What U.S. Soccer Fans Expectations Should Be Heading into South Africa
All of the excitement and hype of the World Cup draw is finally over. We now know who the 32 teams are that will be heading to South Africa and what Group they will be placed in.
For a U.S. soccer fan like myself, this was the most exciting day since the U.S. beat Spain in the Confederation Cup Semi Finals. For many other fans around the world nothing beats the day of the World Cup Draw.
Everyone is waiting to see where they get placed and praying that they don't end up in the "Group of Death."
After taking a look at each of the eight groups and doing a quick check up on each team most analysts and experts have been the "Group of Death" to be Group G which features Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal, and North Korea. Brazil, Portugal, and Ivory Coast are all in the top 20 of the FIFA Rankings making this the hardest of all the groups.
Thankfully for the U.S. they received a rather easy draw. The U.S. ended up in Group C which also has England, Slovenia, and Algeria. Just taking a look at these teams bodes well for the U.S. as England seems likely to be the team to give the U.S. the most trouble.
The U.S. will open up against England next summer. The Three Lions are currently ranked ninth in the world and boast some of the best players such as Wayne Rooney and John Terry. They cruised through qualification finishing 9-0-1; six points clear of the next closest team in Ukraine.
If the U.S. can keep it a close game then they have a chance to pull another upset as big as when they defeated England in the 1950 World Cup.
The U.S. will then face Slovenia in their second game. Sloveina currently ranks 33 in the world and finished second in qualifying just two points back of Slovakia. They were able to qualify for the tournament after upsetting heavily favored Russia in a two game playoff on a 2-2 aggregate.
Slovenia did not qualify for the 2006 World Cup, but, they were the only team to beat Italy during qualifying—who eventually went on to win the World Cup. While they do not seem like a team that should be feared all that much, the U.S. can not underestimate them and must play a full 60 minutes for a victory.
The U.S. will play their final game of the group stage against Algeria who won their playoff game against Egypt to qualify for the World Cup.
The Desert Foxes rank 28th in the world at the time and will have a lot of support since their fans do not have to travel as far as others do. Algeria hasn't had much success in past World Cup's but did defeat West Germany in a huge upset in the 1982 World Cup.
Just like Slovenia most U.S. fans have no idea about how good Algeria really is and neither do any of the U.S. players. These two teams have never actually played each other which will make for a very interesting game and will be a battle, especially if it decides who moves on to the Round of 16.
With all this said, U.S. fans should have some pretty high expectations. After their performance in the Confederations Cup last summer where they finished second after losing in the final to Brazil, people's hopes became much larger.
They should be able to move out of their group finishing second to England which would match them up against the first place finisher in Group D which most expect to be Germany.
The U.S. would have a very tough match ahead of them if they met the Germans but anything can happen in soccer. I expect them to make the Round of 16, but end up losing to Germany 2-1.
If they aren't able to make it out of their group, then it will be a huge disappointment and soccer will began to fall back out of people's minds. A great showing next summer could go a long way in seeing whether or not more people in the U.S. began to get more interested in soccer.
Now then I can't wait till next June when the tournament finally vegans. It's going to be a long sixth months but when the tournament finally gets here it will have been worth the wait.
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