Fans of the red, white and blue have grown to expect victories from the United State’s Men’s National Team, even if those victories came over weak teams like the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica (and their weed smoke stadium), the toothless attack from El Salvador or the third team of Germany … especially that last one. Hopefully, the fans of the U.S. have basked in their winning ways enough, because them advancing past the group stages of their summer’s World Cup in Brazil are slim to none.
In almost the worst possible manner, The stars and stripes drew the three types of teams you don’t want to face in an elimination tournament: A team you have past problems with (Ghana), a team with a terrific talent vs. your weakest position (The perpetually slicked back hair of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal), and a flat out just better team than yours (Germany … with it’s actual, non-depleted roster). There is a serious possibility that Clint Dempsey and the U.S. will go home with out a win this summer, and we’ll break it down team by team.
Ghana: The history between the Black Stars of Ghana and the U.S. has been an exciting one, but one that usually favors the African powers. They have played four times in history, (twice in the 80s, and twice the past two World Cups), with Ghana winning all four times, with an aggregate score of 10 goals to two. The last two have been identical 2-1 victories for the Black Stars, with the most recent one ending when Asamoah Gyan chested the ball from one of the Ghanaian defenders, and outworked Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra before slamming home a left footed missile past a helpless Tim Howard. The problem it seems is not talent, as the U.S. squad has more talented pieces than the scrappy Ghanaian side. However, they don’t seem to want to actually get dirty and gritty, which will be an issue as winning ugly is what the World Cup is about. Since Jurgen Klinsmann took over the reigns, though, the stars and stripes have looked better in playing better scrappy games.
Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo is a spectacular talent who strikes fear in all opposing defenses, even the most sound. One player doesn’t make a team, however, especially in soccer. This isn’t the case in this circumstance, as the hard attacking Ronaldo presents an issue right where the U.S. is still unsure. As said best by soccer journalist Trevor Hayward, DeMarcus Beasley on your back line is a very scary thought when presented with the attacking prowess of C. Ronaldo, Nani and Helder Postiga. This doesn’t only fall on the elderly Beasley, as Clarence Goodson, Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron, and others have to step up as well. Even Ras Trent lookalike Kyle Beckerman will need to peal back more and support the defense, if he makes the roster. But aside from Carlos, is there any one who could be called upon on the back line that makes you very nervous as you watch them? … Exactly.
Germany: Many Americans will be quick to point out what I stated above that the U.S. did beat Germany in a friendly earlier 4-3. But the main things that stick out in that are: 1) It was a friendly, some teams have things they are trying to work out, and sometimes winning might not be the top priority for one competing team. Considering that Germany didnt use Mesut Ozil, Philip Lahm, Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteger and countless others, the victory seems a little hollow. 2) The U.S. almost still lost to the German’s B team with a team that was full of players who will get significant playing time during this summer. That’s not something a U.S. fan can ignore. Also, a fun fact: The 35-year old Miroslav Klose (rumored to be headed to the MLS) has made 138 appearances for Die Mannschaft. He has scored in 46 different games (68 goals total). Germany’s record when he scores? 40 wins, and six draws … zero losses. If Klose puts one in the back of the old onion bag, the match is basically over. That’s not even taking into account that Germany has an over all stronger team than the United States.
In conclusion, if the United States wins a match or two, or even qualifies for the next round, I will gladly eat a crow … but I don’t see them having enough firepower to get past this dangerous group.