The United States will finish preparations for the 2014 World Cup with matches against Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria. The Send-Off Series friendlies will be played in San Francisco, CA, Harrison, NJ and Jacksonville, FL, covering the country as the Americans get ready for Brazil.
The opening match of the Americans' pre-World Cup swing will be on May 27 against Azerbaijan at Candlestick park in San Francisco, CA (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). It will be the first match the U.S. has played in the Bay Area since June 2, 2007, when the Americans beat China, 4-1, at Spartan Stadium in San Jose. Azerbaijan is ranked 93rd in the world and didn't come close to qualifying for the World Cup, giving the U.S. a nice confidence booster to start the summer.
After playing Azerbaijan, the U.S. will head to Harrison, NJ, where they will play Turkey on June 1 at Red Bull Arena (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The Americans have played at Red Bull Arena once before, a 1-0 loss to Ecuador on October 11, 2011 in Jurgen Klinsmann's fifth match as U.S. manager. The Crescent Stars will provide the U.S. a much sterner test than Azerbaijan with several outstanding players like Arda Turan, Nuri Sahin, Burak Yilmaz and Umut Bulut. Turkey have not been to a major tournament since Euro 2009, where they made the semifinals,and struggled in World Cup qualifying, finishing behind Romania and Hungary for second place in their group and a playoff place.
The Americans' final friendly will be their toughest match as they take on Nigeria on June 7 at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, FL (7 p.m. ET ESPN). The last time the U.S. played in Jacksonville, they hammered Scotland, 5-1, on May 26, 2012, but the Super Eagles won't be quite so easy. Nigeria are going to the World Cup, where they have a good chance to advance out of Group F. John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses will test the U.S midfield, while Victor Obinna, Shola Ameobi and Obafemi Martins will make things tough on the American midfield. As far as getting a read on where the U.S. is just before the World Cup, the Nigeria friendly will be perfect.
U.S. players will start convening for training camp after the end of the European club season in mid-May. It is expected that the camp will be held in Northern California, leading up to the first friendly against Azerbaijan. They will have about two weeks of training before their first friendly, then will leave for New Jersey and then Florida. From there, they will head to Brazil.
Klinsmann has not yet said how many players he will call into training camp. He will have a 23-man roster available to him at the World Cup and odds are that he will call anywhere from 25 to 30 men into training camp before paring down the team.
The U.S. has just one match left before training camp, an April 2 contest against Mexico in Arizona, but that match does not fall on a FIFA international date so it will only include players from MLS and Liga MX. The final match for the U.S. with European-based players came on Wednesday against Ukraine, which the Americans lost, 2-0.