USMNT players maintain positive outlook despite difficult World Cup draw

Clint Dempsey World Cup Draw (SBI)

Photo by Garrett Cleverley/Soccer by Ives

By FRANCO PANIZO

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - It could have been worse.

That was the overall message from members of the U.S. Men’s National Team following Friday’s 2014 World Cup draw that saw them land in Group G alongside Ghana, Germany and Portugal. Some of the players said the U.S. is in the tournament’s Group of Death, but still kept a positive outlook on the difficult draw that seemed inevitable as soon as Germany was paired with Ghana.

“This is what the World Cup is about,” said Clint Dempsey. “It’s about playing the best teams and we’ve got a good group as far as that’s concerned, and I think we still have the quality if we play our best ball that we can get out of the group. It’s just making sure that we do that and try to get the most out of every game and not wait until that last game and need other people to do favors for you.

“At the same time, looking at that group, we think it’s going to go down to the last minute for everybody.”

Part of the reason why the U.S. players were optimistic is the travel. While they will travel nearly 9,000 miles in Brazil (more than any other team), the Americans have experience with trekking long distances due to the size of the United States.

In fact, they intentionally traveled quite a bit this past summer in an effort to prepare for what they could face next June.

“I know that during the summer we did a good job of trying to replicate that and having some difficult locations, trying to get from Jamaica all the way up to Seattle to Salt Lake and stuff like that,” said Dempsey. “We tried to replicate that travel and quick turnarounds and trying to get the job done and being able to get back to form. I thought we did a real good job of that this summer.”

Up first for the U.S. is a date with a World Cup nemesis. The Americans will take on Ghana on June 16 at Arena das Dunas in Natal, a match that will mark the third straight World Cup in which the two nations will meet.

The Black Stars eliminated the U.S. in the last two tournaments, knocking off Bob Bradley’s side in extra time of a Round of 16 match in 2010 and Bruce Arena’s in the two teams’ final group stage game four years earlier. Both matches ended 2-1 in Ghana’s favor.

Clearly, there will be a chance for redemption for the Americans.

“It’s one of those situations where you feel hard done-by, because the last two times we played them, they’re the team that beat us and kind of crushed our dreams of trying to go on further in the World Cup,” said Dempsey. “I think we’re due a little bit of luck and I think we’re due a win against them.”

Six days after playing in their opener, the U.S. will take on Portugal at Arena Amazonia in Manaus in the countries’ first meeting since the 2002 World Cup. The Americans were considered heavy underdogs when the two sides played in their group opener that year, but the U.S. came out flying and stunned Portugal, 3-2, behind an impressive first-half performance that saw them take a 3-0 lead.

That Portugal side did not have a player of the caliber of Cristiano Ronaldo, however.

“(I’m) excited,” said center back Matt Besler. “You play one of the best players in the world, arguably the best player in the world, on a big stage. It’ll be fun.”

“I faced him for the (LA) Galaxy once before and that was fun, but I think he’s going to be even harder playing for his country in this tournament,” added center back Omar Gonzalez. “I think it’s going to be awesome and it should be a fun time.”

The U.S. close out group play with a June 26 meeting at Arena Pernambuco in Recife against none other than Germany, the country U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was born in, helped win a World Cup during his playing days and managed at the 2006 World Cup.

For Klinsmann, the match will hold even more significance than this past June’s 4-3 friendly victory over the Germans and the American players believe that can only benefit them.

“I’ve never seen a coach more excited to face anybody than when we played Germany this summer and more fired up before, at halftime, during the game,” said right back Brad Evans. “It was pretty incredible and guys fed off that emotion and will continue to do so in that (World Cup) game against Germany.”

There is no denying that advancing out of the group stage and into the knockout rounds is a tall order for the Americans because they are clearly the underdogs. If they manage to do so, however, a big statement will be made not only to U.S. fans back home but to everyone across the world.

“It’s always a big statement when you get out of the group because I think it builds (confidence),” said Dempsey. “The further you go on in a tournament, the more that all of America kind of gets behind you. It would be a huge statement and a huge step forward for soccer in this country.

“But making sure that you do well in any World Cup, I feel like that’s what it’s all about, trying to move the game further in your country and trying to make sure that maybe you’re one of those teams that is getting further in the tournament and trying to win it.”

