World Cup Preview: USA USA USA
This preview is only about the USA. For the Preview of the rest of their Group, including a very comprehensive Ghana preview: Click here.
The accepted best case scenario for USA soccer is that if their World Cup played out like the script of Cool Runnings then folks would be OK with it. Geoff Cameron standing next to Matt Besler in the mirror. Cameron hyping Besler up. I see Pride. I see Power. I see a badass mother who don’t take crap off of nobody! Then a fight with the West German team at the bar. Then, a USA team that looks like they’re about to accomplish something. Then a collapse with reality hitting hard. All of that plus mix in a training montage scene set to 1980’s music.
Most would consider that a success. Especially in the “Group of Death.” But, if we’re being honest, that Group label is more realistically “Group of Germany and Portugal should advance.” No matter how much you talk up USA, they really only advance if Portugal slips and USA plays really well. Obviously that can happen. But, it’s not entirely likely and there are two other groups where the 2nd/3rd teams are much closer than Portugal/USA. Netherlands and Chile. England and Uruguay.
Here’s a picture of USA midfielder Kyle Beckerman:
Did you just say, “I bet that dude brings a guitar and a bunch of weed to Brazil”? Well, he did. Here’s Beckerman arriving in Brazil. The weed, at least, we can “confirm” by how high he looks in that picture. He has a guitar case, but, I can’t confirm he doesn’t just have a bunch of guns in there.
Beckerman is a midfielder more on the defensive side of things. In the friendly against Turkey, he replaced Jermaine Jones in that role. He played better than Jones had. Then, Klinsmann played them together against Nigeria. What does that tell us?
I feel like that’s actually a pretty analytic statement. USA is still trying to figure out what will work best when it comes to Brazil.
Here’s what I hope they come up with: I’m fine with using defensive midfielders if it allows for Michael Bradley to have complete freedom in attack. It seemed like that was the case against Nigeria. And, that’s a good thing. I’m also fine with it if they continue to have the LB, presumably Damarcus Beasley, and the RB, Fabian Johnson, push forward and join the attack. USA in the past has played defensive and then only countered. They can’t do that against these teams. They have to try and take possession and keep it at times. Taking a defensive shape, that can transition to attack quickly, with the mindset that Klinsmann has built over the last two years (changing from a counter attack team to one that wants to attack and take it to the opposition) is something that sounds pretty damn good.
According to the wikipedia page for Mix Diskerud, the USA began their recruiting of Mix while he was taking a corner kick during a game where he was playing for Norway’s youth national team. A USA coach just walked up to him and asked him if he had an American passport while he was about to take a corner kick. This is similar to how SEC teams recruit for real-football. Only, instead of asking if they have an American passport, they just stop players during games and ask, “would you like this ten thousand dollars?”
USA is their weakest when it comes to defense. I probably should have mentioned that above when I was talking about why the USA was considering playing two defensive midfielders. But, I didn’t and we shouldn’t dwell on my mistakes. However, we can use my mistakes as a metaphor for the mistakes this defense will inevitably make. USA seems like they have decided on Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron. And, they’ve been pretty good. Pretty good in some friendlies not against Portugal and Germany.
Here’s what I have judged about Matt Besler by just looking at him. If he wasn’t playing soccer I bet he would have some low-level office job where he kept telling himself he would start taking business classes at night, and then on the drive home, listening to country music and Sweet Home Alabama came on, he would turn the volume up when the guy says, “Turn it up, now!” How good is he at soccer? I don’t know, that’s what Brazil is for.
Here is what I have judged about Geoff Cameron by just knowing he plays for Stoke. He’s probably the guy that’s going to step up and elbow Cristiano Ronaldo every time Ronaldo goes to jump. And, as we all learned in my Preview of the rest of Group G, that is the proper defensive strategy for Ronaldo.
Sticking with the defense, you round it off with the full backs I mentioned before. Beasley and Johnson. Holy shit was Johnson’s goal against Turkey nice. Beasley used to be a midfielder and Johnson seems pretty solid going forward from the back. Kind of comfortable with these guys. Off the bench, DeAndre Yedlin has the potential to come in, and, while he looked a bit shaky at times against Turkey (he did settle into the game nicely, however), he was also very fast. USA will need to use their fullbacks to get forward and to track back, so, Yedlin could become important as a late substitution.
