France youngsters look to prove themselves

France’s next generation could get their chance Friday when the

national football team faces the United States in a friendly.

The French have already qualified for next year’s European

Championship, so France coach Laurent Blanc may give some

inexperienced players a chance to shine against the Americans.

”The idea is to give some playing time to either young or

uncapped players who are unproven at the international level,”

Blanc said. ”If the newcomers are to get some playing time, I

think they will get it against the United States. And if they

perform satisfactorily, they may play against Belgium.”

France hosts Belgium next Tuesday, while the United States

travels to Slovenia.

Valencia fullback Jeremy Mathieu, Arsenal center back Laurent

Koscielny, Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons and Montpellier striker

Olivier Giroud are all possible candidates to make their

international debuts on Friday.

”I intend to take my chance,” said Giroud, the top scorer in

the French league. ”There will be of course some pressure, but

hopefully some good pressure, not the one that will inhibit me and

prevent me from playing at my best.”

Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye has made only eight

international appearances and was also aware of the importance of

those friendlies.

”It will be important to optimize every minute that we will

spend on the pitch so that we score points and do anything to be in

the squad for the European Championship,” Cabaye said.

France has played the United States only twice, winning 6-0 in

East Rutherford, New Jersey, in May 1979 and 3-0 in Paris five

months later.

But much has changed since then. The Americans reached the

second round at last year’s World Cup while France was eliminated

in the group stage following a player strike.

”It’s a team which is improving and which is very motivated to

get a good result against us,” France winger Florent Malouda said,

”because that would give them a bit more value and recognition on

the international stage.”

Jurgen Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as the United States coach

in July and has been trying to implement a more-attacking style of


”We have started to build a foundation on our playing style,

and every time we are together the team gets a more precise picture

of how I want to see things done on the field,” Klinsmann said.

”We want to continue to progress so we are able to challenge teams

like France, who have earned their place as one of the top 15 teams

in the world.”

France, which is unbeaten in its last 15 matches, is 15th in the

FIFA world rankings, while the United States has slipped to


”There’s still this desire to stretch this unbeaten run that

helps us add up a lot of confidence,” France midfielder Alou

Diarra said.

In his first coaching job, Klinsmann led Germany to a

third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup. But so far, the Americans

have lost three matches and earned a draw and a victory under

Klinsmann, who is experimenting with players and formations before

the start of World Cup qualifying in June.

”We get to play the former world champions in a wonderful

stadium that hosted the World Cup final, so it’s a great honor and

we are certainly looking forward to it,” United States defender

Clarence Goodson said.

The United States is going through a rebuilding phase. Of the 21

players who made the squad for the November friendlies, six are

young enough to be eligible for the Under-23 team and only 11 were

at the World Cup in South Africa.

German-born defender Alfredo Morales could make his national

team debut for the Americans.