The United States will face China in a friendly soccer match Saturday, in the California city of San Jose. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, the game will test both teams in advance of separate regional competitions.
The U.S.-China match, and another two games against U.S. Major League Soccer (football) teams, will help China prepare for the Asian Cup, which starts July 7.
The game will help the United States prepare for the Gold Cup, the regional championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean. The U.S. team is defending champion.
U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller, 37, says Saturday's friendly match is good for veterans like him, and for younger teammates.
"For some players that don't have experience, it's so important for some of those younger players to perform in the friendlies to be given a chance in the games that matter, so for them it's huge," he explained. "Maybe for me, I'm coming off an injury, so for me, it's nice to get a little bit of a game in to make sure everything is going in the right direction, before it matters."
Some top U.S. and Chinese players will miss the match because of commitments to their professional teams, but midfielder Lee Nguyen, 20, who plays for PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands, is one of several new players on the U.S. roster. A star in U.S. national youth leagues, he is new to the senior team.
"It's a great experience to be called up and it's an honor," he said. "So I'm very happy. And I just want to get in and show what I can do."
Upcoming U.S. matches will also be a test for new coach Bob Bradley, who says the U.S. team must maintain momentum through June.
"The ability now to come together as a group, keep ourselves on our toes, have a good way of working together throughout the entire month, I think is important, and certainly the way it works when it comes to World Cups and so that sort of team-building, I think, is the key for this summer," he said.
The Gold Cup will be played in six U.S. cities June 6 through June 24. Then the U.S. team will play as a guest nation in South America's Copa America in Venezuela June 26 through mid-July.
China's team will take on the Los Angeles Galaxy and Colorado Rapids June 5 and June 10 as part of their warmup for the Asian Cup.