We’ve had a couple of months to absorb the crushing blow of a group draw with Ghana, Germany, and Portugal, so it’s time to pose the question: can the US advance?
Yes, they can. Let’s be honest about it. United States fans are filled with optimism for this World Cup, and that is because of the magical Jurgen Klinsmann. The German gaffer has recently stated “We are expecting to go to the knockout stage, that means Germany, Portugal and Ghana will have to fight it out for the other spot.” Strong words from the US manager who has lifted a World Cup trophy with Germany. But he is right.
This is arguably the most talented group of players the USA has ever had going into a World Cup, regardless of the 23 Klinsmann takes to Brazil. The presence of the dual-internationals like Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, and Aron Johannsson give the Yanks talent like they have never seen before. (The best US finish in a WC is 3rd, achieved in 1930) Not to mention the experience of players like Landon Donovan, who will be playing in his fourth World Cup, Clint Dempsey, and Tim Howard. In the “skill” positions, America have one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League in Tim Howard (Everton), and a right fullback in Geoff Cameron who plays well for Stoke in Premier League as well.
Now the Major League Soccer influence will be instilled in the Yanks as well. Six of the usual WCQ starters play domestically in MLS. That’s the most since 2002, when the US advanced to the quarter finals, only to lose on a handball goal against Germany. The reserves for the Americans are also stacked in a sense. Players like Alejandro Bedoya, Aron Johannsson, and Mix Diskerud are all young stars who play in Europe (France, Holland, and Norway respectively.) Johannsson, who has scored 22 goals this season for AZ, has even been talked about to take Jozy Altidore’s place in the XI, as Altidore has struggled mightily for Sunderland this season.
This World Cup could be legendary for the US and its fans, who have purchased the most tickets of any country outside of Brazil according to FIFA. They have talented, experienced players who are guided by a master motivator in Jurgen Klinsmann. If they cannot advance, they will surely go down fighting.