?

  9. FELIXS9 says:

    Grant Wall is say the USMNT is playing in Palo Alto CA… please confirm!!!! link to soccer.si.com

    • QuakerOtis says:

      Right. And I had heard Stanford as a venue leading up to this announcement. Oh well…

  10. William the Terror says:

    Azerbaijan? This entire run up is turning into a circus.

    • Sandtrout says:

      After Wednesday, it feels like we’re all just hoping for a miracle. Yes, we’ll be better than the team vs. Ukraine, but we need to be 10 times better, and I’m not seeing that.

  11. truthiness says:

    Whatever happened to black soccer boots?

  12. argh says:

    if the NT flops in brazil? will that be a setback or is that just logical considering the Group of Death?

    • Umlaut says:

      I’ve been thinking about that a bit lately (especially after the Ukraine game…), and I think it will really just depend how they flop. If it’s just a case of playing really good teams and not managing to pull an upset, that’s one thing. But if we don’t even compete I’ll be very disappointed.

    • Hogatroge says:

      The fact is, our most realistic scenario for advancement (NOT our most realistic overall) is a win over Ghana and two draws w/ Portugal and Germany.

  13. Roundhead says:

    Not comparing apples to oranges but we played Ukraine like a 93rd ranking team. Maybe we need to play Azerbaijan. I wish we were playing better ranking teams but I really hope we can get our backline woes in order and Jozy can get some points because I dont think we have any other options to start in his place.

    • Brain Guy says:

      Sorry but I think Ukraine is a top-20 team, in any event the highest-ranking team not to qualify for Brazil.

      • Benny Dargle says:

        I think he is pointing out that the US looked like a 93rd ranked team when it played against Ukraine, which looked to be much better than us.

  14. Matty says:

    So, I know it says the last tune ups. But is it possible the play another WC team while in Brazil. I know in 2010 they played Australia in a friendly there. I think that would be best to get a better “game” feel for the conditions there. (weather, humidity, etc )

    • Good Jeremy says:

      New Jersey and Florida in May should be fairly similar weather to Brasil in June.
      I am guessing that the locations were also chosen to get us used to flying cross-country for every group stage game.

  15. Gerard D. says:

    Azerbaijain is probably the only team they could convince to fly to freaking California.

    • Jesse D says:

      I’m shocked anyone would live east of the rockies really. With humidity, bugs, rain, slush, ice, it is pretty clear the place to be out west where we don’t have that stuff. California is where most teams want to go. There is a reason the US sets up home base out here.

      • Eric says:

        ^^^

        What Jesse said.

      • Gerard D. says:

        I love the state of California.

        But really though–a flight from Sweden to California is not anybody’s idea of a good time.

      • Marco says:

        Enjoy your Earthquakes, fires, and droughts a bit too much? Not to mention drug gangs affiliated with other countries.

        • Sharkbait says:

          Haha, you beat me to it by 1 minute!

        • Birgit Calhoun says:

          After yesterday’s game I take the San Jose Earthquakes any day. They at least have synergy.

        • QuakerOtis says:

          “Drug gangs affiliated with other countries.”

          “Drug gangs?” As opposed to ice cream gangs?

          But good point, because these don’t exist anywhere else in the country…

        • UclaBruinGreat says:

          Drug gangs, and gangs are unique to California?? Wow, somebody has been living under a rock. Perhaps you need to read up on our nations history, or simply watch the national news more often.

        • S.T. Bear says:

          Yes. We enjoy fire. 35 million pyromaniacs, that’s us.

        • Al Gore says:

          The Internet? You’re welcome. I invented it at UCLA, in between earthquakes and attacks from ‘drug gangs.’

      • Sharkbait says:

        Right because California doesn’t have earthquakes, mudslides, or major forest fires or anything like that. Oh wait…

        • UclaBruinGreat says:

          Haha, ahh the haters. There is a reason why if you come to California, you see tons of people that aren’t originally from California living here. California is simply the best! Trust me, I am well traveled.

