[USA-MEXICO] The countdown to USA-Mexico -- Jurgen Klinsmann's first match as U.S. national team coach -- has begun. Klinsmann held his first practice on Sunday night for early arrivals, and the majority of the team was on hand Monday morning for a light practice at the University of Pennsylvania before they escaped the East Coast heat.
NEVER TOO SOON. Klinsmann's reluctance to face Mexico early in his coaching cycle and his desire to have control over the national team's friendly schedule were believed to be stumbling blocks when negotiations between U.S. Soccer and him broke down in late 2006, but he's happy this time to face Mexico less than two weeks after taking his new job.
“It’s never too soon to play a really good team," he told reporters on Monday. "That’s what you want to do in order to grow, in order to improve your team and give them the best experience possible. If you could play Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, those are the games you want to play. Or go overseas to Europe and play the best you can in order to improve your program. That’s what you’re trying to do.”
MONSIEUR LE CAPITAINE. Captain of the national team under long-time coach Bob Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra captained French club St. Etienne for the opening game of the 2011-12 season, a 2-1 win over Bordeaux. Bocanegra wore the captain's armband because the Verts' regular captain, Loic Perrin, was suspended.
Another European-based defender, Clarence Goodson, was recently granted the captaincy at Danish club Brondby. He has been ruled out of Wednesday's game with a hamstring injury.
WEEKEND UPDATE. Bocanegra and Goodson were among six foreign-based players to see league action over the weekend. The only players who didn't play for their clubs in league play were midfielders Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Jose Torres (Pachuca).
All nine MLS players Klinsmann called in started over the weekend, though goalie Bill Hamid lasted only seven minutes before he was red carded for a foul on Eric Avila outside the penalty area.
'CRYING A LITTLE BIT.' Perhaps the biggest surprise in Klinsmann's first selection was the choice of Hamid as the backup keeper behind Tim Howard. Hamid admitted he was shocked when he got a voice mail from Klinsmann last week.
“As soon as I heard the voice, I knew it was him," the 20-year-old keeper told the Washington Post. "I didn’t listen to the rest of the message. I put the phone down and was like staring into a far-off land. I started crying a little bit.”