USA vs. Iceland
January 31 | 3:45 pm ET | StubHub Center, Carson, Calif.
TV: ESPN2, UniMás, UDN
The US national team kick off their 2016 program on Sunday afternoon with a friendly against Iceland. The match, arriving at the tail end of the annual January training camp, should give some veterans a chance to get back to game action after the MLS offseason, while newcomers to the team will seek playing time in the match.
Meanwhile, the visitors are in the midst of something of a preseason slate themselves, with a mostly Scandinavian-based roster coming to California to face the Americans.
Who will see action for the US?
One of the annual questions for friendlies that take place during the year's first training camp is who will get minutes in the games. This year, we could see even more fresh faces, with this USMNT roster being a mix of senior players and U-23 eligible players, who are gearing up for the key home-and-away playoffs series against Colombia with a slot in the 2016 Rio Olympics on the line. Will head coach Jurgen Klinsmann opt for a veteran-heavy lineup, a mix, or a U-23-oriented XI?
Scoping out the 'keepers in camp
Sean Johnson is the relative USMNT veteran among the three in camp, with MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Luis Robles and debutant selection David Bingham rounding out the group. In all likelihood, these three 'keepers are competing for depth slots in the senior pool, but if one of them catches fire and impresses Klinsmann, he could be in the reckoning for more selections in the future, make no mistake.
Any hope for the plane to France?
Iceland's roster does not feature many first-choice members, most of whom are currently playing with club teams around Europe at the moment. Still, there's every motivation for the players featuring on Sunday, as a good performance could boost their chances of being on the plane to France for this summer's European Championship, the country's first-ever participation in a major tournament.
Players to Watch:
Gyasi Zardes, USA
The LA Galaxy forward had a terrific first year in the USMNT program in 2015. Can he build on that with a stronger 2016? Expect the hometown boy to see minutes against Iceland, and if he scores, he'll likely help cement his place in the lineup for World Cup qualification.
Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Iceland
Yes, Icelandic legend Eidur Gudjohnsen is on the roster, and the former FC Barcelona man is likely getting close to hanging his boots up. But Saevarsson, a defender who has the second-most caps on this Iceland roster, is coming off a strong season at Swedish club Hammarby and with a good start to 2016, could even be in line for minutes at the Euros.