U.S. heads to World Cup with players struggling for game time
U.S. World Cup Roster
Derek Nesbitt, left, and Mark Geiger play defense together in the final group phase game of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — After two weeks of qualifying for the World Cup, the USA is heading to the tournament as the least rested team in tournament history.
Heading into the quarterfinals, the U.S. isn’t playing at full capacity, even with all of its players playing in every minute of its matches. The team is playing fewer than 50 percent of its regular-season matches. The U.S. is so tired its starting lineup is playing at half-strength.
The U.S. has played every minute of all its games, with the exception of its two warmup matches. For most of the American players in Russia, it could be their first match-up with the rest of the World Cup squad. That will play a big role in how the Americans measure their fitness going into the tournament.
“I think it’s important to be as prepared as possible because if you don’t play 90 percent of the time, you don’t get the results,” midfielder Perry Kitchen said Friday before USA training in Florida. “For me, it’s just preparation and being as fit as possible.”
The USA’s U-23s, who play in training in Orlando, are taking a similar approach, even though they have much more time to prepare for these players than the USA does.
“I’m not worried about the other team [playing with less of a full squad],” coach Thomas Rongen said. “We’re not worried about it. Our job is to prepare ourselves.”
If the U.S. plays two games