Game: United States Men’s National Team vs. Cuba
Date: Friday, Oct. 7
Time: 4:00 PM
Venue: Estadio Pedro Marrero, Havana, Cuba
Television: ESPN2, UniMas
All-time record: 9-1-1
The United States Men’s National Team makes a historic trip to Havana on Friday for a friendly against Cuba. The match is the first of two international friendlies that are the last matches before the USA kicks off The Hex next month against Mexico and Costa Rica. The clash against the Cubans is the first friendly between the two sides since 1947, and the first match between the two sides since diplomatic relations were restored between the two countries in 2015.
What to watch for Cuba
The Cuban national team is largely an unknown to most Americans and the team itself has released little information about who is on the squad. Head coach Raul Mederos said that he planned to establish a strong defense and counterattack at his press conference on Thursday. Mederos is building a young squad and has only one player who plays abroad: Maykel Reyes, who plays for the Cruz Azul developmental team in the second division of Mexico. The young No. 10 will be the focus of the Cubans’ offense and the player to watch out for.
What to watch for the USA
As noted before, Jurgen Klinsmann named a very experienced squad for the set of friendlies, when he could have maybe given opportunities to fringe national team players. Despite his selection, Klinnsman will be looking at a few players to see if they can make an impact, starting with the three young goalkeepers of Ethan Horvath, David Bingham, and William Yarbrough. The match is an opportunity for Sacha Kjlestan to continue making a strong international impression and also for young American Lynden Gooch to earn a cap. If Christian Pulisic appears, he will grab the headlines as the Dortmund-based starlet had an extremely productive September.
What to expect
The match’s historic and diplomatic implications are far more important than whatever happens on the pitch at the Estadio Pedro Marrero. The USA should win fairly comfortably, but it will be important going forward to see if any of the fringe players on the squad can play their way into a Hex call-up. Both countries should share a nice moment together after over 50 years of tension as they connect over a game of football.