For the U.S. Men’s National Team, another camp in the books meant another 10 days for a group of players to come together and go to work in both training, and against opponents like Denmark and Switzerland.
Alejandro Bedoya, a veteran of these camps, knows how important they are.
“The last 10 days have been what I think we set out for them to be, which is, we tried to come in and get better and at the same time involve these younger guys and get them more experience and understanding of what it takes to play for the National Team on the international scene,” said Bedoya. “We were able to work on different formations with players in different positions, and that can only be better for our game and continued development.”
The camp allowed some of the veterans, like Bedoya, to gain experience with the newer faces. Two of those were goalkeeper William Yarbrough and center back Ventura Alvarado, who both earned their first cap with the U.S. MNT during this camp.
“I feel like the National Team, at the moment, is a lot younger than it maybe was before,” said Bedoya.
“I think being together for 10 days here in Europe; it allowed us to integrate ourselves more with each other not only on the field, but off the field as well. That translates to our performances. We were able to have different options, different formations, different looks and play alongside different players. For the new guys coming up and getting chances, this is going to give them experience and give them more confidence and motivation moving forward.”
Despite the tough 2-3 loss to Denmark on March 25, holding off No. 12-ranked Switzerland to a 1-1 draw while playing with 10 men in the last 22 minutes on March 31, was a valuable opportunity that gave players the chance for performances they can build on.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating to lose like we did against Denmark where we had the lead twice, but there are many positives to take from that game as we continue to work on our high pressure and different elements. With the result against Switzerland, which is a really good side, I think we put in a great effort all around. I think we outplayed them in the first half, and then in the second half, with the circumstances and playing a man down, it made it a lot tougher, but I think the effort was there and there were definitely some bright spots that we can take forward.”
Ultimately, the time spent on the training pitch and playing two games against quality European teams on the road over the past 10 days will only help the team as it continues preparation for the 2015 Gold Cup.
“[The Gold Cup] is the ultimate goal, and these friendlies allow us to tinker around and play with different things, whether it’s players taking different responsibilities or trying out different formations, to seeing who steps up, and what works and what doesn’t,” said Bedoya. “That what these friendlies are for, and that’s more important than results. The results are going to matter when the Gold Cup comes around, and hopefully all these games that we’ve played, we’ll serve us as the right preparation for the summer.”