This entry was posted in Featured, FIFA World Cup, International Soccer, U.S. Men's National Team, U.S. Soccer, World Cup 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

152 Responses to USMNT players maintain positive outlook despite difficult World Cup draw

  1. Chad says:

    Sounds like they’re all drinking Kinsmartinis

  2. Umlaut says:

    I love their attitude right now, Klinsmann’s too. His interview over on ESPN: “It couldn’t get any more difficult or any bigger, but, uh, that’s what the World Cup is about! It’s a real challenge and we’ll take it! We’ll take it on!”

    So excited!

  3. Bean says:

    It’s like they are going to say they’re going to have a bad attitude.

    • James says:

      Professional athletes, by nature and necessity, are an egotistical bunch. I never doubt them when they say they’re confident or not intimidated.

  4. A.S. says:

    “That Portugal side did not have a player of the caliber of Cristiano Ronaldo, however.”

    It didn’t? It had some dude named Figo who, you know, only won the FIFA Player of the Year award the year before.

    • Mason says:

      Seriously. It’s only been a decade. How can people forget so quickly?

    • dude says:

      Yeah, I thought that was a strange comment.

      That was the side that was the “Golden Generation” of Portuguese football, the side that Greece miraculously beat in the final of the Euro 2004 tournament. That team was loaded with a lot more talent across the field than this side.

      That’s not to say this side will be a slouch. Portugal made Spain work to beat them in the round of 16 last time, they’re a very stingy side defensively, and when they can find Ronaldo in good spots, they can be very dangerous.

    • GW says:

      Figo was great.

      But C Ronaldo is a level above him.

  5. Clint Dempsey says:

    In order to prepare to face the best players in the world, i have taken my talents to…Seattle

  6. Clevelandfc says:

    We really need 4 points going into germany game. I think we beat ghana, germany beats portugal, we tie porugal and also tie them w 4 points. The. It comes down to goal diff.

    • PD says:

      I think we need six points going into Germany, because they will most likely have four by then and will be hitting their stride by that time. We will be lucky to get a draw, but six points keeps destiny in the US’s own hands. #gottabeatGhana

      • Increase says:

        I dunno. If we had 4 and Germany had 4… then a draw would put us both through? I think cause the other two teams would have 4 max.

        • Mason says:

          I don’t think so.
          I came up with this scenario:

          MD1
          GER draws POR
          USA beats GHA

          MD2
          GER beats GHA
          USA draws POR

          Standings:
          USA, GER: 4 (max 7)
          POR: 2 (max 5)
          GHA: 0 (max 3)

          Given that, if USA-GER draw and POR beats GHA, then three teams are on 5 points and it will come down to tie breaks. Now… If GER beats POR and all other results stay the same, GER and USA could kick the ball back and forth for 90 minutes and go through as winner (7 points) and runner up (5 points).

      • Increase says:

        Urg, whatever beat Ghana and I’m happy enough.

  7. The Squad says:

    This is an excellent draw…

    Of course, much of this thing will depend on what kind of tournament the ’14 Cup becomes…

    Will it mirror the ’02 Cup-a tournament where sides like the US, and the Republic of Korea made inroads while The Netherlands, Portugal and even Spain failed to meet expectations?

    Or will we see a Cup similar to the recent editions where the familiar faces succeed early and often..

    The US draw looks tough on paper but what did you expect?

    Every team in this tournament is most vulnerable during the early stages.

    If you want to kick a few tires then there’s a bunch of stuff to suggest that the US enjoys as good a chance as any..

    Klinnsmann has a strong inventory of the German national side. He understands the tactics, the mentality and the approach these guys use to attack this tournament.

    Match this with the his knowledge of the players and exactly where that team is from a strength/weakness standpoint.. One would assume that this a terrible matchup for them.

    Truth be told, “tough out” would be the best way to describe the matchup with either Ghana or Portugal.

    Fortunately, these matchups represent the exact scenario envisioned by the USMNT staff..

    Tough, high stakes contests with physical/technically gifted sides

    JK and staff tried to instill the mentality that the USMNT must eliminate what would be perceived as a difference in level between the US and these teams.

