World Cup Preview : U!S!A!

The World Cup opens tomorrow and I will be covering and recapping every game at SportsLeft, starting Friday morning at 9 with the opening match South Africa v. Mexico. But today, I want to discuss our boys, the US team and their chances in the 2010 edition of the World Cup.

The Key Players. You will hear a lot about Landon Donovan ("Donovan is the key to success or failure for the U.S. in South Africa"), arguably the best player the US has ever produced, and Jozy Altidore,the new hope. But for my money, how far the US goes in the World Cup will depend on Clint Dempsey, the most instinctive scorer on the team. More . . .

The likely starting side for the US will include Tim Howard in goal (who plays in the English Premier League), an apparently now healthy Oguchi Onyewu, who is a terrific center back and member of Inter Milan. The rest of the US defenders - Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathn Spector, Jonathan Bornstein et al are simply not very good imo.

The midfield is the strength of the team, with Donovan (who plays for the Galaxy but had a great run with Everton of the English Premier League in January), Dempsey (a star for Fulham in the Premier League), the coach's (Bob Bradley) son, Michael Bradley, and Stuart Holden are the starting four in midfield.

Bradley will almost certainly use a 4-4-2 set up with Donovan and Dempsey expected to move forward a lot. For the 3 forwards, it appears that Bradley will go with Altidore and Robbie Findlay. I hope we see a lot of Hercules Gomez, leading the Mexican League in scoring, and Edson Buddle, who leads the MLS in scoring. I firmly believe in "hot" scorers. The US has no Christiano Rinaldo or up top strikers of the old school, Gerd Muller type - so I hope Bradley is willing to play the hot hands up front.

The US is is Group C, with pre-tournament favorite England, Algeria and Slovenia. 2 teams will go through from the group, and the US is the second choice. Then again, the US was expected to go through to the second round in 2006 and did not. And in 2002, it was not expected to advance but made it to the quarterfinals (and should have won the match over Germany). So "expectations do not mean much for the US.

We'll have a better idea what to expect from the team when we see how the look against England on Saturday, June 12.

Look for a preview of Friday's games - South Africa v. Mexico and Uruguay v. France later tonight at Sports Left.

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    Isn't the South Africa/Mexico game (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:18:40 PM EST
    Friday, June 11, at 7 a.m. PST?  (Got to get this right, as I am picking up tutoree and driving him to school so he can watch this game at home.)

    Also, it World Cup like World Baseball Classic as to which country's team a player chooses to play for?  

    You are correct (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:48:41 PM EST
    This was supposed to run tomorrow.

    But my group stuff is not done so I used my USA preview first.


    the difference between (none / 0) (#4)
    by CST on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:31:27 PM EST
    the World Cup and WBC is that on a professional level the players are not mostly in one or two countries (U.S. and Japan) they are spread fo the most part throughout Europe.

    Although if you have dual citizenship or parents from another country I believe you can choose which country to play for.  But once you've played in 1 professional game with that country you can never switch.  Not sure exactly how baseball works.

    And I believe the game is 9:45 AM EST which works out to I think 6:45 PT

    Here's a brief match preview if you want to brush up.


    Dempsey is the key... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:23:26 PM EST
    I agree...he's our best playmaker with the sweetest feet, and we'll go as far as the plays he can make.  I think he's looking to really shine in this Cup, and has played big in most big games past.

    Worried about Gooch's knee, he's gotta be at or close to 100% to pound on opposing forwards...if he's not it could get ugly.

    Also think we've got a much better coach this go 'round...I like Bradley and I think he's got us ready to advance and then who knows what can happen if the boys are clicking.

    Im a hard core Brazil (none / 0) (#7)
    by jondee on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:36:11 PM EST
    fan. For purely sentimental, aesthetic reasons, since the "samba football" days of the mid-late sixties..when some teams, as a point of pride, spirit and creativity, believed that being up 1-0 meant it was time to go up 2 or 3-0 and not to retreat into a circle-the-wagons protective shell..

    Plus, my daughter was born on Pele's birthday. So sue me.

    Pe3le's favorite player, George "I spent all my money on birds and drink, the rest I just pissed away" Best is STILL the maestro though..Even though Northern Ireland never made it beyond the first or second round.


    You do have to admire... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:53:19 PM EST
    the Brazilian style...where winning isn't enough, you must do it with style and beauty!  Unlike say the Germans, who are happy to win ugly and brutish.

