2014 World Cup: USMNT Heads to Brazil on a High Note With a Caveat

By Douglas Smith
USMNT World Cup Send-Off Series
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The USMNT finished their Send-Off Series undefeated after beating Nigeria 2-1. This completes a great stretch of performances over the past year and a half. They won the Gold Cup, finished at the top of the hex and now take three straight victories into the World Cup. The final match in the build up was a good result and a great showing for several players. However, their competition will step up a notch in Brazil and the foes of Group G will be able to adjust more easily.

There are plenty of positives to take away from the last three games. Jozy Altidore got the weight of the world off his shoulders by scoring twice in Jacksonville. Michael Bradley proved he can be a playmaker with the likes of Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman shielding the back line. The center back combination of Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler look to have good chemistry. Fabian Johnson has shown just how valuable of a right back he can be against top quality opponents.

The biggest takeaway may be that the team has looked stronger as the three matches of the Send-Off Series progressed. Players were given a chance to prove themselves in the middle game, but the performance against Nigeria was the best yet. The USMNT had a solid performance and they were compact in defense. They were fundamental in attack. However, they did unwisely continue charging forward with a 2-0 lead that eventually resulted in a penalty kick goal for Nigeria.

Holding onto the lead will be one adjustment in Brazil as long as the situation presents itself. Ghana, Portugal and Germany will all adjust better than any of the teams the USMNT has seen in the last three. They will have better personnel barring injury and make adjustments easily. This will put more pressure on Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff to make their own changes to counter the Group G opponents.

There is good reason to feel optimistic as a USMNT fan at this moment. There is plenty to pick out over the last year that can lead to a smile. Keep in mind what is ahead and continue to support.

Douglas Smith is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DFresh39, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.


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