TAMPA, Fla. — Overcast skies muted the heat Monday morning at the University of South Florida, where the United States men’s national team kicked off three days of training leading to Thursday night’s match against Colombia.
The U.S. will play Colombia at Raymond James Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at 7:30 p.m. ET as part of a six-match “Kickoff Series” to launch the new World Cup cycle. FS1, Univision and UDN will broadcast the game.
“Colombia is a very talented team,” U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan said before training Monday. “They obviously were part of the World Cup. They’re strong. They’re technical. They’re fast. They’re experienced, and it’ll be a good challenge for us.
“I think now there’s a lot of transition around the world with national teams. And so, I think it will be a blend [of new and veteran players] similar to ours with Colombia. We know that they’ll be very talented and motivated like our group.”
A young 23-man roster was called up for the match. Veteran midfielder Michael Bradley, 31, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan, 34, stand out among a group with an average age of about 23. Both were called up for the first time since last October, when the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“You enjoy every opportunity you have with the national team, you don’t ever take it for granted,” Bradley said. “I think there’s a number of young guys who have done well, and who have shown going forward to be a big part of things as we start to try to put a team together that can move into the Gold Cup next summer.”
The players stretched and began training in front of a small contingent of fans and youth soccer players in the stands at the university’s Corbett Soccer Stadium.
Seven players did not arrive in time for the first training session, but all were touching down in Tampa later Monday, according to U.S. Soccer spokesman Michael Kammarman. Most of those players will arrive from Europe, except for Toronto FC’s Marky Delgado, who received a call-up Sunday after Schalke 04’s Weston McKennie withdrew with an adductor injury.
Out here at #USMNT training in Tampa @USouthFlorida. 7 players missing, all will arrive today, per US Soccer. Absent: Marky Delgado, Ethan Horvath, Matt Miazga, Tim Weah, Andrija Novakovich, Kenny Saeif, Jonathan Amon. pic.twitter.com/1MBsg0rojg
— Alicia Rose DelGallo (@OSAliciaD) October 8, 2018
Star midfielder Christian Pulisic and the New York Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams also suffered injuries that caused them withdraw from the roster. As a result, the Philadelphia Union’s Fafa Picault was called up.
“You always want your best group available, and this is the nature of the national team,” U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan said before Monday’s training session. “Guys get hurt, guys have to miss, so it’ the next man up. The depth pool is a good depth pool, and now it’s an opportunity for some other guys to step in.”
Meanwhile, Hurricane Michael is inching toward Florida’s panhandle, putting Tampa Bay on a tropical storm watch. The storm could make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane Wednesday.
“Locally, the Tampa Bay area could experience storm surge, thunderstorms as early as Monday night that could total 1-3 inches of rain — with possible localized flooding — and strong winds over the next few days,” the Tampa Bay Times reported Monday.
As of Monday’s training session, the team’s training schedule remained unaltered, including a 9:45 a.m. sessions Tuesday and Wednesday at USF and Raymond James Stadium, respectively.
After Thursday’s match, the Americans will head to East Hartford, Conn., for an Oct. 16 match against Peru.
ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 58/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 5/0)
DEFENDERS (8): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 34/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 0/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; 5/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 9/1), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG; 4/0), Ben Sweat (New York City FC; 0/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 54/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 19/1), Jonathan Amon (Nordsjælland/DEN; 0/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 140/17), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 3/0), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 12/4), Fafa Picault (Philadelphia Union; 1/0), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 2/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 8/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 5/1)
FORWARDS (3):, Andrija Novakovich (Fortuna Sittard/NED; 2/0), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 3/1), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 41/12)