By Michelle Ackermann – Social media platforms are still a-buzz as footy fans from all corners of the globe voice their opinions after the much anticipated World Cup 2014 draw last Friday. The most outspoken of the comments come from fans of the U.S. Men’s National Team as the Stars and Stripes were drawn in one of the toughest groups.
As fate would have it, USMNT has once again been handed quite an arduous task – Ghana, Germany and Portugal. Labelled by some as the “group of death”, others who remain optimistic of the U.S simply refer to it as “the group of grave danger”. Whichever way you choose to look at it, the truth remains that USMNT is set to face some serious and stiff competition, one laced with history that doesn’t exactly work in their favour. If you believe that history repeats itself, then you’d be safe to assume that the chances of USMNT are slim, and that’s using a generous adjective.
Ghana, Portugal and Germany – to be fair, the United States could not have been selected in a more gruelling and dangerous group, and with their opening match against Ghana, a team that has eliminated the U.S in the last two World Cups, their performance in this match will determine their destiny. Throw into the mix Portugal, and Ronaldo’s unstoppable performance over the last few weeks, as well as Germany, who managed to hand the U.S losses in both 1998 and 2002, and this group is certainly the one to watch!
One of the biggest problems that face teams in Brazil will be the outrageous amount of travel. By the conclusion of group play, the team would have travelled approximately 9,000 miles. So, to summarize, the U.S will travel an absurd distance, play in the rainforest and face a team that has ended their last two World Cup campaigns, arguably one of the best strikers in the world and a three time World Cup champion. That being said, if the U.S can pull this off, it will surely change the minds of those still not sold on the legitimacy of U.S soccer.
Ok, ok…on the upside, USMNT do possess some factors that work in their favour: many may argue that the USMNT is one of the few teams able to deal with the rigorous travel schedule ahead, as well as being able to play in varying conditions, best described as less-than-ideal. The U.S is also one of the fittest teams, which could very well work in their favour as the opposition will tire towards the end of 90 minutes in the hot and humid rainforests of Brazil.
While the U.S was unable to last the month in 2010 as playmakers ran out of gas, to say that the team hobbled into the second round against Ghana would be a grave understatement. U.S fans can rest assure that that will not be the case in Brazil. Klinsmann’s bench is more than able to maintain that quality throughout this group stage, one that will be of utmost importance during the final bout against Germany.
It is also important to remember that advancing out of the group stage is not dependent on the best team, but the most consistent. Unable to win two matches in group play, the U.S has still managed to advance out of their groups in the last three World Cups. It’s also time for U.S fans to welcome a new wave of talent like Omar Gonzalez, and stop relying so heavily on those players that once ran the show.
U.S Soccer may still be a young one in the eyes of the world, but one thing must be said, the beautiful game has sure come a long way in America since 1990. So, choose to stand behind the USMNT but remember that there may be unsurmountable challenges along the way –ones that this team are more than ready to face.
While some U.S fans remain optimistic, others remain on the fence, but whichever side of the equation you fall in, it will all come down to the USMNT’s first showdown against Ghana. Not an easy feat, but one that Klinsmann and the U.S boys can certainly manage. What are your predictions for the USMNT in World Cup 2014? Will they be able to break the shackles of history and prove everyone wrong?
Drop us a line and let us know what you think!