At this point, there isn’t much confidence riding on USMNT as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup. Being drawn into the Group of Death against the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany can do that. Because of this, some fans and pundits are already pointing to 2018 as a good time to really be competitive. But is that really a good idea? Here’s my take: you’re going to the World Cup. Why not enjoy it?
Fact of the matter is, American soccer fans tend to embrace their role as the underdog. The Americans weren’t favored in 2010, 2002 or 1994 when they surprised the world. Add that to the fact that there are players who have waited their whole lives for this moment, and a different view of the event comes up. The Americans are in good position to surprise everyone by advancing out of the Group Stage.
But against the likes of Ghana, Cristiano Ronaldo and Germany? Of course the team will have their work cut out for them. Jurgen Klinsmann‘s defensive corps is still unproven in World Cup competition, and he’s still silent about his final formation. Will Jozy Altidore be left alone against Ghana? Or will Michael Bradley feed him perfect passes to give him the opportunities he needs? Certainly the formation Klinsmann rolled out against Nigeria was surprisingly effective. Don’t be surprised if Klinsmann decides to use it.
But when Klinsmann said the United States is not going to win the World Cup, he may have had a point. Against a Ghana team that is never elite, but always finds ways to frustrate the Americans, a Portugal team with one of the the best players in the world, who also just won the UEFA Champions League, and well, Germany, the chances of this team being eliminated in the Group Stage are high. It’s the Group of Death, after all.
But the Americans play best when they know they’re underdogs. With that in mind, the team should approach this tournament as a chance to have some fun. No, not the “sit on the beach and party with the samba girls” fun, but the “let’s go out onto that pitch and give it our all because, hey? What have we got to lose?” … Kind of fun. The Americans do have a good team and a heck of an opportunity.
It’s the World Cup, after all. Why not have some fun?