Shelbyville Daily Union

June 13, 2014

US starts quest for the Cup

Tom Cavalli
Shelbyville Daily Union

---- — Jurgen Klinsmann, coach of the US Men’s National Team, has gone on record as saying the US can not win this World Cup. While that may be the case, don’t tell that to the millions of United States supporters who will be logging onto their computer and finding any available television to catch some of the matches over the next month.

The US had their best finish in 1930, losing in the semi-finals against Uruguay. This year the hope and expectations rely on getting through the “Group of Death”. A rough random draw that has landed the home team with a brutal 9000 mile+ travel schedule to play their three games in various climates and temperatures. The US will open play against Ghana on Monday, the team that has eliminated them the past two World Cups. After that, next Sunday, they will face the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. The final first round match doesn’t get any easier. They will face Germany, one of the heavy favorites to win the World Cup. Klinsmann led Germany to the cup in 1990 as a player and then took them to the semi-finals as a coach in 2006.

So what are the keys to victory and advancing?

The top two teams from each group (8 groups A-H), will advance to the 16-team knockout stage and single elimination. Most likely, the US will need at least one win and a tie to hope to advance.

Ghana is the key. The US must find a way to earn three points with a victory over Ghana. The Black Stars have been a thorn in the US side for the past two world cups, eliminating them in both. Once in the knockout stage and once in the final game of the first round.

From there, a tie against either Germany or Portugal may be enough to advance, but not win the first game and it’s a tough uphill battle.

Players to Watch

Tim Howard, the keeper, at 35, will most likely be his last run at glory. Howard is one of the best in the World, playing for Everton most recently. Howard is on the squad for his third World Cup, despite not seeing playing time in 2006.

Clint Dempsey, will be relied upon to be the guy to step up and make fans forget that Landon Donovan is not on the team. Dempsey, who plays for the Seattle Sounders, has a big following and needs to be the catalyst.

Jozy Altidore, at just 24 has a wicked shot, but struggled playing for Sunderland this past year. People are hoping Altidore returns to form, like he did last weekend, finding the net twice in the final send off game against Nigeria.

Michael Bradley, the son of former US Coach Bob Bradley, is quickly becoming the player most likely to step up. Playing in the midfield, Klinsmann has him pushing forward to help support Dempsey and Altidore.

So grab a seat and wave your flag, the US team and fans believe they will win. It only happens every four years, when the world also pauses and watches with anticipation…It’s the World Cup.

US World Cup Roster

Tim Howard-goal keeper, Brad Guzan-goal keeper, Nick Rimando-goal keeper, DaMarcus Beasley-defender, Geoff Cameron-defender, Fabian Johnson-defender, Omar Gonzalez-defender, Matt Besler-defender, Timothy Chandler-defender, John Brooks-defender, DeAndre Yedlin-defender, Michael Bradley-midfielder, Jermaine Jones-midfielder, Kyle Beckerman-midfielder, Alejandro Bedoya-midfielder, Graham Zusi-midfielder, Mikkel Diskerud-midfielder, Brad Davis-midfielder, Julian Green-midfielder, Clint Dempsey (c) forward, Jozy Altidore-forward, Chris Wondolowski-forward, Aron Johannsson-forward