The United States qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after a crucial victory in Columbus, Ohio over bitter rivals, Mexico. Since then, the FIFA rankings have been released and the US Men’s National Team has been upgraded to hold the No. 13 spot in the world. So, how legitimate is their chances to not only succeed in the World Cup, but to win it?
The US may have the strongest soccer team they’ve ever had going into the 2014 World Cup. Not only do they boast players from top international leagues like Serie A, the Bundesliga and the English Premier League, but they also have a plethora of the top MLS and Liga MX talent.
Unlike the 2010 World Cup, a majority of the USMNT roster aren’t just on big name club teams, but they are getting huge chunks of playing time.
Jozy Altidore was one of the most in-form strikers in the world for AZ Alkmaar during World Cup Qualification and is only going to get better between now and the World Cup with Sunderland. Michael Bradley, the heart and soul of the USMNT, is affectionately called “the General” by Roma’s fans.
Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Omar Gonzales and Matt Besler are some of the American world class talent that have elected to play in the MLS rather than abroad – expanding the talent level of the MLS and furthering the development of future USMNT players like Jack McInerney and Juan Agudelo.
The USMNT has the steady growing player talent pool to contend for a World Cup, but they will still have to get a few favorable draws in both the group stage and the quarterfinals.
When it comes to teams from different regions, the US seems to have relative success against European teams and South American teams. The USMNT’s physical style of play throws off fast moving opponents and causes teams that are used to stringing multiple passes together to lose their rhythm. The USMNT has also been exceptional at winning the ball in the air and that can really slow down their European and South American opposition.
However, the USMNT seems to struggle against African teams – specifically Ghana. Why is this? Because top African teams are the closest group of teams to playing the exact same style of soccer as the USMNT. They’re fast and physical and many of them focus on the counter attack.
The USMNT is not used to having massive periods of the game with most of the possession – that’s why they recently lost to Costa Rica 3-1. The United States doesn’t play any teams that play a similar style of soccer in CONCACAF, and that always seems to work to their disadvantage when the World Cup comes around and they play the strong African sides.
So the answer to the question that’s on every American’s mind, “Can the US win the World Cup?” is yes.
The USMNT has every opportunity to win the World Cup. With a little skill, determination and luck, 2014 could be the year that the United States shocks the footballing world. Go, go, USA, go.