Thursday, May 8, 2014

Blog 7: American World Cup Analysis

With the World Cup fast approaching in sketchy  lovely Brazil, the United States National Team manager Jurgen Klinsman needs to begin to zero in on a twenty-three man roster. There has been a lively debate among supporters of the club as to whether he should take an older, yet more experienced squad, or if he should bring in the young guns with great talent but a lack of international experience.

Many supporters leans towards the latter strategy due to the "Group of Death" that the United States finds themselves in. This group includes: 1)Portugal, widely known for their great team speed, flashy play, and having arguably the best footballer on the planet on their squad in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo. 2) Germany, considered by many to be the best international club in the world who have seen the older US players before. 3) Ghana, possibly Africa's best international club and the team responsible for knocking the United States out of the past two World Cups. Some lack of experience with these teams may prove useful.

The main argument being made for the older, more experienced crew is due to their great international experience.

Klinsman is challenged with finding the three or four best strikers to score goals for the United States. A shoe in is Clint Dempsey of Seattle Sounders fame. Dempsey currently leads the MLS in goals scored, but had a dismal showing in a recent stint with European club Fullham, only scoring 1 goal. Another likely spot goes to Jozy Altidore, a player representing the United States in the Barclay's Premier League. Although, there is some argument to be made that Klinsman would be better off taking someone currently more "in form" as Altidore has been struggling of late. Some of these struggles may be attributed to the overall lack of team success as well, seeing as how Sunderland has been fighting relegation from the Premiere League. Chris Wondolowski seems to be the front runner for the third attacking spot. At the age of 30, it would be his first World Cup appearance, but the form he has been in during qualifiers and recent friendly matches has been impeccable. Aaron Johanson of Icelandic American decent is the dark horse in all of this and seems poised to replace Altidore or Wondolowski should one of them drastically fall out of form or get injured.

The midfield of the United States is considered the strongest point of the team with MLS stalwarts Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan, and Brad Evans residing around the center of the pitch. All four of these players are well experienced in both the World Cup and international play in general, with Donovan being the hero of four years ago scoring the tying goal against England in outstanding fashion.

The back four of the Americans is seemingly the teams weakest point. Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, and Geof Cameron seems the most likely combination for the USA backline with Maurice Edu and Demarcus Beasely making cameo appearances in relief.

Fortunately for the weak USA backline, they have world class goalkeeper Tim Howard of England's Everton between the posts. Backing him up is equally capable, but someone less known, Brad Guzan. Howard has been the American's go-to keeper for the better part of a decade.

The final decision date has already been pushed back once by Klinsman because the competition in training has been so intense. It will be interesting to see how this pans out for the American side, as their initial goal will be to escape the group stage.

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