The myth of Morocco
Yesterday during the Fire-Dynamo match Waldo was pimping the Send-Off Series, and in so doing repeated one of the most irritating misconceptions about Morocco as an opponent. The Morocco game would be useful, he claimed, because playing an African opponent would help us prepare for Ghana.
I've heard this more than once, and I can't believe people continue to try to sell this line. The mere fact of Morocco's location on the same continent at Ghana doesn't mean squat about their similarities in playing style. Historically and culturally, the two nations have very little in common with one another since they're separated by the Sahara desert. Perhaps if our opponent were Cameroon Waldo's claim would have made more sense, but even then it's not at all clear that teams from proximate countries have similar soccer styles. Can you imagine how lame it would sound if someone said "We're playing a warm-up against France to prepare us for our game against Holland"?
The truth about the Send-Off Series is that these were the best opponents the USSF could come up with under the circumstances. One can safely assume that there wasn't much choice, since most of the top teams are in the WC and it's a rough time for a friendly now that the club season has just ended. Nor are we the only country with a tough time lining up opponents. To take one example, Portugal's pre-World Cup friendlies are against the Cape Verde Islands and Luxembourg. Our SOS looks positively all-star by comparison.
So at the end of the day, the Morocco/Venezuela/Latvia trio may not seem that impressive, but it's not bad either, it'll be good practice, and I'm basically OK with it (except for the choice of venues--still baffled by that). But let's not pull a Waldo and try to make anything more out of the opponents than necessary.