    While most of the followers of US soccer are well aware of the strides made by the USMNT during the pre-Cup cycle, but perhaps the Group opponents will approach the US game the unbalanced belief in a favorable outcome..

    Advantage: US

    All-in-all, all of this chatter doesn’t matter until the final whistle following the matchup

    One thing we can be sure of I that the US team will be prepared.

    • Acronym says:

      I like this.

    • Ian says:

      Yes, but the Klinsmann-vs-Germany narrative is a double-edged sword. Joachim Löw knows Klinsmann and as well as Klinsmann knows Germany. Who’s to say Löw won’t know and anticipate JK’s tactics?

      • Four Cents says:

        Not double-edged necessarily- Klinsmann knows the German team, and the German coach- +2. Löw knows the American coach- +1. I’d say JK has the advantage… LETS GO YOU YANKS!!!

        • Falsify says:

          Not to mention Klinnsman defeated Low in the friendly. There might be a slight mental edge there. Granted it was a weaker German side.

          • Bort says:

            all i have to say is : Hey Portugal, you remember 2002? Well we remember how to do that to you!!!! See you in Brazil *!#%&@$!!

            then, we don’t need to beat germany

      • GW says:

        Tactics won’t be the difference in that game.

        Both managers know each other way too well.

    • jones says:

      “Tough out” is exactly right.

      And perhaps those critical of a player like Beckerman will be glad he is there for the group stage, especially with such an inexperienced backline.

  8. Acronym says:

    Before the World Cup 2002 I kept hearing how we were screwed. The naysayers said an injured Chris Armas meant we wouldn’t be going anywhere past the group stage. I kept hearing how South Korea was going to be impossible to beat as a host nation, Poland was going to be very difficult and Portugal was going to walk all over us.

    Funny how things worked out.

    • Roman Lewandowski says:

      Poland did prove very difficult (in that game).

    • Luke says:

      Get real! 2002 was one of the easiest draws for the USA in any World Cup since 1990 with 2010 draw being a close 2nd. Both of which we advanced out of the group stage. When the draw gets more difficult, the USA has struggled i.e. 1998 and 2002. 2014 is a brutal draw. Make no mistake the USA is the 4th best team in our group. Outlook looks bleak for this World Cup.

      • Luke says:

        Ooops! that should be *the USA has struggled i.e. 1998 and 2006.

      • Mason says:

        Don’t miss the point so readily. 2002 was SUPPOSED to be a difficult draw, too. Two UEFA group winners (Portugal – who didn’t lose in quals, Poland – who lost once) and a talented host country were supposed to put the US into last place in the group. That it ended up differently doesn’t mean that the the draw didn’t look difficult to begin with.

        Compare that with, say 2006, where the draw looked kind, and the US failed to advance because of the loss to Ghana. That the US lost doesn’t mean that the draw didn’t look good from the outset. Despite the result, the US got a manageable draw. They just lost.

        • Good Jeremy says:

          The draw looked kind? We also had Italy and the Czech Republic. It might not have been the group of death that year, but it is much more difficult than the average group.

          2010. Now that draw was kind to us.

          • Mason says:

            Yes. Prior to 2006, the thinking among USMNT fans was to take 3 from GHA and 1 from CZR. That was considered a manageable draw. The 2-0 loss in the fist match changed the plan, but that doesn’t change how it was perceived going in. As it was, the draw came against ITA, and a win against GHA would have still put the US though.

            2006 was a good draw that didn’t work out.

      • Francois says:

        Really? Have you seen Ghana play recently? They’re not as great as everyone thinks.

      • Benny says:

        2002 was an easy draw? LOOLL. Your comment is bleak. You have know idea what you are talking about.

        • MikeG says:

          I appreciate the points of views, but that is all out the window. Preparations for Brazil is vital looking forward.

  9. Ian says:

    I love our MLS boys representing the USMNT, but Beisler and Omar vs. CR7… I want to be positive, but sh!t.

  10. Automata says:

    I think Jermaine Jones stock just raised greatly. I can’t see Klinsi using anything other than a Bradley/Jones partnership in the middle now to match the size/physicality of Ghana & Germany in addition to the Bundesliga experience. Wouldn’t be surprised if this pushes Fabian back to LB over Beasley too.