If Omar Gonzalez comes in for USA on defense, we’re kind of fucked.
Before talking the attack, let me state the obvious, Tim Howard, in goal, is one of the best. Not just in terms of being an awesome American (I saw him pose for a selfie with a fan on the ESPN send-off show, and selfies are currently the barometer for being ‘Merican. It changes quickly, however), but really, he’s better than like 28 of these other starting goalies if I had to pick a number/guess.
I talked about Bradley a bit earlier. Bradley getting forward and having attack as his central concern needs to be something they do. Bradley is pretty damn good and kind of underrated. He can do a lot, especially on give and go type passing that USA has lacked until Bradley. He and Dempsey provide a bit of skill that, while not World Class, is pretty good, and combined with both guys typically rising at a big stage (especially Dempsey), they do at least have the backdrop to create an upset. Dempsey is much less creative than Bradley, but, better around goal. Puts himself in good spots. Again, not World Class. But, they do have one thing going for them that all seven or so of those World Class German midfielders don’t have: they aren’t European. So, while the Germans are preoccupied doing stupid European things, Bradley and Dempsey will be busy bustin’ their ass.
Do I need to talk more about Dempsey? Even casual fans know of Dempsey, right? Best American soccer player ever and all that. Has this music video from 2006. He raps! And, Dempsey scores clutch goals. Even in Europe. Against teams like Manchester United. Manchester United before they were ruined by David Moyes, even.
How about that Jozy Altidore, huh? Scored a goal! Two goals! Which, according to many, many people on Twitter, that means the flood gates are open. Jozy left a Dutch club where he was scoring tons of goals. He went to an English Premier League side. He scored only one league goal this year. The plus side is that Jozy has looked really good in the areas that don’t involve scoring goals. So, there’s certainly been improvement. In terms of holding up play, passing to teammates, mocking small british dudes, using his size and strength better. The second goal he had against Nigeria was phenomenal. Great to see him bring a ball down, then beat a defender and rip a shot off. He had been struggling a bit with the “beat a defender” part of that.
If I haven’t mentioned any of the other USA players, it means they are not as good as Landon Donovan and Landon should have been on the team. Just kidding! Although, I bet Landon would have sat there with his legs crossed very appreciative of the guitar strummin’ by Kyle Beckerman. Let’s do some short answers with the remaining USA players.
Brad Guzan: Goalie. Will have a british accent in 10 years like Brad Freidel.
Nick Rimando: Goalie. No clue who he is.
Timothy Chandler: LB. Looked very weak against Turkey.
John Brooks: Young defender, good physical ability, but has looked suspect at times defending. He looked good playing in one of these friendlies.
Brad Davis: Freekick specialist. When do you put a freekick specialist into a game? No idea.
Julian Green: Very young, but Bayern Munich believes in him, so worth the spot. Didn’t take advantage of some opportunities against Turkey. At least, opportunities to impress me. I matter less than Klinsmann, though.
Graham Zusi: When I think about Graham Zusi, I mainly think of the scene in Godfather 3 where the horse cop shoots Joey Zasa and then says, “Zasa!”
Alejendro Bedoya: I think Bedoya is pretty important to the team, especially in games against Germany and Portugal where they’ll certainly need to defend, but, also, need players in the midfield who can attack. He seemed to struggle in the friendlies when it came to the offensive third of the field, but, overall looked much better than Davis or Zusi at holding shit together. I also mainly deduced this by Bedoya looking mad at himself when he was subbed out against Nigeria. And, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Bedoya knows more about soccer than I do.
Aron Johannsson: Basically at the stage Jozy was a few years ago. In the Netherlands scoring goals. Can come in and play Winger with Jozy and Clint if USA is tied/trailing and need a goal.
Chris Wondolowski: Do you trust MLS strikers on an International stage?
All of this is to say one thing. USA can’t win the World Cup. Might not even get out of the Group. But, America is the best. And, America is going to crush all of these fools. Greenlight the Disney movie, baby, USA is lifting the Cup. Also, USA is going to be very disappointed when we find out we can not drink alcohol out of the Cup. That might ruin winning the World Cup, I don’t know, we’ll just have to win and find out.