Washington will host the U.S. men’s national team in its final tuneup before the next set of World Cup qualifiers. Looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Belgium, the Americans face Germany on Sunday at RFK Stadium. The U.S. salvaged four points out of its past two qualifiers and would be on solid footing to qualify for Brazil 2014 with favorable results against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras in June. Prior to that, though, is Sunday’s clash with the powerful Germans. Here are five storylines heading into the match.
1. Celebrating 100: Versatile U.S. veteran DaMarcus Beasley earned his 100th cap in Wednesday’s loss to Belgium. The Americans will be celebrating another kind of 100 on Sunday. The game against Germany is being billed as U.S. Soccer’s Centennial Celebration Match, with the federation commemorating its 100 years of existence. The U.S. is 2-6-0 all-time against Germany, with both wins coming in 1999. D.C. United coach Ben Olsen scored in one of those wins, which came in the FIFA Confederations Cup.
2. Mixed Emotions: For U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the matchup will have added significance. A former member of the German national team, Klinsmann amassed 108 caps and 47 goals, winning the 1990 World Cup. He also coached the Germans from 2004 to 2006. He’ll be facing his former national side — and coaching counterpart and former assistant Joachim Low — as a manager for the first time in his coaching career.
3. German Stars Missing: Because of their late-season club commitments, which included squaring off in a memorable UEFA Champions League final, Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have held on to the majority of their players. Germany’s second-tier team is far from a depleted squad, though, as evidenced by Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Ecuador in Florida. Veteran forwards Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski and rising star Julian Draxler are among the main attractions.
4. Public Training: As has become tradition under Klinsmann, the Americans will host an open training session for the general public, Saturday at 3 p.m. at RFK. Admission and parking in Lot 5 are both free, and fans will get the chance to observe practice while being addressed by Klinsmann and some players.
5. United Heads to Chicago: With the national team occupying RFK, D.C. United goes on the road to play the Chicago Fire on Sunday, looking to avoid extending its MLS winless streak to a would-be franchise-worst 11 games. The club won’t have the services of goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who will remain home to participate with the national team and complement Klinsmann’s other goalkeeping options, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.