The United States of America is a land filled with tailgating, bad tans, crappy beer and a love for every sport, except for the most popular sport in the world, soccer.
While this love for soccer only appears every four years in the wake of the World Cup, it’s a great reminder as to how patriotic this country actually is.
We Americans are a prideful bunch. We shout ‘MERIKA at every opportunity. We plaster the stars and stripes on beer cans and billboards. And we didn’t like the measuring system the rest of the world was using, so we implemented our own, that is pretty American to me.
We get behind 23 men every four years, playing a sport no one knows anything about because they are wearing the good ol’ red, white and blue.
It’s time to shed some light on some of those 23 men and the German that will be leading us to, according to him, an inevitable demise in Brazil.
Jürgen Klinsmann, an icon in the world of soccer, was a name not many Americans knew when he was first appointed coach of the United States Men’s National Team. Hell, he’s still not a name very many people know.
His goal is to pluck as many foreign players as he can into the United States system. I’m talking about taking kids from soldiers stationed in Germany, Latin America, Eastern Europe and all over the World.
He wants to showcase what America is really about, one giant melting pot with a plethora of different cultures. While yes, a handful of the players that represent the US don’t speak English as a first language, they are sure good when it comes to kicking a ball.
However, the three best players on the national team are as American as they come.
Forward Clint Dempsey, who looks somewhat like freedom himself. Midfielder Michael Bradley, who is bald, so obviously draws comparisons to a bald eagle. And goalkeeper Tim Howard, who can grow one fine beard, America loves beards.
It’s safe to say if the United States is to find any success in Brazil, these three will need to play at an extremely high level.
Klinsmann threw out a diamond formation in some of the friendlies leading up to the World Cup. He had Jermaine Jones sitting in front of the back four with two players sitting in the middle of park, and Bradley up front, just behind forwards Jozy Altidore and Dempsey.
While this did produce some decent results in the attacking third, the US looked extremely suspect in defense.
The back line looked woeful against Turkey and while they didn’t concede a goal in open play against Nigeria, there was no reason to be confident in their performance. However, the back four against Nigeria is probably the back four we’ll see against Ghana in Brazil.
How they should lineup during the World Cup isn’t up to me, it’s up to Klinsmann, but here’s how I would line up our squad:
I have grown tired of the vanilla 4-4-2 formation that has been talked about leading up to the tournament. It’s extremely boring and I personally believe the strength of the US as a whole, lies in the midfield. With Jones, Bradley and Kyle Beckerman, the US has a strong core in the middle of the park, a place on the pitch where games are won and lost.
The US should line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Howard in goal. Fabian Johnson, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron and DaMarcus Beasley in the back. With Jones and Beckerman just in front of the back four, they will offer much needed protection and hope to relieve pressure from Klinsmann’s defense. In attack you’ll have Alejandro Bedoya on the left, Bradley in the center and Dempsey on the right with Altidore up front.
Bedoya Bradley Dempsey
Johnson Besler Cameron Beasley
With the countries the US will face in the Group Stage, protecting the back four will be extremely crucial. Ghana and Portugal both rely on their attacking play, with the two midfielders in front of the center backs, this will give them cover. Especially if the fullbacks find themselves too far up the pitch, but hopefully they’ll be smart enough to mind their positioning.
When the US goes forward, Beasley can push up and take Dempsey’s spot while Dempsey pushes up and plays more as a striker. Cameron or Beckerman can slide over to Beasley’s vacant spot to fill the void if the US turn the ball over and find themselves on the back foot.
This game against Ghana, as everyone is telling you, is extremely important. The US MUST get the three points. If the US fail to win against Ghana, they might as well stay on the beautiful beaches of Brazil and make the most out of their couple of weeks away from the mediocre play of the MLS. No win against Ghana means no Knockout Stage for the Yanks.
Do Americans call Americans, Yanks? Is that just an English thing? Whatever.
If I were to dig deep and think real hard, think really hard about the chances the United States have of advancing out of this group, I would say we are in a lot of trouble.
Things looked good when a witch doctor from Ghana plagued Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, but Ronaldo has recovered from the evil sorcery and looks fit to destroy defenders at will.
However, it’s possible for the US to advance past the Group Stage. Portugal is inconsistent and Ghana is a country that the US can compete with toe-to-toe. Each member of the United States National Team will need to play the game of their lives, every game.
The machines from Germany (yes they are actual machines) could win their first two games and perhaps sit key players in their game with the US, giving them hope for a point, or even three.
I’m going to say we do advance, because it would be considered treason for me to be realistic and say we go home early, right? We beat Ghana 2-1 with a late goal from Michael Bradley. We go on to shock the world and beat Portugal 2-0. In the last game against Germany, we get brought back down to reality and are beaten 4-0 in a drubbing. But we’ll advance and America will have won, like we always do.
So get ready to sit back and listen to Ian Darke’s beautiful voice depict an art form America has yet to grasp.
Put on your red, white and blue, turn your 80 inch HD flat screen all the way up, open a terrible-tasting beer and enjoy the beautiful game on its biggest stage.
Go, go, USA.
The United States Schedule for the Group Stage of the 2014 World Cup:
Mon. June 16 v Ghana 3 PM
Sun. June 22 v Portugal 3 PM
Thu. June 26 v Germany 9 AM
All times are in Pacific Time.