The United States faces Australia on Saturday, 8:30 a.m. Eastern in Johannesburg, South Africa, their final preparatory friendly before next Saturday's World Cup opener against England. The match will be coach Bob Bradley's final chance to gather information toward answering two lingering questions concerning his squad.
The uncertainty that's dwelt the longest concerns center half Oguchi Onyewu. "Gooch" continues his recovery from an October knee injury, with the two friendlies in the United States' "Send-off Series" offering drastically different indications of his readiness level. Last Saturday, Onyewu came-on in the second half and helped stabilize a defense that had been exploited in the first 45 minutes against Turkey. The preceding Tuesday, however, Onyewu struggled badly as the United States lost 4-2 to the Czech Republic.
Against Australia, Bradley will get to see Onyewu respond to a more physical test than he saw in those two matches. The Socceroos are likely to employ a physical brand of soccer that features 6'4" Joshua Kennedy as a lone striker, with aggressive attacking midfielder Tim Cahill in support. The lack of lift Onyewu showed when contesting crosses against the Czech Republic will be tested again by Australia.
The other question Coach Bradley will seek to answer on Saturday concerns supporting striker. Unfortunately, Bradley's ability to assess who should be starting along side Jozy Altidore next Saturday was dealt a blow on Thursday, with the 20-year-old forward spraining an ankle in training, making him unlikely to play against Australia. Whereas Robbie Findley's second half performance against Turkey seemed to open an avenue for the Real Salt Lake attacker to start against England, it will be difficult to judge his potential in a partnership with Altidore when Jozy's not on the pitch.
For Australia coach Pim Verbeek, this is also his final chance to assess his team before the Socceroos open their World Cup against Germany next Sunday. Verbeek's biggest question centers around the potential contributions of Harry Kewell, with the Galatasaray attacker yet to feature in Australia's preparation. Kewell only featured in one Gala match between mid-December and the end of the season, coming in at the 86 minute-mark against Istanbul BB on May 1. Despite that appearance, it is unclear that Kewell's groin will allow him to be ready for Germany.
The match will take place in Riumsig Stadium, a 7,000-seat facility in the Roodepoort area of Johannesburg. It will be aired in the U.S. on ESPN2.