FIFA World Cup Prospectus: United States
Football.com will countdown the remaining time leading up to the World Cup with a 32-day preview of each team that will be participating. For those of you who want to know each team inside and out, the 32-Day 2014 FIFA World Cup Prospectus is the World Cup preview.
Group D: Uruguay
Group H: Russia
The United States men’s national team is back in the World Cup hoping to improve on their round of 16 exit in 2010. The Yanks usually are early exits or survive only to fall short in the knockout stage. This year, under new coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the USA looks to be serious competitors in what has been labeled “The Group Of Death.”
Nickname: The Yanks
FIFA Ranking: 14
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1934, 1950, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010
How Did They Qualify: Group leaders in CONCACAF hexagonal
What Group Are They In: Group G
Opponents (Match Dates): Ghana (6/16) Portugal (6/22) Germany (6/26)
Projected Finish In Group G: 3rd
Why They Will Finish 3rd In Group G:
America got the short end of the seeding stick. The Yanks are going up against two top three teams in Portugal and Germany. In addition, Ghana has always been a stumbling block for USA and this year may be no different. Klinsmann faces an uphill battle with the squad.
Keeper: Tim Howard and Nick Rimando highlight a well-established group of keepers. Howard has a good deal of international and World Cup experience. Rimando is a well-seasoned veteran who is very well skilled at his craft who will make even Cristiano Ronaldo work hard for his goals. Rimando is also close to breaking the MLS shut out record.
Defense: This part of the team worries me. While the defense is good by most standards, I don't know how they will fare in the group of death. Matt Besler is labeled as a de facto starter. Klinsmann is going to be shuffling defenders around in the warm-up games. Seasoned vet DeMarcus Beasly is favored to make a start at fullback.
Many people were excited when Seattle Sounders' defender DeAndre Yedlin was selected. While Yedlin has quickness, he is caught out of position a lot. Getting out of position around Ronaldo is often a guaranteed goal for Portugal. All in all this squad is going to make the goalkeeper a busy man.
Midfield: I have mixed feelings about the strength of this group. Michael Bradley is one of the best attacking midfielders in the game today. Kyle Beckerman and Graham Zusi are also dynamic midfielders who will help in their own ways. Zusi is a great distributor while Beckerman is a great defensive midfielder, each role will be important in Brazil.
This group, combined with Jermaine Jones, is a good group who can make opportunities for the forwards. That said, while this is a good group, it's hard for me to rate them spectacular. I think they are good enough to keep the USA in the games.
Forwards: Four forwards have been called up including Sounders' ace Clint Dempsey and national team standout Jozy Altidore. The forwards called up are all very skilled and two are very well seasoned. I like this group and pose a dangerous threat, although there are a few questions that linger.
Altidore's last season in Sunderland was not something that gives hope for success in the World Cup. His time at Sunderland displayed either an atrocious run of form or just failure to fall into the scheme. With the group of death staring down this team, they will need Altidore on his game.
My other questions remain with Chris Wondolowski. While he has been a great factor thus far, can we expect him to keep this run of form? Will he still cause problems for defenders once in Brazil? Wondo has a lot to prove and may need to play a pivotal role for them to win.
Coaching: Jurgan Klinsmann is a very talented coach with a wealth of experience. Klinsmann managed the German team during the 1996 World Cup. While a great coach, he ruffled a few feathers by leaving Landon Donovan off of the 23-man roster. Granted, I was all for Donovan not making the starting 23.
Klinsmann gives this crew the best chance to win. Although he faces an extreme uphill battle in his first World Cup with the Yanks, it'll be up to the former Germany international to make a statement about his leadership by making it out of Group G
How can they win the World Cup:
Their best chance is opening up with their dynamic offense. Zusi and Bradley are going to have to open up and constantly threaten the while on the ball. They will have to claw their way from Group G and likely make their way through the knockout round by outscoring their opponents. Having snipers like Wondo and Dempsey will help that effort.
What can go wrong:
Everything. Most analysts are predicting the United States to fall short and not make it out of the group stages. I have talked about Germany and Portugal a lot, but Ghana has been the Achilles heel of the U.S. for many years now. Ghana has surprised many and put in great performances. The Yanks defense could also lose their team matches if they’re unable to stop opposing strikers from running wild.
I am not sure what I think of the uniforms. Part of me thinks the design is a good use of the national colors. The other half of me thinks these are just plain ugly. I guess it could be worse, but still the striped design is not exactly easy on the eyes. I still like last year’s kit better, but I'm sure these will grow on me.
What's there to like about the United States:
The U.S. is a great place to visit if you are interested in seeing a mix of cultures in one place. America's cities have great ethnic quarters and a lot of food places that are inspired by other countries. From Russian quarters to Chinatown, America is a great place to learn about other cultures.
In addition, the United States has great architecture and landmarks to visit. Places like the Statue of Liberty and the St. Louis Arch are great tourist attractions. In addition, there are the beautiful countryside of places like Yellowstone National Park and the rocky coasts of New England.