USA Soccer Emerges From Group of Death
With the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals in the rearview mirror, sports fans in America are locked into the World Cup.
For a sporting event that only comes around once every four years, many casual American sports fans have no problem jumping on the bandwagon for this month.
And why not? It is a nice change from the routine baseball heavy summer that Americans are so used to.
To make the World Cup even more entertaining and inspiring for the US, we are the underdogs! It is rare to see another popular worldly event or sport in which people can tag the US as the underdog.
What was coined the “Group of Death” by many soccer analysts, the US had a tough test awaiting them from the start of the World Cup games. However, the USA was able to back their way in to the knockout round earlier this morning with help from Portugal.
Still, losing to Germany was not pretty. It is incredibly clear that the German squad was the best team of the group. The Germans are arguably one of the best teams in the world as well.
For the United States, just advancing from the group stage is a win. In a country where soccer is put on the backburner, it is exciting to see the nation so fired up about each game.
The next task at hand for the United States comes Tuesday afternoon in Brazil. Group H winner Belgium will be a tough test for the Americans. Belgium dominated their group which included Algeria, Russia, and South Korea. Algeria is the other team advancing from the group.
Through the first three games, Belgium only allowed one goal. Many soccer analysts have this team as the sneaky sleeper in the final 16. Belgium plays sound defense and has enough offense to find ways to win. From what I’ve observed, Belgium does not look like the type of team to fight back from behind. They try to impose their will by locking the other team down and controlling the tempo.
For the United States, players like Michael Bradley will have to show up right about now. Better late than never, right? While Bradley is normally one of the best players on the team, his work has been lackluster at best in this World Cup. There will be no room for error from him in this next match.
Aside from just Bradley’s efforts, the rest of the team will need to bring their best efforts. Prior to the World Cup, it was noted that the United States often had trouble mustering up goals. The only substantial evidence of that occurred in this last game against the Germans. USA had absolutely no offense throughout the entire contest. This continues to be a big fear for fans of the US.
Coach Klinsmann better have his boys prepared Tuesday, as the team seems to have lost their confidence that was so prevalent in the first match. The first game was thrilling on many levels. The fact that the US finally beat Ghana in the World Cup was a huge win in itself. With memories of the last two World Cups, the United States went into that Ghana matchup with the cliché chip on their shoulder. However, the loss of Jozy Altidore may come back to bite the US in this next game. Thankfully Dempsey has the ability to still play with his broken nose.
The US without a doubt took a shot to the gut after the heartbreaking tie Sunday night against Portugal. It still sounds weird to think of games ending in a tie. But Ronaldo proved why he’s the best in the world. It is a little sad to see him go home so early, but his poor health and lack of role players around him made Portugal too weak to hang with the big teams.
Coming into today’s match, the United States was guaranteed to advance with a tie or win against Germany. Thankfully, with the help of Portugal beating Ghana, the US was able to live another day.
While many fans will stop here and call this World Cup a moral victory no matter what follows, I desire more. Of course it feels great to move onto the next round. But I know I speak for a lot of causal American sports fans when I plead for more US soccer! Seriously, what else is going on right now?
NFL training camp is still five or so weeks away. Baseball still has not reached the halfway point. I guess the NBA Draft and LeBron/Melo drama may make for an entertaining summer. Still, I do not want the US to quit now. This is one of the rare times America has such a soccer fever. Rare as in once every four years.
While being obvious underdogs, do not count the United States of America out. Not many expected them to escape the group of death. Vegas odds had the US at 100/1 to win the whole thing. Now with millions of Americans behind them, this team can’t quit yet. Soccer finally has the attention of American citizens, don’t waste this exposure!