Now that the FIFA World Cup is officially underway I wanted to look at the United States chances of making a run at the World Cup title.
FIFA World Cup 101
For those who don’t know much about the World Cup here are the basics. The World Cup is played every four years in different countries. The host country is chosen by a vote of the FIFA governing body similar to the process that determines the location of the Superbowl.
FIFA stands for Federation International Football Association and was created in 1904. FIFA boasts a membership of 209 nations and is based out of Zurich, Switzerland. In order to determine which teams participate in the tournament, there is a regional qualifying process that starts a few years before the World Cup itself.
The World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event on the planet. Competitors are vying for a chance at national pride, money, and the lore of being adorned forever more while other countries consider themselves lucky just to qualify for the World Cup.
The FIFA World Cup tournament pits country against country in a thirty-two team competition broken down into eight groups of four teams. Each team plays the other three teams in their group once. Winners get three points a tie results in one point for each and a loss gets you zero points or nil. At the end of group play the top two teams from each group will be in knockout single elimination tournament.
Group Of Death
The USA soccer team is in the group known as the group of death. Every World Cup it is always a group that has on paper the toughest competition. The group that has the toughest competition is known as the group of death. With Germany ranked #2, Portugal ranked #4, and Ghana who has put the USA out of the last two World Cups making it into the knockout stage is no small feat.
The USA starts World Cup play against Ghana on June 16, 2014. Then the USA continues its quest against Portugal on June 22, 2014 with the group stage finale against Germany on June 26, 2014.
Team USA Strentghs And Weaknesses
The USA strengths are its elite goal keeping, very good strikers, and above average midfield. Tim Howard and Brad Guzan both play at the highest level in the English Premier League and are recognized as top goal keepers for their respective clubs. Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore can be great strikers for the USA but it will hinge on whether Altidore can score so goals to keep pressure off of Dempsey.
In the final tune up Altidore scored two goals breaking his streak of close to 2,000 minutes played without a goal scoring in a tune up win for the USA against Nigeria. For Altidore it is not a question of talent it’s a question of confidence.
The midfield is hit or miss and midfielder Michael Bradley is one of the most important players on the USA squad. Bradley’s ball placement, savvy, understanding are unquestionable even to the novice soccer fans. Beckerman, Jones, and Zusi normal set the tone for the defense.
One of the concerns for the United States is turnovers in the midfield. During tune up games, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Bradley, and Graham Zusi turned the ball over in the midfield. Midfield precision is key and without it the team leaves themselves open to scoring chances. Jones, Beckerman, Bradley, and Zusi are usually very sure-footed but one turnover in the World Cup can lead to you losing that game.
Beyond the midfield the defenders may be of biggest concern for US Soccer fans. They have had lapses in judgment but have been bailed out by exceptional goal keeping. Injuries and personnel changes have affected the chemistry on the defense. However combination of Beasley, Besler, Cameron, and Johnson seem to have good chemistry that is constantly improving which will be important when the US starts World Cup matches.
It’s going to be a fun ten days.The Untied States plays their first FIFA World Cup match in group play on June 16, 2014 against Ghana followed by Portugal on June 22, 2104 and then Germany on 26,2014. If the US finishes in the Top 2 in the group of death they will continue to play until the World Cup final on July 13, 2014.
There is a lot of soccer to be played but one thing is for certain. All across the world every time the USA plays Americans will chant in unison “I Believe That We Will Win!”