  11. Dennis says:

    I think the 3 teams are so different. Ghana is athletic and you are never quite sure where they will come from, it is good that we play them early since defensive organization can take some time to come together and it might be their weakest point. Portugal has Ronaldo who can light it up against anybody and he is supported by a technically sound team; goals should be scored in that game. Germany is very strong all over, they will be well-organized and will not be giving up 4 goals like in the friendly, of the 3 games it is the one I think the US is least likely to win.

    Still, it is an ad man’s dream draw, a great historical narrative can be made regarding the US and each of these teams. Let the hyperbole begin!

    • Mason says:

      When you qualify for seven straight cups, you have plenty of time to build narratives against other teams.

    • Chris says:

      One slight advantage is that we play Germany last. If Germany play the world cup they way they’re supposed to, they should enter our match already at 6 points and may decide to take it easy in the last match and rest players (this is a tourney and there’s a lot of travel). We may end up playing effectively their B team after all (thought that’ll still be tough for us).

  12. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    If you are going to face a seeded team in the second round, who do you want. Belgium isn’t a bad choice.

    So maybe you get lucky and draw a 2010 group win it and get an easier second round, not likely, so when you don’t, this isn’t bad. Better than an easier group you finish second in and then facing a Brazil, Spain or Argentina in the second round.

    • downintexas says:

      If we get out of the group, I like our odds to beat the next team.

    • Mike says:

      I’ve had a gut feeling for a long time now that the US would be seeing Belgium again in the World Cup. The fact that should we advance to the knockout stages, Belgium is likely are round of 16 foe, made me a lot more confident about our chances.

      • Hogatroge says:

        It’s a good storyline either way since we’ll be seeing either Belgium or Russia if we advance.

  13. Herschel Skywalker says:

    Prediction: US beats Germany 1-0 with goal by Jermaine Jones, who gives virtuoso performance, along with strong defensive showing, with an appearance by John Brooks, (who just got penciled in, along with Terrence Boyd, btw.) Let’s go, boys!

    • tony and cupcake says:

      Jones will play well against Germany. We need to him to play well against Ghana. I am optimistic.

    • SSFC_fan says:

      You do realize that Austria and Germany are not the same right? Boyd plays in Austria, so there’s not that much of a reason to up his chances of making the WC team.

      I would understand some bubble players in the Bundesliga in Germany having a slight edge over those competing for the same spots though.

  14. Brain Guy says:

    You barely have to read this article. What are they going to say — “Oh my, we’re never going to advance out of such a difficult group”?

  15. quozzel says:

    It looks rough…but if there’s one potential silver lining, it’s that we get the teams in inverse order of difficulty.

    If the US somehow manages to have 3, 2, or even 1 point going into the Germany match, we could be facing a team laden with a bunch of German subs. Keep in mind it’s entirely possible – or even probable – that Germany will already have 6 points going into this game.

    If that’s happened, then the Germans will have already put down Ghana and Portugal. If we’ve beaten, or tied, one or both of those teams, both Ghana and Portugal will be standing at no more than, 3, 2, or 1 point themselves.

    At that point Germany could well have already put the group in their pocket…putting us in a position to snatch three more very valuable points…and advance. I think given this group…it’s entirely reasonable to assume that even snatching four points, somehow, could put somebody through as the #2 seed once everyone gets done beating one another up.

    • Mason says:

      Exactly.

      Beat Ghana and see what happens next.

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      That will not happen. Loew got the German B team here to play our National team. There is no reason to believe they expected to win. Friendlies are always test games for the Germans and the result is irrelevant. They wanted to know how the US plays, in case they might meet the US in Brazil. But they will be playing their strongest possible team, I am counting on it.

      • Mason says:

        “Strongest possible team…”

        Injuries and suspension issues aside, yes. I doubt Loew will run his second XI out, but if a 6 point GER has someone sitting on a yellow, Loew might remove that player so that he doesn’t pick up a second yellow of the stage and get banned from the round of 16 match. That said, GER’s next man up is probably no slouch.

    • Tom_in_So_IL says:

      I hope we face Germany in control of the group and can eliminate them from the World Cup. We then have an edge in the competition for German born American players.

  16. David M says:

    Meantime, Bedoya scored yet again in the Nantes 1-0 win over Marseille today.

