The greatest month of every fourth year has arrived, and most soccer fans have been counting down the days till June 11 since the ball dropped to bring in the New Year.
All die hard soccer fans will be waking up a little earlier than usual after a night out at Library or Devaneys. They will witness miraculous goals by Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, beautiful passes by Kaka, Wesley Sneijder and amazing saves by Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas.
Video from opening game.
For those of you who take a leisure approach to the World Cup, you may tune in to a few afternoon games but will definitely be watching three, hopefully more, games during the next month.
I’m speaking of course of the United States National Team’s games over the next month. The first starts this Saturday, June 12 vs. England at 2:30 p.m., the second is next Friday, June 18 vs. Slovenia at 10 a.m., and the third is the following Wednesday, June 23 vs. Algeria at 10 a.m. This is the American’s easiest World Cup draw ever and they look to capitalize to advance to the next round.
I will now break down the Keys to our Americans playing their best brand of soccer in order for the “Leisure Fans” to enjoy more time watching “The Beautiful Game”.
Keys for the United States
1) The “Injury Bug” will not affect the United States
The “Injury Bug” has been spreading through the American squad over the past year and is still with lingering a day before their first game vs. England. It all started with the unfortunate car accident to Forward Charlie Davies, and spread to Defender Oguchi Onyewu, Midfielder Clint Dempsey, and Forward Jozy Altidore. Dempsey has fully recovered but there are still questions surrounding the injuries to Onyewu and Altidore. The injury to Onyewu is by far the most important because almost every team who does well at the World Cup has a cohesive defense. If Onyewu is out of sync and is unable to perform like his teammates are accustomed to, it may lead to unfortunate goals against the United States. Altidore’s injury is less serious and although the list of quality American strikers is thin, his absence will not be devastating.
2) Landon Donovan will silence his critics and prove he is a world class player
Throughout Landon Donovan’s career, the American has been criticized for failing to make an impact in important games for the U.S., failing to be able to survive in world class leagues (Sorry MLS), or for being afraid to take another chance overseas. Over the past year Donovan has proved two out of three notches against him during his successful stint with the English Premier League club Everton. Donovan is the motor for the United States team and the United States will go as far as they can as long as he’s playing at his highest level. He creates most of the United States goals from right midfield with his pace and passing abilities and can’t afford to go missing in either of the United States group play games. I was one of those critics before this year but the maturation and the talent I’ve seen by Donovan this year has made me a believer and has me excited to see him succeed.
3) Coach Bob Bradley will put the best lineup together for each game
Coach Bradley has been infamous for playing favorites since taking over the head coaching position for the Americans and may affect our hopes if he continues this trend. Bradley rarely seems to put the most popular lineup together when it comes time for each game. Ricardo Clark is another favorite on Coach Bradley’s squad and has some abilities that help the United States team but his poor passing and touch are of concern. Maurice Edu is a better version of Clark, who both play Defensive Midfielder, and Jose Francisco Torres brings a creative and different style of play to the team. Clark will probably start the first game but he should be subbed out as soon as possible if he plays as poorly as he has. Then there comes to this year’s version of Jeff Agoos, Defender Jonathan Bornstein. Bornstein has been used and abused by Forwards, sports writers and fans all over the world. He does not deserve to play for this team but time and time again Bradley puts him into the game. Fans will cringe, as will I, if I see him on the field because he will only hurt the United States.
Players to Watch
- Donovan– He is our star and hopefully he plays like it.
- Dempsey– This Texan marches to his own beat but in order to be successful he must play together with his teammates and show his unbelievable talent.
- Altidore– If healthy, this may be his breakthrough as a young player to prove his raw striking ability.
- Goal Keeper Tim Howard– Oliver Kahn, Brad Friedel, Gianluigi Buffon… Tim Howard? In order for the U.S. to go far in the World Cup he must be able to be mentioned in the same sentence as those legendary goalies.
- Forward Hercules Gomez- This is my dark horse for the tournament. Not the most talented but knows how to score. He may be given a chance late in the game to break a tie with a much needed goal.
This tournament can go either way, we will either both focus on the less important game against England and fail to play our best vs. Slovenia and Algeria or we shock the rest of the world and make a run through this tournament. As an American fan I’m voting for the latter.
The United States will tie England 1-1, Beat Slovenia 1-0, and Beat Algeria 3-1. They will finish second in group play and play Germany in the Knockout round and avenge their controversial exit from the 2002 World Cup, shocking the rest of the world and all Oktoberfest participants. The Americans will then face Argentina in the quarterfinals where they will put up a valiant effort but fall short in their goal to hoist the Cup.
I may be optimistic but that’s what being a World Cup fan is all about. You have all the hope in the world that your country will be the one to hoist the Cup and send all their fans into frenzy. One Trophy, One Dream, enjoy this entire month World Cup fans and for you “Leisure Fans” enjoy each United States game and cheer them on to a victory.