With just three weeks left until the start of the World Cup, the U.S. soccer team finally will get to see most of its regular starters together in Sunday's exhibition game against Kuwait.
Midfielders Claudio Reyna and Ernie Stewart are expected to play after missing last weekend's scoreless tie against Macedonia. Eric Wynalda may play for the first time since arthroscopic knee surgery last month, but he won't go the entire game.Frankie Hejduk, however, is still out. He may be a starting outside midfielder when the Americans open the World Cup against Germany on June 15 at Paris.
"This game against Kuwait is very important," U.S. coach Steve Sampson said. "We made great strides against Macedonia, even though it wasn't the result we wanted."
Defender David Regis, sworn in as an American citizen on Wednesday, won't start but will play about a half. He probably will get the lone open spot on the 22-man roster.
Sampson also is considering dropping No. 3 goalkeeper Juer-gen Sommer and adding forward Roy Lassiter of D.C. United. He may not make a decision until after the Americans play Scotland next weekend in their final game before leaving for France.
"Steve gets to change his mind right up until the end, so everybody's just trying to do their best and make this team," midfielder Cobi Jones said.
Sampson has shown he's not afraid to shake up the roster. First he cut team captain John Harkes. Then he brought in Regis in the final weeks before the tournament.
"We want the best team to play in the World Cup, not the best individuals," Sampson said.
When Regis, a former Frenchman who was born in Martinique, returned Wednesday night from his citizenship test in Los Angeles, teammates serenaded him with "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"The guys wouldn't do that if they didn't feel he was welcome," said Sampson, who later presented Regis with an American flag.
Sampson will continue to use his unusual formation of three defenders, six midfielders and one forward.
"A lot of people think because we play one striker, we're defensive-minded. That's not true," Sampson said. "In the (Macedonia) game, we had eight to 10 good opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net. So the system is working."
The United States is playing Kuwait, which failed to qualify for the World Cup, because of its experience in playing Iran, the second opponent the Americans face in the first round.
The U.S. team walked onto the Civic Stadium field for the first time Saturday for a brief workout, checking out the newly laid sod.