    I just don't do favorites...futbol is about the only place left where the USA is the underdog...and I cherish the role.  Lets go slay some Goliaths!


    I hear (none / 0) (#12)
    by CST on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:00:17 PM EST
    the new Brazilian coach is actually getting some flack for running away from that "style" in order to be better at defense.  Verdict still out - although I imagine this World Cup will tell the tale one way or another.

    I remember reading something.. (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:13:13 PM EST
    to that effect, very controversial move down Brazil way.

    Though the biggest question mark at coach has gotta be Maradona and the Argentines...many head scratching moves, and coachina a style they say will hamper the consensus world's best player, Messi.  


    Quick story (none / 0) (#18)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:33:00 PM EST
    Participated, briefly and lamely, in a game of footvolley with Miradona and a couple others in South Beach Miami about 10 years ago or so. He's a surprisingly short guy...

    Another one? (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:41:06 PM EST
    One day we need to play 7 degrees of sarc:)  Salma, the Feat, Miradona...the list goes on!

    I'll let you know if we end up hanging out...

    Oh, and, as I never really played soccer (none / 0) (#24)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 04:04:06 PM EST
    nor followed it much, I didn't know who Miradona was until someone told me.

    A small bunch of us tourists who happened to be hanging on the beach in front of the Marriott got to briefly rotate into the game as some guys from a local TV news taped it.

    I just remember him being shorter than me (I'm 5-8) with big strong stumps for legs...


    Cool story none the less... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 04:49:33 PM EST
    low center of gravity is a plus in soccer...lots of great short players.

    Never much of a soccer player as a kid myself...got into it a little as an adult...lots of running, which is my forte, but I got no boot...the ball control with these guys is insane...like when I see those dudes playing volleyball solely with their feet...with sets and spikes and sh*t.  Crazy skills.

    Didn't stop me and an old roomate for trying out for the now defunct Miami Fusion in MLS....the only attention I drew from the scouts were the cigs I was smoking waiting for my turn to scrimmage...but I don't think I embarassed myself out there, which was the sole goal.


    I'll bet the scouts still remember you! (none / 0) (#28)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 05:13:41 PM EST
    In some parts (none / 0) (#25)
    by jondee on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 04:08:05 PM EST
    of the world, that's like playing footvolley with God..

    South Beach being one of the few places where Maradona could actually enjoy some anonymity.


    Did he let you ... talk to The Hand? (none / 0) (#30)
    by Ellie on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 08:36:28 AM EST
    It seems to be the trend everywhere (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:14:13 PM EST
    unfortunately. The world adopting the Republican Party's motto: "Better to win ugly than not at all."

    Dog eat dog, and the devil take the hindmost.

    It still can be a beautiful game though, and that green still comes up sometimes even if it has to break through concrete. Chivalry is never completely dead.


    Not dead... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:20:38 PM EST
    see CST's CNN link and the last time we played Iran...classy all around.

    I don't really get it (none / 0) (#16)
    by CST on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:25:30 PM EST
    with respect to Brazil - sure they didn't do great last time, but they are the winningest team ever - so that "style's" been working pretty well for them.

    Honestly, I don't have a problem with winning ugly either, if that's your game.  I grew up playing under the U.S. and later German system and really enjoyed being the "power" in the back just busting up plays and playing hardball, then building an offense from there.  I can see why that might not be as fun to watch.  But it sure is fun to do :P


    Lets not kid ourselves though, (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by jondee on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:36:27 PM EST
    Germany has had her great, creative, goal creators and scorers in the past: people like Beckenbauer, Muller and Karl Heinz Rummenigge.

    They haven't all always been purely calculating, methodical, drudges out there, just waiting for the other side to make a mistake..  


    actually (none / 0) (#21)
    by CST on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:50:21 PM EST
    I found the German system in general to be a much faster game than in the U.S. - much more quick, short passing - which leads itself towards more explosive play as well.  Certainly not waiting for anything.  Whereas the U.S. was much slower and methodical.

    Although again, this is just on a much lower level of play.  But I do think that level lends itself towards the development of a national "style".  Watching Brazilians play soccer on that level you can definitely see it there as well.


    Funny how you really (none / 0) (#22)
    by jondee on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:58:15 PM EST
    have to have played a little to really realize how good those guys are..

