The U.S. national team will face a final World Cup tune-up against fellow qualifier Australia on June 5 in South Africa, just a week before the Americans’ much-anticipated opener against England on June 12.
The Americans will take on the Socceroos in Roodeport, a community that neighbors Johannesburg. The Aussies – currently ranked No. 23 in the world – qualified for their second consecutive World Cup and will compete in Group D along with Germany, Serbia and Ghana.
The U.S. and Australia have met only twice in their history, playing to a scoreless draw in their most recent matchup in November 1998 in San Jose, Calif. Australia topped the Americans 1-0 in 1992 in Orlando, Fla.
“The match against Australia gives us a great opportunity to challenge the team a week before our opening match of the World Cup,” U.S. head coach Bob Bradley said in a statement. “Australia demonstrated in 2006 that they are a team capable of competing at the World Cup, and a match against a quality opponent on South African soil at that point in our preparations will help our readiness for the game against England.”
The match against Australia should provide both a primer and barometer for the World Cup opener against England, thanks to an Aussie lineup heavily bent on English Premier League players. The Socceroos lineup includes veteran midfielders Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers), Vince Grella (Blackburn Rovers) and Tim Cahill (Everton), defender Patrick Kisnorbo (Leeds United) as well as Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. The team also boasts Lucas Neill and Harry Kewell, both with Turkish club Galatasaray, and Palermo midfielder Mark Bresciano.
The match in Roodeport follows a brief, two-game domestic stint in late May that pits the Americans against two non-qualifiers heading into the World Cup. The U.S. will play the Czech Republic on May 25 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., and Turkey on May 29 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.