According to the Associated Press, the United States Men's National Team is going to play Egypt in February. No, wait. It says "likely." What's going on here? Let's let the AP's report, released mid-day on Friday and distributed here by Sports Illustrated, speak for itself:
So it's not a sure thing, but excuse me for being excited. The idea of the U.S. going to a tough opponent, arguably the best team that didn't make it to South Africa? I love it, a take on all comers attitude. If this match gets made, the only way it could get better is if the Qataris build one of their Erector set stadiums at the foot of the sphinx and let the boys play under the desert stars.
Chile in January at Home Depot. Egypt in February by moonlight, if this works out. Argentina in March at Qwest? Wow. That's a spectacular lineup, a nice change from the steady diet of Northern and Eastern European teams we're used to getting. Not that there's anything wrong with a little Netherlands and Czech Republic in our lives - there's not. But if you're going to change it up, this is the way to go.Some Brazil late summer followed by this main course? Well done, U.S. Soccer.
Chile may not have Marcelo Bielsa come January (he's set to walk away at year's end), but there is still a romantic quality surrounding La Roja. Even if their Argentine coach is off to greener pastures (the fields of Italy, according to some rumors), fans in the States will still be excited by the prospect of Bielsa's style carrying-over into new management.
Egypt's the best team in Africa, a fact obscured by their inability to get through an unforgiving World Cup qualifying process. The Pharoahs have won three consecutive continental titles and feature overlooked gems (to pick a few) Ahmed Hassan, Mohamed Aboutrika, and Essam Al-Hadry.
Argentina's name speaks for itself, completing a triad of ambitious opponents for which U.S. Soccer deserves credit, particularly if the team elects to go to Cairo. It's one thing to accept the competition when teams are willing to come to you, but the willingness to go half-way around the world to take on a quality opponent? It will be great experience for the next generation of U.S. stars as well as a showcase match for the fans.
And with Egypt having been routed by the States at the 2009 Confederations Cup (3-0), we could see an experienced Pharaoh side seeking a small token of revenge.