U.S.A are a nation that have always been competent at football, but they’ve never pushed on the the heights they should have reached given the size of their country. This is mainly due to the popularity of soccer, or lack of it. Sports such as American football, baseball, basketball and even ice hockey are more popular which means that the football (or soccer if you prefer) side loses a lot of potential players to other sports.
This is a major problem as it means that they can’t compete to the standard that they would like. The MLS has improved in recent years which means that in the next decade, more players may start to come through, and that can only be positive for the world game.
The main features of American sides past and present is that they are filled with good athletes with pace and strength, both of which are important attributes in football. However the side is lacking in technical ability, which means that the U.S.A struggle to compete with the best nations.
Unfortunately for the U.S, they have been given a tough draw being put in the same group as Portugal and Germany, while Ghana showed in South Africa that they can compete at the World Cup getting to the semi finals. It will be difficult for the Americans to get out of the group, but anything can happen in tournament football. The climate in South America will come as more of a shock to the European nations, which gives the Americans a boost as they are better suited to the conditions, given their impressive athleticism.
As has already been mentioned, U.S.A are very strong physically with great pace and power in their side, which will give them an advantage in Brazil over some of the technically gifted countries. They have also got a lot of experience in their side with the likes of Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard all likely to start in Brazil. They have all played in big European league so they will be used to playing against the best, which will be incredibly useful in Brazil.
The Americans have a youthful strike-force which is filled with pace and power. Jozy Altidore may have had a disappointing season in England, but he is still a crucial part of the national side. He is a powerful forward who is good in the air, which could come into use from set pieces. The likes of Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd and Aron Johannsson are all pushing for a place on the plane. The latter is the most prolific of the American forwards, but the others are all brilliant athletes. Eddie Johnson and Dempsey could also play a role up front.
The central midfielders Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley will be key to America this season. Both have proven themselves in Europe, therefore its clear that they good enough to star in the World Cup. Bradley is a box to box midfielder, who showed impressive incredible defensive abilities in qualifying, but it was his passing in the final third that really showed his class in the American midfield. Jones has had his critics down the years, but he has showed more attacking threat recently and he has stopped trying to over complicate his game which has helped. The two of them have impressive engines, which allow them to get up and down the pitch.
The creative quality of Dempsey and Donovan will also be important for the Americans as they both possess the ability to break down the best defences. As the Americans are playing against teams with a lot of goal threats, they will also need to be clinical in the final third. This means that the supply line needs to be functioning well and these two are the ones America will look for to inspire the side.
The main weakness for the Americans is that they lack technical ability. It is alright having a very physical side, but to beat the best, you need quality and the U.S.A lack that. Their defence is adequate, but their full backs may struggle against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil. Also some of their key players have had disappointing seasons, especially Jozy Altidore, who only has one goal to his name. Jurgen Klinsmann has a huge decision to make when it comes to some players as although they have been key for the side recently, America need players at the top of their game in Brazil.
Jurgen Klinsmann has history in the World Cup as a player and as a manager. When he was in charge of his native Germany in 2006, he managed to reach the semi finals. He would love a similar performance from his American side in Brazil. He will be facing Germany in the groups with his adopted nation and there will be nothing he wants more than to beat Germany. He has transformed the U.S.A after a disappointing start, leading them to 12 wins in a row to ensure qualification. They looked at one stage to be set to miss the World Cup after a loss to Honduras, but Klinsmann tactical nous and ruthless approach when it comes to dropping players with big reputations has helped him turn it around.
The key man for the U.S.A is Michael Bradley. His influence led the States to the World Cup after the side struggled without the midfielder’s thrust for a period in qualification, however his return gave the side a huge boost. It’s clear that the side are a lot better with the midfielder and his presence in Brazil is crucial. Some were skeptical that he chose to return to the MLS in the peak of his career when he was playing for Roma, one of the upcoming European sides, but he is now enjoying regular first team football and he can do more work with the National side, so the move back has benefited Klinsmann and his team. His box to box performances will be key in both halves of the pitch as he can dominate opposition midfields, while he can also play pinpoint through balls to set up the Amerian front line.
World Cup Record
Their best performance was in the very first World Cup in 1930 when they got to the semi finals, but some of the major nations opted not to play in it, therefore it can’t be considered a great performance. Their best World Cup in recent history was in 2002, as the country got to the quarter finals. They have a pattern of getting knocked out in the group stage one tournament, before getting to the knock out rounds in the next. If that continues, then sadly for America, they will be departing in the group stage.
Unfortunately, I think Portugal and Germany will be too strong for the U.S.A, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Germany’s Bayern Munich players providing the quality that sets them aside from the Americans. Anything can happen in the World Cup though, therefore U.S.A have a decent chance of qualification. They need to beat Ghana, but they have shown in recent years that they can compete with Europe’s finest, even beating Germany recently, albeit the Germans were understrength. The U.S.A have a good manager and a talented squad, but they need luck to be on their side to get out of the groups.
Prediction: Group Stage – Making Up The Numbers