          “Earthquakes, mudslides and fires”… grasping at straws i see. Forest fires happen in sparsely populated areas, there is usually minimal property damage. The last major earthquake was in 1994 (20 years ago), and there wasn’t that much damage (all things considered) that came from it compared to other earthquakes around the world. The beaches, the snow, the great weather year-round, the beautiful national parks, the beautiful woman, some of the top universities in all the world (Stanford, Cal, UCLA, USC, Cal Tech), Hollywood, awesome nightlife, always something to do, always somewhere to go and something to see, job opportunities, cultural diversity, etc.

          • Increase0 says:

            I found LA traffic ruined most of the good bits about living there. Trying to get from Irvine to Newport Beach takes like 45 minutes sometimes. Blah
            Also the weather is only Amazing within 50 miles of the coast. Riverside is loathsome.

            I have found California a wonderful place to visit but not that great of a place to live. It’s like in Austin when everyone comes for South by Southwest and the weather is great. But they aren’t there long enough to be annoyed by UT students and the boiling sauna that is South Texas.

            What I’m really trying to say is that its like any other place. It’s great for some people but not everyone.

    • beto says:

      +1, how many teams declined this before they called up the Azerbejani’s?

      Understand that Brazil bound teams would want to play in a similar time zone but there had to be other non WC nations available right?!

  16. vodkatastesbetterinthemorning says:

    We are playing Azerbaijian because Berti Vogts is the manager.

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      Berti Vogts would never have chosen a team like Azerbaijian for a friendly. He also would not have chosen the defense we had yesterday. And he wouldn’t have put up with Dempsey and Altidore. One more thing, if we are assumed to not do well in the WC, why can’t we at least watch players who want to be there. The team I saw playing against Ukraine made me want to cheer for the US opponent. They need it more.

  17. Eric says:

    I’m happy to see a Bay Area game since I live in San Francisco. However, facing Azerbaijan is a bit of a head-scratcher since they’re nowhere close to the quality of competition we’ll face in Brazil.

  18. bizzy says:

    As easy as these games seem it is going to be a major up hill battle. After the way Dempsey and Altidore played against the Ukraine we are bound to lose one of these games (due to lack of goals) and in for a big surprise. Against Azerbaijan we’re going to have like 12+ chances with maybe a goal, Nigeria is a solid team and dismantle our nemesis Mexico (game still ended 0-0 thanks to Ochoa) so that’s going to be a game that’ll truly let us know where we are Technically, physically and Mentally, then of course Turkey convincingly beat sweden so, 93 ranked or 42 ranked, there is no need for “stronger opposition”, we have all we can handle starting May 27th (and Nigeria will be the ultimate test).

  19. JC says:

    I got to say that with many countries traveling through here on the way to Brazil, this is a disappointing list of opponents. Not saying that these games will be easy wins, just saying it was a good opportunity to match up against top teams..

  20. Godfrey Ingram says:

    Sunil thanks for finally bringing the USMNT back to the bay area after many years! Oh, wait Azerbajan, no thanks.. What a joke

  21. Someone says:

    How good/bad is Azerbaijan?

    • Benjamin C. says:

      They beat the Philippines 1-0 yesterday in Dubai. In the last qualifying cycle, they had 1 win, 6 draws, and 3 defeats. Most of their recent callups play domestically, with a few guys in Germany, Turkey, and Russia (per Wikipedia). Looking at the WC Qualifying results, they played squads like Russia, Israel, and Northern Ireland fairly tough. Can’t tell you anything about their style of play, though, but it appears defensive in nature just going by scores.

  22. Dan says:

    And bench Jozy (out the door) Altidore. And start Aaron Johannson instead. Jozy totally sucks!!!

  23. big al says:

    Ukraine exposed the following weakness.our defense,our offense, our midfield. What’s left? Oh lest l forget,GOALIE,our only knight in a shining amour TIMMY.

    • Francois says:

      We played with a makeshift back line, get over it.

      • sony says:

        Exactly Gooch belongs to USMNT “C” .

      • Birgit Calhoun says:

        It’s always easy to say make-shift after a loss. It wasn’t thought to be make-shift before the game started.

        • RB says:

          How in the world do you figure it wasn’t? No Besler, no Gonzalez, no DMB, not even Clarence Goodson. Gooch getting his first look in a while, JAB getting another early look, Castillo getting hopefully his last look…

    • Eric says:

      Overreact much?

