Focus this week turns to the United States national team and the race by some key players – three in particular — to make the squad.
One receiving quite a bit of attention is Jermaine Jones, who — believe it or not — has never even played for the US.
Last year, the German based midfielder — who plies his trade with Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga — announced he wanted to play for the Americans.
His father’s from Mississippi and he lived in Greenwood briefly when he was young before moving back to Germany with his mother.
Having previously featured in three friendlies with the Germans, the 28-year-old officially got the green light from FIFA to play for the US last October.
Immediately, talk turned to Jones teaming up with Michael Bradley, who had also played in the Bundesliga and had helped facilitate the first discussions with his dad, who happens to be US coach Bob Bradley.
However, Jones still had a shin fracture to overcome, and as we edge ever closer to the South Africa, he is easing his way back into training, hoping to play for Schalke before the club season ends in May. Watch this space.
Meanwhile, striker Charlie Davies (23), who was involved in a serious car crash which killed another passenger five months ago, has returned to training with Sochaux in France, working on fitness and doing some work with a ball.
He too hopes to play for his club before season’s end in May, overcoming two broken bones in his right leg, a broken and dislocated left elbow, a broken nose, forehead and eye socket, a ruptured bladder and bleeding on the brain.
A third concern is the impressive Stuart Holden, who suffered a broken fibula in the recent friendly against the Netherlands. The Bolton Wanderers midfielder is expected to recover in time for the World Cup, but cannot afford any setbacks.
If the trio can prove their fitness before Bradley announces his 23 man roster in May (he doesn’t have to send his final squad to FIFA until June 1), it will be a great boost to United States ahead of its group games against England (June 12), Slovenia (June 18) and Algeria (June 23).
Incidentally, the time to do it would probably be US’s two send-off games, which are against the Czech Republic on May 25 and Turkey on May 29.