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U.S. men's soccer team faces Iceland in exhibition at Carson

U.S. men's soccer team faces Iceland in exhibition at Carson
Michael Bradley talks during a press conference before a training session in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 20, 2014. (Julio Cortez / AP)

When the calendar flipped from 2015 to 2016, Michael Bradley did his best to turn the page as well.

"It's the start of a new year," said Bradley, captain of a national soccer team that will kick off 2016 on Sunday against Iceland at the StubHub Center (1 p.m, ESPN2, UniMas, Univision Deportes).

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"A lot of big games ahead of us. [World Cup] qualifying. Copa America. It's exciting."

Exciting would not be the way to describe 2015, which ended with the U.S. winning two of its final eight games, among them a penalty-kick loss to Panama in the Gold Cup consolation game and an overtime loss to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup.

But Bradley said neither he nor his teammates are dwelling on that.

"We're certainly very aware that we let ourselves down in some big moments last year," he said. "That's also sports. You play big games, you play in moments where everything's on the line, one team has to lose.

"That's reality."

Iceland, a Euro 2016 qualifier, will pose a good first test for a reinvigorated U.S. roster that is a mix of senior team veterans preparing for March's World Cup qualifiers with Guatemala and U-23 players readying for a two-leg playoff with Colombia for the final berth in the Summer Olympics. That playoff will also be held in March.

Coach Juergen Klinsmann cautions about reading too much into Sunday's game, because his team has been in camp only 20 days. He wanted to start a week earlier with fitness training, but some veterans objected and the coach backed down.

Meanwhile Iceland opened its winter training camp last month and has already played two games, beating Finland and losing to the United Arab Emirates.

"It's always difficult to kind of put expectations on it because we just started preseason," said Klinsmann, who plans to play 17 players Sunday. "It's difficult now to say, 'This is how it should go.' We are just starting.

"It's not the roster that's going to play in Guatemala. It's not going to be the roster that is going to play the Copa America. But it is a group of players that you want to kind of give a head start and get them going and benefit from it a couple of weeks down the road."

The U.S. finishes its winter camp Feb. 5 with a second StubHub exhibition, this one against Canada.

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