- Jason Davis

The US National Team is slated to play a friendly against Egypt - in Cairo - on February 9th. As of this moment, the game is in serious doubt due to widespread anti-government protests in the country. President Hosni Mubarak, in power for the last 30 years, is facing a serious challenge to his continued leadership.

US Soccer says they are monitoring the situation while staying in constant contact with the State Department. In 2009, they faced a similar situation during the presidential crisis in Honduras, when civil unrest hit the Central American country. Despite speculation that that particular match might need to be moved or postponed, it went ahead with little incident (unless you count Grant Wahl getting mugged).

It's difficult to know if this situation is any different than the false alarm of 2009. Egypt's unrest is certainly violent, and playing a soccer match in that environment seems like an odd idea, but there remains enough time for the situation to settle. It may come down to how Mubarak handles pressure to step down and leave the country; should he dig his heels in and remain in Egypt, it's easy to imagine the unrest continuing until it bumps up against the February 6th arrival date. Currently, Mubarak's government is cracking down on protesters, an action that could either exacerbate the unrest or quiet it. The protests seems widespread enough that it would take a major commitment to the use of force for the Egyptian government to put them down. I'm not sure how the rest of the world would respond to such a move, or if the US government would be okay with the national soccer team playing Egypt. 

There is really no reason for US Soccer to commit to cancelling the game yet. The Federation will certainly follow the State Department's lead on the matter, making it unnecessary for them to make a decision a week and a half beforehand. There's a chance that the protests might end as quickly as they began.

From a purely selfish fan standpoint, it would be a pity for the US to lose a game against a quality opponent like Egypt. If the game is cancelled, does US Soccer have a fall back plan to fill the date? If so, and the game became a domestic affair out of necessity, would it dictate a shift in who gets called in to participate (i.e, US-based player v. European-based players). 


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