This soccer-mad L.A. Latina has attended seven World Cups. Qatar will make it eight. The U.S. could make it nine. This U.S. national team could be the first team in the country to win a fifth straight World Cup title.
“It’s going to be absolutely electric,” said USMNT forward Sydney Leroux, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist who made four appearances for the U.S. in 2011. “Every game is going to be just as hard and just as emotional as the one before that.”
“It’s a special time” with a U.S. team full of Olympic veterans who played the 2010 World Cup final. “We get to watch each other grow as players and with each passing year. It’s a bond that we’ve nurtured for years and years. It’s going to be fun to see how everyone fits together as a team.”
The most important game is the opening game against England on June 16 at 5 p.m. in São Paulo, Brazil, the final match on July 13 in London against Spain, the final tune-up the day before the 2016 Olympics begin. That would be the first appearance by the U.S. in a World Cup final since 1996, when then-coach Jurgen Klinsmann managed the U.S. to a 3-1 victory over France.
“It’s like a big reunion for me,” said goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who helped win the silver medal in London in 2012, when the U.S. advanced to the Round of 16 before falling to eventual champions Germany. “It has been a long time since I last played for my country. I am so excited and a little overwhelmed to be back. I am so happy to be part of this team. I had forgotten how good we are.”
The U.S. is the host nation in Brazil, where it will also play three games at the FIFA 2015 Copa America Centenario: a team composed of players who started or played at the 2010 World Cup, including Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and Argentina. The group will be announced on May 25 at