U.S. Soccer has organized send-off or warmup series before every World Cup since 1990. That doesn't mean things have always gone well. Just ask Claudio Reyna
, whose was expected to a star at USA '94 until an injury in the final warm-up sidelined him, Chris Armas, Gregg Vanney
and Cory Gibbs
, whose World Cup dreams were shattered by knee injuries suffered in send-off matches. 1990.
To show how far the national team program has come in the last quarter century, the USA's send-off series before Italia '90 consisted of two matches a month before the
tournament against Malta at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Poland in Hershey, Pa. It would be unimaginable that the USA would play in Hershey today. The games were followed by warmups in
Liechtenstein and Switzerland before the USA headed to its camp in Florence. 1994.
The host USA played 18 games -- count 'em, 18 -- before opening
against Switzerland in the Silverdome. The final game was a 1-0 win over Mexico before 91,123 fans at the Rose Bowl. The game -- which drew the largest crowd until that point for a USA-Mexico game in
the United States -- was marred by a hamstring strain to Claudio Reyna
, who came straight out of the University of Virginia and earned a starting job in
midfield only to miss the entire World Cup because of the nagging injury. 1998.
In a 3-0 win at Austria in April, Steve Sampson
had introduced the 3-6-1 formation with which the USA started France '98, but signs of trouble were evident in the three-game warm-up series that featured a 2-0 win over
Kuwait and 0-0 ties with Macedonia and Scotland. 2002.
The injury jinx hit in full force as Chris Armas
expected to be a key player in midfield, tore his ACL in the 16th minute of the first match of the send-off series against Uruguay. To compound matters, Armas' replacement, Gregg Vanney
, tore his MCL in the next game against Jamaica and was lost for the tournament. To top things off, Steve Cherundolo
replacement, himself was injured in training shortly before the World Cup started and missed the entire tournament. 2006.
The injury jinx hit again in
2006 as Frankie Hejduk
, a veteran of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, had to be scratched a day after the U.S. roster was announcement when a knee injury
originally picked up days earlier in an MLS match flared up. Chris Albright
, one of 13 alternates, took Hejduk's spot on the U.S. roster. In the first warm-up
game against Morocco, another defender, Cory Gibbs
sustained a knee injury and was replaced by Gregg Berhalter
strained his hamstring in the Morocco game but went on to captain the USA in Germany. The lackluster showing against modest opponents in the send-off series -- 1-0 loss to Morocco, 2-0 win over
Venezuela and 1-0 win over Latvia -- was indicative of the trouble to come. 2010. Bob Bradley
's World Cup
roster cuts came after the first of two friendlies, a 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic. Six players who played in the game did not make the final 23. Of the six, just Alejandro Bedoya
came back to make this year's 23.