U.S. Soccer Team Starts New Era in San Diego

Returning coach and fresh roster make for interesting friendly at The Q

This has been kind of a big week for soccer in San Diego.

On Monday a proposal for a new Major League Soccer stadium in Mission Valley was floated. This coming Monday the official proposal will be made to MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

And on Sunday the U.S. Men's National team will play its first game of 2017 in the spot where the new facility would eventually go.

Qualcomm Stadium is the site of a friendly between the USA and Serbia. This is the first of 2 warm-ups Team America will have as they prepare for the final round of qualifiers for next year's World Cup. Those matches take place in March.

Interestingly, all but one of the players on the roster for the next two games come from Major League Soccer. Veteran DaMarcus Beasley is the lone exception. The official World Cup roster will combine Major League Soccer players and guys who are on international clubs.

Sunday’s game against Serbia is also the first game back for head coach Bruce Arena. He was the National Team coach until 2006 so it has been 11 years since he's worn the stars and stripes and you bet the state of soccer in America has changed quite a bit in that time.

“The National Team is much more recognized,” said Arena on Saturday. “The sport on a professional level has grown. The players are more experienced. We’re beginning to see somewhat of a culture that you see elsewhere around the world where there’s a little bit of pressure on the team to be successful.”

Although it is far from being a world power the U.S. has reached the knockout rounds in the last two World Cups. Now American soccer fans are starting to expect the team to take a step beyond that. But first they have to make sure they get in to the tournament.

“The goal of our National Team every four years is qualify for a World Cup so there’s pressure on this team to do that again,” said Arena.

The next step on that quest will be a match on March 24 against Honduras, followed by another four days later in Panama.

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