    • Marco says:

      Howard’s lost a step this cycle also. Thankfully he used to be a step and a half past good so we’ll be alright, but if we lose those first two games we’re going to hand the keys over to Guzan for the third match and for going forward next cycle.

  24. Chicago Josh says:

    Two games before the 23-man roster is due on June 2. I’m curious if Jurgen will go with potential starters against Azerbaijan or try out some fringe players.

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      How about starting a new group from the NASL and the US Soccer League?

    • Curtis says:

      IMHO, the experimentation needs to end. Pick a starting line-up and stick with it. They need to learn each others tendencies and gel as a unit.

      We need all the stability and understanding we can manufacture in the next 3 months, cause right now the number of question marks around this team are innumerable.

  25. Pep Guardiola says:

    What happened to Sweeden??

  26. blokhin says:

    playing Azerbaijan in an Armenian-heavy Los Angeles? might as well play Armenia…

  27. Benjamin C. says:

    It would have been fun to play Qatar instead of Azerbaijan and stomp the daylights out of them. Maybe this can happen in the leadup to Russia 2018 after they have failed to qualify . . . again. Then FIFA will look even dumber, if that is possible.

  28. James H says:

    So we get smacked by Ukraine, our kits look like country club golf shirts and we get Azerbaijan as a WC prep game? Not exactly a few stellar days for US soccer is it? What happens if Azerbaijan draws or wins…

  29. Birgit Calhoun says:

    Considering that Nigeria just tied Mexico 0-0 I would think Nigeria is going to be a pretty good opponent. The other two look pretty weak to me. But maybe what the USMNT needs is a sense of winning. There are always illusions about winning. I am disappointed that none of the games are played at Stanford where the camp is supposed to be held.. Why aren’t any of the games played here? Is it the fan base? Or is it that the team needs to get in as much travel time as possible. I would think taking the stress of traveling away would make the stress later more tolerable..

  30. big al says:

    Hey Francois, did we also play with a makeshift line in our midfield and
    with Altidore? Didn’t our MEISTER say,go to Europe, and enter the Promise land.

  31. Frank says:

    Azerbaijan will be our last victory for a while. There’s no chance we’re beating anyone in Brazil. Not with Dempsey, Lazydore and a much older and slower Landon Donovan.

    • AcidBurn says:

      Please listen to the first 3 minutes of Ives last podcast and come back.

      Settle down.

    • away goals says:

      I mean, there’s some chance. That’s how chance works. How has nobody explained probability to you before?

  32. big al says:

    Until our players are capable of starting in Europe’s Champions league, we will be a second tier nation The top players in the top countries play there.

  33. CamRahn Bay says:

    I’ll take boring, uninteresting International Soccer opponents for $400, Alex.

  34. AcidBurn says:

    So the USMNT scheduled the standard “September cupcake” to get a confidence boost before starting the league season.

    • GW says:

      Mr. Burn,

      Azerbaijan comes 4 days before Turkey.

      Turkey comes 11 days before Nigeria

      Nigeria comes 11 days Ghana.

      The opposition starts out comparatively weak and gets progressively stronger.

      My guess is this is what they call ramping up to Ghana.

      Azerbaijan may not be England or France but they will be very hard to break down and the USMNT can always use practice doing that.

      Turkey is a good side. Nigeria is not at Ghana’s level but they should be solid.

      As for this familiarization with African teams business, Jozy, Dempsey, Bradley, Howard, Landon ( if he makes the team) all are likely to face Ghana and they all played Ghana in South Africa in the World Cup in 2010.

      I doubt they have forgotten and I doubt Ghana’s overall approach and style will change much. And of course JJ who is also likely to participate is Boateng’s bff or so he says.
      Ghana will not surprise the USMNT.