  17. Maykol says:

    Marco Reus, Kevin prince boetang, and Ronaldo better prepare for brad “the sheriff” Evans!

    • Ben says:

      I think it will be Cameron, which I have no problem with. He is playing very well right now at that position at Stoke. He is probably the best physical bet to deal with Ronaldo.

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      Boateng put an end to Michael Ballack’s career. So be aware that some people do things that are very hurtful, and on purpose.

  18. Maykol says:

    I feel USA is a better matchup vs Germany than Portugal. I don’t see is beating Portugal, in face I see us getting killed that game. It also helps that Germany probably won’t have Sami khedira

    • Maykol says:

      *i don’t see us
      *in fact

    • PD says:

      Disagree.

      • Maykol says:

        What worries me is the speed of the players. Omar gonzales is as fast as a rock. geoff isnt a speed demon either. If portugal starts with Oliveiera, ronaldo, and nani, the match is practically over. Versus germany, the main speed threat is reus. Klose and gomez, there two strikers are not very fast. I also believe chandler needs to be in the squad

        • Detroit! says:

          Yeah, but Klose is a genius at finding space and ghosting in without being seen. That’s a very bad matchup against Gonzalez, whose main weakness is losing track of guys.

  19. David M says:

    No sweat. By June of next year, Ronaldo will have played probably close to a hundred games during the 2013-14 season and will be completely exhausted, especially in the heat and humidity of Brazil.

  20. Mensrea says:

    I think the difficulty of our group–for us–is a little overstated.

    #1, we are way better than any other team from our pod, so any other group is going to have a lesser team that we could never have played in the first place. In some ways we were the biggest wildcard outside of Holland/Italy because otherwise teams get a fairly easy team in that slot, which we are not. Obviously a group with Iran or Honduras looks weaker by their inclusion, but that’s irrelevant to us.

    #2, Ghana is a lot more frightening to us Americans than they are to anybody else. Their rating is not spectacular and they haven’t had a ton of success in Africa in recent ACN tourneys.

    #3, but still. Dang..

    • GW says:

      The interesting thing is had Egypt found a way to beat Ghana, we might have seen a Germany , US, Egypt, Portugal group.

  21. FRANK says:

    Brad Evans has got that whiny man-baby Ronaldo on lock-down. Evans has a manly beard and Ronaldo has overly manicured eye brows.

  22. Dimidri says:

    Any chance we move our base from Sao Paulo-its an insanely long flight everywhere from Sao Paulo. Natal and Recife are super close to each other and while still far, they are closer to Manaus.

  23. MikeG says:

    Hopefully we have no discipline/yellow card issues when Portugal and Germany come around.

  24. Dimidri says:

    For those interested–very good English language Portugal soccer website.

    link to portugoal.net

  25. usaalltheway says:

    It’s funny but the US has to very critical advantages going in; travel and climate conditioning.

    European teams do not play well in the heat. I don’t know if any of you have personal experience in a region such as the north of Brazil, but it is unGodly hot and humid all the time. Since the USMNT has to qualify in the jungles of Central America, this works perfectly in our favorite against Portugal.

    Second is the traveling, as mentioned in this article.

    Lastly, I will add that it is time to sink Ghana for all of their past transgressions in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, beating our boys in the sub 20 World Cup and knocking out BB’s Egypt from qualifying for this World Cup. This is really too much to handle. If the USMNT can’t take them out than our chances will rapidly approach zero.

    This is what I asked for; a challenging group. I just didn’t know it would be this challenging.

    GO USA!!!!!

  26. dude says:

    These comments, please tell me Dempsey has a chip on his shoulder again. He can settle and lose his edge after the World Cup is over. Till then, let’s see the Deuce that wanted to prove everyone in the EPL wrong, and did it with gusto.

    • usaalltheway says:

      +1000

      AGREED!

    • TomM says:

      Reverse psychology- sucking in MLS for another half season leaves him with a huge chip on his shoulder. A pissed off Clint then redeems himself in the WC.

      • dude says:

        It’s a thought, but Dempsey won’t have time to round into form in the Group of Death. We play Ghana first. If he doesn’t help us get points, we’re likely screwed. We need him to start playing well in MLS, scoring goals and getting his swag back.

  27. usaalltheway says:

    I just read this on the Bleacher Report website.

