Over the past few days on Twitter, there have been a series of Top 5 tweets going around about favorite sporting events, events in history you first remembering, best athletes, favorite athletes, and more. It got me to thinking about a topic that I discuss often with my friends: desired opponents for the United States.
With the USMNT progressing in World Cup qualifying and the potential where they could qualify over the last four qualifying matches, that would leave November open for potential friendlies. There’s also the annual January camp, the March international window and then the send off friendlies before the World Cup. That means plenty of opportunities to have these matches.
Now, who should we play? I decided on one opponent from each confederation and where I’d like to see them play. I made 2 of the matchups as home matches, simply because some of these matches over the next 9 months will be at home. Some choices may be due to the quality of opponent, others may be based on the location. Without further ado, here are my 6 teams I’d like the USMNT to call up to schedule a friendly match:
AFC: USMNT @ Japan - International Stadium, Yokohama
I would love to see the USMNT travel to Japan for a friendly. The fans there are terrific, the competition would be fierce, and it’s a team we rarely face. The Tokyo-Yokohama area is one of the biggest in the world, and a match there will be highly anticipated by traveling fans. While the USWNT have faced Japan several times in big time matchups, including the 2011 and 2015 Women’s World Cup Finals, the USMNT and Japan have only faced each other twice: a February 2006 win in San Francisco and a March 1993 defeat in Tokyo. It’s time that we had a rubber match.
CAF: USMNT vs. Ivory Coast - TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Speaking of teams we’ve rarely faced, the Ivory Coast have only stepped onto the field against the USMNT one time: a 5-2 American victory back in October 1992. That’s way too long to not face one of Africa’s biggest powerhouses. We’ve seen recent matchups against Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. Let’s tango with The Elephants, and let’s do it in a city that I’ve never visited that has grown a nice base of soccer fans: Minneapolis. A visit to Paisley Park and First Avenue will be in order for me on this trip before we watch the USMNT battle the Ivorians.
CONCACAF: USMNT @ Nicaragua - Estadio Nacional de Futbol, Managua
Believe it or not, when the USMNT took on Nicaragua last month during the Gold Cup, it was the first time they had ever faced each other. That’s incredible considering the amount of times we have faced almost every other nation in Central America. We routinely see the USMNT play Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It would be cool to head to what many call the crown jewel of Central America and play a match in Managua. It hopefully would not be a competitive matchup, but Nicaragua is starting to pay more attention to soccer (the number one sport there is still baseball), and a matchup there would be a great road test for the Americans.
(Runners-Up: Barbados, St. Lucia)
CONMEBOL: USMNT @ Uruguay - Estadio Centenario, Montevideo
Over the past decade, we’ve seen the USMNT play every single team in CONMEBOL at least once, except one: Uruguay. We haven’t faced the CONMEBOL giants since 2002, and it would be a chance to visit the nation where the World Cup was born. So many people speak of a trip to Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile or even Ecuador. Believe me, I’d love to do those too. But, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to travel to Montevideo and tour a country many revere for its beauty.
(Runners-Up: Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia)
OFC: USMNT vs. New Zealand - Westpac Stadium, Wellington
I have a bucket list of nations to visit, and after a couple trips, New Zealand has moved to near the top of that list. In the land of The Hobbit, let’s start in Wellington against the All Whites. They’re the best team in Oceania and it would a match that many would love to travel. Let’s win in Wellington and then party in Auckland.
UEFA: USMNT vs. England - RFK Stadium, Washington, DC
I have never been to England outside of traveling through London’s Gatwick Airport. I have always wanted to visit the United Kingdom and travel throughout the 4 . Still, I love RFK Stadium. It’s one of the greatest soccer stadiums in the world, and you can at me, DM me, or call me out publicly because that belief will never change. It’s a special place to me and to the USMNT and it’s in its final year. As much as I’d love to play England in Wembley Stadium, what better way to close down the Old Lady than beating England in our nation’s capital. The Three Lions been ducking us since the 1-1 draw in the opener of the 2010 World Cup, but come see us in front of a sold out RFK. There would be nothing better than that, in my mind.
Now, I turn it to you. Who would you like to see the USMNT play? Hit those comments and let us know what teams have you always wanted to see the USMNT play, or those teams you want to see us play again!