  35. Yesterday, I saw Nigeria play Mexico and our Southern neighbors got a draw they never deserved They were completely out played by Nigeria which probab ly should have won by at least 2 or 3 goals.
    JS

    • UclaBruinGreat says:

      Hah! You were obviously watching that game through ‘red, white and blue’ glasses. Look, I am as huge a USMNT fan as anyone, and I hate Mexico’s national team, but I call it like I see it. Mexico was not dominated or outplayed in that game. They dominated possession against Nigeria and had plenty of scoring chances where Nigeria’s goalie came up with big saves. Nigeria also had some scoring chances where Mexico’s keeper came up with big saves. Overall, I would say Mexico looked like the slightly better team (at least last night they did).

      Unfortunately, yesterday both Nigeria and Mexico looked miles better than the United States did against Ukraine. Hopefully that changes soon. Mexico and Nigeria played fast. They get possession of the ball and immediately go forward in numbers. USA (at least lately) play very slow and deliberate. They get the ball and pass the ball backwards and sideways a lot, with most of the possession in our own half, and then one of our defenders just boots the ball forward to someone when he runs out of passing options.

      • beto says:

        Game was pretty even, 2 good keepers and some good midfield play.

        Rafa Marquez looked terrible

    • Ian says:

      you can say that Mexico got outplayed the first 20 minutes of the game but you need to be blind to deny that they came back and dominated Nigeria the remaining 70 minutes, I think that they could have won if Dos Santos wasn’t injured.

    • GW says:

      Mexico could have won and maybe should have.

    • Samuel says:

      Mexico will always be the best team in CONCACAF, and will win a World Cup before the US, who will never win one, at least not in my lifetime, which I would like, but I am not a dreamer. Having said that, we’ll continue to beat them from time to time in CONCACAF tourneys. In this particular matched they outplayed Nigeria both physically as well as technically. They will place higher that US in WC, and some of you will hate it.

  36. The Imperative Voice says:

    A lot of travel for a team that will probably already be enduring a strenuous camp. I assume the first fixture is in California for camp continuity but you probably should have had either a second camp or a relatively tight cluster of games, not SF-NY-Jax. Fly all over the place for warmups and then go to Brazil and fly some more.

    Other than acclimation I’m not a fan of the Florida football stadia.

  37. iggy says:

    I think someone at the fed got confused by Atletico Madrid’s shirts, and thought we’d be playing them!

  38. beto says:

    First off, its in SF not LA (like everyone is saying), right? On a tuesday night in a huge (and ugly) stadium that is set for demo sometime soon.. Basically a bigger west coast RFK .. Across the continent from their next game. Idk No. Cal desirves a game but this doesnt look right. Id move this game to the Midwest along with training camp and give NorCal a real game later on when Stanford Stadium, Levi’s Stadium or the Quakes Park is open.

    RB Arena and Jacksonville will be rocking.

  39. Rob Jones says:

    Rubbish teams apart from Nigeria who is good. If the USA falls flat on its face against these teams then they will get rocked in Brazil. But to be honest I expect that to happen regardless of the results in the send-off games although it would pretty much confirm it.

    • Chris says:

      UGH I can’t wait for everyone to over analyze the results of these games.

    • Increase0 says:

      Turkey is a decent team. That there Galatasaray seems to be holding up pretty well. Oh they aren’t great but I think you are under estimating them.

  40. Chris says:

    I hope Kilnsi doesn’t spend much time trying fringe players out in the first games (which are before the roster deadline). I don’t want to see the dead weight anymore, time to play the guys who are going to Brazil.

  41. Tamer Salama says:

    This might be biased since I live in Texas but we should be playing teams in humidity and training in it to prepare for the world cup. Training in Cali makes no sense. The game in Jax def helps especially against Nigeria. The other match ups could have been better.

  42. Expat4455 says:

    Okay, from what we have seen so far: our prospects look bleak in Brazil and the 3 WC sent-off matches will have many different line-ups trying to determine, not only our starting line-up for Brazil, but the 23 going to Brazil as well. So, all the thoughts of how bad we will do are justified, I have them as well.

    But, does anyone believe as I do about this point? Would there be any positive change in this current attitude if Julian Green declared, participated in the 3 send-off matches and went to Brazil?

    • Samuel says:

      No more talk of Julian Green, this isteam USA not FC USA. I am tired of the mercenary mentality that has plagued US football. Not even with Messi switching to American citizenship will the US get out of that group.