With the Orange and Blue away from Nippert Stadium until June 22, attention turns to the Red, White and Blue – the U.S. Men’s National Team – which visit Cincinnati for the first time on Sunday, June 9 for a matchup against Venezuela.
The game is a friendly, meaning it’s two teams playing for pride and to see growth, not for anything tangible on the line. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a critical affair.
Venezuela will be preparing for the 2019 Copa América, South America’s biggest tournament, which starts June 14.
As for the U.S., they’ll be a week away from their first major international tournament since failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup starts June 15, and while the Americans are the reigning Gold Cup champions, but the stench from the World Cup failure still lingers.
That’s not a secret. In fact, it’s something USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter wants his team to embrace.
“It’s something we discussed with the team,” Berhalter said. “We’ve embraced this failure as much as we’ve embraced the good times with U.S. Soccer. What it’s done is it’s really given us fuel.
“I’ve seen how the players have been extremely focused in (national team) camp. I’ve seen how their mindset is to not take things for granted and understand things are going to be difficult, that we are going to be challenged on many different levels. I’ve been pleased with that,” he added.
Berhalter continued, “Part of this journey is reflecting on the past, seeing where we can improve, and then actually going out and doing. So far in this process, the guys have done a great job of working through that.”
That process will continue in Cincinnati against the Venezuelans.
Considering the Queen City is hosting the Berhalter’s last opportunity to tinker with his team before the Gold Cup, fans in attendance will likely see the country’s Best XI and the presumed starting lineup that will represent the nation in the tournament.
“It’s going to be a really difficult final preparation match,” he said. “When I think about some of the competition in Gold Cup, this is really going to prepare us, this match. When I’m looking at the roster, when I’m looking at the timing, everyone’s coming into camp. This is going to be a good final preparation match. Hopefully we’re going to be able to get all our guys on the field in that game.”
Tickets for the U.S.-Venezuela match are still available through U.S. Soccer.