    It’s not mine but it’s good enough to repost.

    “On the plus side, the NSA should be able to tell the USA squad what Germany’s strategy will be.”

  28. biff says:

    I am complete agreement with the poster above who sees Portugal as a tougher opponent than Germany. I have been saying all year that Germany has weaknesses, with the biggest one being Coach Jogi Low, who lost the plot two or three years ago. The team is not clicking on all cylinders. There is a chemistry problem and maybe some players have lost faith in the coaching staff. Germany lacks an outstanding forward and Manuel Neuer, although capable of outstanding performances, also is prone to major blunders and I don’t think Germany will feel comfortable playing in Brazil.

    I predict: GERMANY DOES NOT MAKE IT OUT OF GROUP G. (You heard it here first, folks.)

    If USMNT beats Ghana in the first game and Portugal wins over Germany, both of which I think are likely, then I can guarantee that Germany, is going to quickly go into panic mode and soften up for Ghana. Germany is a team that is so used to being on top that it does not deal well at all with panic. We saw that in the Germany vs Sweden WCQ game when Germany was up 4-0 and Sweden came back strong and Germany simply fell apart and the game ended in a 4-4 draw. I think there is a good chance that we meet Germany in the last game with Germany with only 1 point or maybe even losing to Ghana and having no points and with us having 3 or 4 points. (or if we can pull out a win against Portugal 6 points.)

    Cannot wait this is a dream group gonna be so much fun to watch.

  29. BrianK says:

    USA was fortunate in how the scheduling worked out. This is the way I see it:

    USA beats Ghana 2-1 (Tim Howard is the story)
    Germany beats Portugal 3-1

    USA beats Portugal 3-2 (thrilling game as Jozy emerges,…overpowering the Portuguese)
    Germany beats Ghana 2-1

    Germany beat USA 3-1
    Ghana and Portugal draw 2-2

    Germany and USA advance.

  30. Lonestar says:

    Based upon games played by 4 teams in 2013:

    1. Germany 2.9 goals for / 1.2 goals against
    2. US 2.1 goals for / 1.0 goals against
    3. Portugal 1.8 goals for / 1.2 goals against
    4. Ghana 1.4 goals for / 1.2 goals against

    Ghana’s toughest competitor in 2013 was Japan, lost 1-3…..
    US looks okay, but allows 1 goal per game against weaker concacaf teams.
    Portugal has played tougher competitors than US

    Verdict: Germany’s in, dog fight between US & Portugal, if we lose against Ghana……we deserve to go home…….

  31. STN says:

    Is the USMNT walking from venue to venue? Enough with the distance between venues lament. The U.S. intentionally scheduled long-distances between matches to prepare for this possibility? Even more preposterous.

    • BamaMan says:

      STN, you realize Brazil is not that much smaller than the US. This is like playing a game in New York then flying to LA, then back to DC within 9 days. Have fun with that. I think it plays to our advantage but still is reflective of terrible logistical planning on FIFA and CONMEBOL’s parts.

      • John says:

        Does anyone have a full schedule with times and locations? Whats this one that’s like deep along the Amazon and who do we play there?

      • John says:

        I just found them, pretty crazy. First match in Natal which is pretty far north and on the coast. Then we go to Manaus to play Portugal which is deep in the middle of the country on the Amazon. Everyone seemed to say this was the spot to avoid as it’s the most humid. The match will also take place at 3 in the after noon. Then back to Recife which is pretty much right beside Natal for Germany. Heat and travel very well could effect this group more so then any other.

        • John says:

          However Germany doesn’t have to travel to Manaus and 3 matches are much closer together.

        • GW says:

          No one really likes hot and humid but it’s not like the US hasn’t ever played in hot and humid.

          Granted they lost the Honduras and Costa Rica games but I’m betting they will adapt to Manaus quicker and better than the Portuguese.

          In such crap conditions, I’m guessing it will be easier to throw a blanket over CRonaldo and while Portugal has lots of fine players they all seem to wait in the Big Boy.

