For many Americans, February 1 is the middle of winter. It is a time when they look outside, see snow, decide that they are way too smart to venture outside and instead watch Netflix while drinking beer until they fall asleep.
For the United States, February 1 marks the start of the year -- a friendly vs. South Korea and the beginning of their March to the World Cup. It is also one played in sunny Southern California in front of 27,000 people in short-sleeves.
The Yanks have a pretty good gig, don't they?
With Jurgen Klinsmann's first choice squad becoming increasingly dependent on MLS players, January camp takes on greater importance than it ever has. It is made up of solely MLS players and those from Scandinavian leagues, but with Matt Besler, Landon Donovan, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi all on the team for today's friendly, it's possible that this match features five players who will start in Brazil this summer, while several more are expected to also make the World Cup team.
For the first time, maybe ever, January camp really, really matters.
Korea, like the U.S., doesn't have all of their best player, but they still have a solid team. They will be backed by a pro-Korea crowd -- LA has the biggest Korean population of any city in the world after Seoul -- and, like many American players, are playing for a spot on their country's World Cup team.
While the January friendly has been relegated to Fox Soccer Channel in past years, or is cast off to NBCSN in a less-than-desirable time slot, this year it's on ESPN2 at a time that may actually a decent number of viewers. It's early enough that people will not have left to go out yet and there is very little competition from the rest of the sports world. Maybe this really does matter?
Match date/time: Saturday, February 1, 5 p.m. ET
Venue: StubHub Center, Carson, CA
TV: ESPN2 (English), UniMas (Spanish)
Streaming: Watch ESPN