Looking at the list of teams we're playing this time around in prep for the World Cup gives me pause. On the one hand, in the two games right before the World Cup, we're facing tougher teams than we ever have before. On the other hand, we're not facing nearly as many teams. '98: Gold Cup: Cuba, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico Friendlies: Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Paraguay, Austria, Final Trio: Macedonia, Kuwait, Scotland TOTAL GAMES: 12 '02: Gold Cup: South Korea, Cuba, El Salvador, Canada, Costa Rica Friendlies: Italy, Honduras, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Ireland Final Trio: Uruguay, Jamaica, Netherlands TOTAL GAMES: 14 '06: Friendlies: Canada, Norway, Japan, Guatemala, Poland, Germany, Jamaica Final Trio: Morocco, Venezuela, Latvia TOTAL GAMES: 10 This time: Friendlies: Honduras, El Salvador, Netherlands Final Duo/Trio: Turkey, Czech Republic (maybe Ireland) TOTAL GAMES: 5 or 6 I'm not suggesting that there's any correlation between the number of friendlies and how well we do. And if you remove the Gold Cup games from '98 and '02 you get 8 and 9 games respectively. I'm also not entirely sure this is a problem, but I do think that this is at least partly a result of us having more of our top players in Europe. However, it could also be a result of Bradley having seen enough of all the players over the past three years. In the past, we've seen some (needed) talent 'discovered' in the last few games leading up to the Cup. At this point for this cycle, though, it seems like that's not going to happen, and may not need to, despite all the injuries. I haven't looked to see how this compares to other national teams. And I'm not sure how much it matters. But I thought it was an interesting point, and might merit further discussion/analysis.