  32. MikeG says:

    We need speed with LB and RB. We need speed with our CB too. We will have to use a formation with 4-2-3-1 on defense that will morph into a 4-4-2 diamond midfield when we have the ball. I believe Beasley has the speed to cover LB. He needs to get into the face of the wingers in the Group and contain/frustrate. We need another LB with speed to back up Beasley. On RB I see more options. Will Cherundolo lose a step or two after recent multiple surgery’s? We may see a better dual DM with Cameron and Bradley (on the 4-4-2 attack with possession only Bradley goes forward). Now, the real question are our wingers and forward(s). I would like to see F Johnson start at LW, Donovan as a withdrawn striker (who moves up as a forward with Altidore, when he can, and forms a striker partnership). Oh yeah, Dempsey, I would play him at RW and also as a withdrawn striker. If Dempsey can get in the box with Altidore all the more better. Center backs…not sure. The one strength the USA has over all the teams in the Group is our versatility. We have players that can play multiple positions and adapt of game situations as needed on the fly. We may need specific game plans with regards to each team.

    • MikeG says:

      On the offense side if we can get F Johnson, Donovan, Dempsey, and Altidore near the penalty area for shots and rebounds with Bradley trying to redirect passes and go for shots himself, I think we can do very well against all three teams. They will need to play more compact and move as a unit forward, back, left, and right. Get a numbers up game. Create many 2 on 1 situations as we can in 2/3 and 3/3 of the field.

    • Gary Page says:

      I think you have a lot of good ideas, but I would put Dempsey as withdrawn forward and Donovan more in the midfield for several reasons. Dempsey is better in the air and can contest for headers while Donovan is not tall enough. Donovan is a better long passer and crosser while Dempsey is good at short through passes in tight spaces. Donovan is better running at players with speed from out of the midfield while Dempsey is more of a poacher. around the box.

  33. Tom_in_So_IL says:

    You guys think the players are inspired by the difficulty of the Group.? I hope this motivates them I’m excited and I gotta wait 6 months. :o

  34. Patrick says:

    If the African Team wasn’t Ghana I don’t think the group would look so nasty…Does Ghana deserve respect? Absolutely. But Ghana has caught the US before after the US was exhausted after Group stage battles. This time around Klinsman will have six months to prepare a fresh team and put a bulls eye on Ghana’s chest. After that? Well, Christiano Ronaldo is a Bad Ass, but he is surrounded by a fallible team, that struggled in qualifying.

    This is a rough draw for Portugal. They start against a fresh and loaded Germany squad. After that they travel all the way from Salvador to Manaus to play a very physical US team in the Heat and Humidity of Manaus. Will Cristiano get his? Probably. After minute sixty though things might start to get tough. By the 80th minute of the game they might start to wilt a bit and make a mistake. What if the US ties them at that point? They then have to travel another 1200 miles after two tiring games to Brasilia to play a physical (and at that point desperate or at “nothing to lose”) Ghana.

    On the other side the US might be playing a last game against a Germany team that has its pass all tied up and needs to rest players.

    Will the US have to travel a lot too? Yes. But US MLS and European based players are used to a LOT of travel.

    Portugal is a a favorite but could slip on any number of banana peels.

    • Pingunça says:

      never underestimate parasites and jungle fevers..

    • Rob Jones says:

      Exhaustion after the group stage? That’s your excuse for the losses?

      • Patrick says:

        Interesting that you say ” my excuse” I’m more of a casual US fan…but I do think that it had something to do with the US defeat in 2010. It seemed to me that the US had to leave everything on the field to beat Algeria. BTW you did notice I said Ghana is a team to be respected. Their Athleticism served them well out of the Group stage. I more than recognize that.

  35. Marcel says:

    Fans writes off Ghana… that makes us happy!

  36. Marcel says:

    Fans write off Ghana… that makes us happy!

    • John says:

      Who is writing off Ghana? Every article I’ve seen today is this is worst group possible. A few fans are laying out a possible strategy to get through this but no one is saying its going to be easy.

    • Mason says:

      If by “write off” you mean ” stating that GHA is the team that AbsPos MUST be beaten to have any hope of advancing,” then yes, US fans are totally writing off GHA.

  37. Brain Guy says:

    Ghana is a strong squad, but let’s nor forget that besides African champions Zambia, their qualifying group included Lesotho and Sudan.

  38. Johan Peeters says:

    Chances of advancing:

    Deutschland 80%
    Portugal 50%
    USA 40%
    Ghana 30%