    Sometimes I feel like a drummer in a high school garage band watching Buddy Rich at his peak take a solo..


    I'm hard core Brasil fan too (none / 0) (#26)
    by Jen M on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 04:13:27 PM EST
    Hard not to be, having grown up there, and actually got to see Pele play before he 'retired' to the US.

    Futbol  (fuchibawl) permeates society from high to low. There are a huge number of variations. For instance all basketball courts have double markings, one for basketball and the other for various forms of court futball.  I had a hard time getting used to the rather plain basketball courts here.


    I wonder how the (none / 0) (#3)
    by me only on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:29:37 PM EST
    All Whites will fare in South Africa.

    reprint from other thread (none / 0) (#5)
    by CST on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:32:54 PM EST
    but I thought this was an interesting article on politics and soccer history.

    The world cup is really the closest thing to the olympics in this regard.

    Cool stuff... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:38:16 PM EST
    I'd go so far as to say the World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, dwarfing even the Olympics in popularity and social/political signifigance.

    And then, there's (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:33:50 PM EST

    After four years of anticipation and endless hours of training, soccer players from 32 countries are doing everything they can to play their best at the World Cup. Among their last-minute preparations in South Africa, the athletes are eating well and sleeping enough. They might also be abstaining from sex -- or not.

    Offense is over-rated (none / 0) (#9)
    by CST on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:43:41 PM EST
    says this former goalie/defender/sometimes midfielder :)

    Tim Howard is significantly better than the English keeper and may help make up for the terrible D.

    That being said, I will grant you, there is something to be said for those who can score.  Especially in a game where 1 or 2 goals can make all the difference in the world.

    That's what's great about soccer, conventional wisdom only gets you so far, and anything can happen in those 90 minutes - the team that should win is not always the team that does win.

    The US vs. England... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 02:28:44 PM EST
    trash-talk and friendly wagers have begun between embassies.


    I so hope the English eat these words instead of a free steak...and the tab.

    "The Ambassador takes his steak like American soccer victories - somewhat rare."

    Wrong Milan (none / 0) (#29)
    by JDB on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 08:35:20 PM EST
    Gooch is on the roster with AC Milan, not their cross-town rivals (and Euro champs) Inter.  And while I agree he's the class of our back line, that presumes he's healthy.  Is he so much better than Demerit and Goodson that he starts Saturday if he's not 100%?  I dunno.

    Where the Smart Money is this WC (none / 0) (#31)
    by Ellie on Thu Jun 10, 2010 at 11:10:33 AM EST
    Riotous 24/7 mayhem shaking vastly Multi-Ethnic and Multi-National neighborhood when Ancestral Ties (many many) obliterate the usual comity?

    Already feeling the swoon.

    Wacky World Cup bets get punters going by Robin Millard, AFP/Sidney Morning Herald June 10, 2010

    [...] British bookmakers -- who are predicting they will handle a record-breaking one billion pounds (1.2 billion euros, 1.4 billion dollars) on the tournament -- are taking bets on all manner of bizarre events in South Africa.

    Of course, bets will be placed on who will win the tournament, with Spain the favourites.

    But others want to put their money on who will get sent off first, who will commit the most fouls and who volatile Argentina manager Diego Maradona will insult first.

    The tournament gets underway on Friday when hosts South Africa take on Mexico.

    But what will be the first goal celebration?

    A badge kiss is the 5/2 favourite, followed by somersaults at 4/1, taking the shirt off at 9/2, a prayer to God at 7/1, then "stand there and do nothing" at 9/1.

    "The Robbie Fowler: sniffing the white line" is the outsider at 150/1, according to Paddy Power.

    Which team will be the first to celebrate by revealing a Jesus Christ t-shirt?

    Brazil are the favourites at 15/2, followed by Italy and Argentina at 9/1 then Spain at 12/1. North Korea are the outsiders at 1,000/1.

    Spain's David Villa at 9/2 is the favourite to be the first player to bless himself after scoring a goal in Durban's Moses Mabhida stadium, followed by team-mate Fernando Torres.

    However, the bets are also on for when football gets a little more unholy. [... more ...]

    Husb's already removing all the Brazil nuts from the snack mixes so as not to set off the extended fam. (Gotta love that Scottish half; it really comes through in the crunch.)