U.S. World Cup worries grow, draw with Saudis in last tuneup match
LONDON (AP) — An estimated 150,000 American soccer fans will fill the National Football Stadium in London when the Americans take the field in their last tuneup match of a two-team competition at the World Cup.
The England-Belgium match Saturday will mark the end of the tournament for the Americans, who will open it against Belgium in the Netherlands.
The game in England is expected to be a huge crowd-puller for U.S. fans, but a game against Saudi Arabia will also be a big draw for those looking ahead to this summer’s men’s World Cup in the United States.
It is the third game in a U.S.-Saudi Arabia international friendly series that is already drawing heavy crowds and generating excitement, as people are reminded of the global audience for the soccer event in the wake of the killing of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The U.S.-Saudi Arabia match is one of the highest-profile games at the England-Belgium match, which the U.S. Soccer Federation has billed as the finale to this year’s World Cup preparation.
And the Americans, now without injured star goalkeeper Tim Howard, face a tougher test in meeting the reigning Asian Cup champions, who defeated Saudi Arabia in the 2015 Asian Cup final.
“The U.S. Soccer Federation, along with the U.S. teams, are very aware that this match is an important contest for the U.S.,” said Dave Checketts, general manager of the England-Belgium game and the U.S. national team’s head coach.
“It not only is another important game between two very good teams, but it is also a great opportunity for the fans in the national stadium to support their teams as the U.S. plays in their final tuneup match of a World Cup preparation.”
The U.S. team arrived in the U.K. last