As I begin to write a tidy little FanHouse preview of Saturday's 2010 CONCACAF World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Cuba in Washington, it appears a pair of Cubans have already defected. So congrats to those there in Inter-nets land that had Friday in their Cuban Defection Pool. (Me, I had Sunday morning.)
So with the Castro-baiting out of the way, let's look at what you need to know about the match. (7 p.m. EST, ESPN Classic)
- * With a win, the U.S. automatically moves to the final stage of CONCACAF qualification, with two games remaining.
- * Coach Bob Bradley may have finally heard the fans pleas in the dark alleys of Internet blogs and message boards and included young phenoms Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore. (Danny Szetela gets his first national team recall in a while, too. )
- * Texas-born 20-year-old Jose Francisco Torres is included in his first U.S. squad. This is only noteworthy because a) his father is Mexican and b) he plays professionally in Mexico for Pachuca. If Torres gets a cap he will lose his right to switch allegiance to Mexico down the road. (Judging by the tone of this Spanish-language report, El Tri fans don't seem overly happy about the decision.)
- * Watford defender Jay DeMerit was named to the roster but stayed in England to rehab a nagging leg injury.
- * The U.S. hasn't allowed a goal in six matches, the last coming to Spain's Xavi in a pre-Euro tuneup for the Spanish.
- * Fulham's on-loan striker Eddie Johnson finally was left out of the team. In his stead come Altidore and Charlie Davies, who plays in Sweden. Surprisingly to fans of MLS, Kenny Cooper -- who's second in the league behind Landon Donovan with 16 goals -- stays home again. There are only four MLSers on the roster (Donovan, Frankie Hejduk, Sasha Kljestan and Brian Ching.)
Overall, this match figures to be more of the same for the U.S., which barring a miracle should advance with ease. The more interesting match to watch will probably be Wednesday's match at Trinidad & Tobago, since Bradley might finally take off his Barry Goldwater-approved conservative glasses and unleash some of the young blood. In any event matches at RJK Stadium always produce a good atmosphere and home some of the best and most passionate supporters America has to offer. Hopefully they'll have some kind of banner hanging from the touchline egging somebody on as they've famously done in the past for D.C. United matches.