US using send-off finale as tune-up for Ghana

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 6, 2014 at 5:46 pm •  Published: June 6, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. soccer team is hoping one African club will teach them a thing or two about another.

The Americans will use their final send-off series game against Nigeria on Saturday night to get better prepared for their World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann called Nigeria a team "that will really give us a lot of answers to many of your questions."

The U.S. will use the friendly at EverBank Field to settle its World Cup lineup and maybe quell concerns about its sometimes shaky defense. More importantly, it will provide the Americans with a glimpse of what they will face against Ghana in Brazil.

"Tactically, they're very similar to Ghana, and we're going out there to try to understand what an African team is all about, how they use their speed, their power, their skills," defender Geoff Cameron said Friday.

Klinsmann broke down the matchup in greater detail, saying Nigeria and Ghana plays similar, fast and physical styles and have equally dangerous strikers.

"They counter-break you very fast in transition defensively, they're fit, they're very physical, which is good for us because it will give us a little bit of a wake-up call now because this is what, at this point, now we really need," Klinsmann said. "Gives us a little bit of indication of how to approach Ghana, how to beat Ghana, which is so crucial for us to start the World Cup with."

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi even acknowledged that playing his team, which features talented forwards Victor Moses and Peter Odemwingie, could benefit the U.S. down the road.

"I think Nigeria, Ghana, we play similar football," Keshi said. "I think it's going to be a good thing for the United States. The fact that they have Ghana in their group, I think they should be able to capitalize on that and make use of the best out of it."

Nigeria is coming off consecutive draws, a 2-2 tie against Scotland last week and a scoreless one against Greece on Tuesday.

The U.S., meanwhile, beat No. 85 Azerbaijan 2-0 in San Francisco last week and topped No. 39 Turkey 2-1 in New Jersey on Sunday. The 18th-ranked Americans have spent much of the week working out in Florida's sweltering heat and humid while getting ready for the 44th-ranked Super Eagles.