U.S. Readies for Cuba

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The United States continues it's quest for a spot at the 2010 World Cup Saturday night (8 p.m., ESPN Classic) in Cuba. No word on if Fidel Castro will attend.

Naturally, the mainstream media have picked up on this story since it's the first time the U.S. has played a game in Cuba since 1947. ESPN has even sent reporter Pedro Gomez to the island of his ancestry. (Too bad his report during the MLS Thursday night match on ESPN2 mentioned nothing about the game itself.) Unsurprisingly, the participants themselves have done their best to stay apolitical and focus on sports.

The U.S. coach Bob Bradley took his usual conservative (think Barry Goldwater) approach to building a roster. Exciting young players like Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu were left with their European clubs, while guys like Kenny Cooper were flatly ignored. What's left is the usual cast of characters -- Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Clint Dempsey, etc.

If you throw out the 9-0 aggregate victory over the haplessly over-matched Barbados, the U.S. hasn't scored a goal in open play since a 3-0 friendly win over Poland in late March. Cuba was beaten 3-1 by T&T in their first game of qualification, so the U.S. should be able to put forth a good performance and hopefully produce some goals.

Thanks to its 1-0 win over Guatemala last month, If the U.S. wins against Cuba and then against Trinidad & Tobago next week in Chicago, they'll have essentially qualified out of their CONCACAF group to the final stage of qualifying.

On the ground in Cuba, SI's Grant Wahl has been blogging like a madman. He's joined by the Washington Post's Steven Goff.

Finally, it'll be interesting to see what kind of shape the field is in after all the Hurricanes that have passed through the Caribbean lately.

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