World Cup Group C Preview: Can U.S. live up to their expectations?

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jozy altidore

The U.S. national team is no longer considered an underdog. After beating Spain in the Confederations Cup last Summer, the U.S. has high expectations heading into the 2010 World Cup.

For a team with such high expectations, the United States are vastly inexperienced, especially up front. The player with the most caps (games played for a national team) out of all the forwards isn’t even able to drink a beer! Jozy Altidore is the man, or should I say the young adult, that I am talking about. I can just see it now: U.S. forward Jozy Altidore, cited for an underage drinking ticket in locker room celebration after World Cup victory. That would have to be a first.

Unfortunately, Altidore was hospitalized Thursday morning with a sprained ankle, but he has a full week to heal up. The U.S. better hope for a speedy recovery because the other forwards are Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez and Robbie Findley. Air Bud has more World Cup experience than these guys. My gut feeling is that they will move Clint Dempsey (the only player to score for the U.S. in the ’06 World Cup) up top regardless of whether or not Altidore plays.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

landon donovan

Once you get past the frontline, this team is very skilled. Their midfield is led by Landon Donavan, who is the U.S.’s all-time leader in goals and assists. The backline is led by brute defender Oguchi Onyewu and if you get by him, you have to deal with one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Tim Howard. If the U.S. has any hopes of getting past the knockout stage, they will need all of these key players to perform at the top of their game, especially Landon Donavan. The U.S. seems to go as he goes.

United States vs. England on June 12 at 2:30 P.M. (ET).

This game will prove to be a pivotal one for both sides. A win for the U.S. would almost guarantee a spot in the next round, but that is not going to come easy against a team like England. Though they have underachieved in the past World Cups, England hopes that this year will be different. Everyone in the UK considers this the “golden generation” of players for England.

  • Forward Wayne Rooney is quite possibly the most talented all-around player in this year’s Cup. Watch him and you’ll be impressed, that’s all there is to say.
  • Midfielder Steven Gerrard, who is now the team’s captain with an injury to Rio Ferdinand, had a down year with Liverpool, but if he turns it on in the World Cup, watch out. He was the U.K. Player of the Year in 2009.
  • Midfielder Frank Lampard, could be playing the best out of all of these guys. He led Chelsea to an English Premier League title this season.
  • The backline took a hit with Rio Ferdinand’s injury, so star defender John Terry will be needed more than ever. I’m going to play the role of TMZ here and mention that John Terry had an affair with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend. Bridge is Terry’s teammate at Chelsea and would have been on England’s roster, but quit after finding out about the affair. It will be interesting to see how the team responds to Terry seeing as though he backstabbed his teammate.

United States vs. Slovenia on June 18 at 10:00 A.M. (ET).

Slovenia is the size of the city of Brooklyn, but don’t let that foul you, this team is tough. Not only did Slovenia exceed expectations by qualifying for the World Cup, they did so by defeating Russia. Many people will say that Slovenia is just happy to be in South Africa, but this is a team that can make some noise in group play.

  • Slovenia is all about defense. They set up in an aggressive 4-5-1. Their goal is to counterattack, get an early lead and fall back on defense. Boring at times?  Yes, but also very effective.
  • Slovenia get stagnant on offense, but when you have a goalie (Samir Handanovic) who has five clean sheets in his past six qualifiers, you don’t need to have world-class strikers.
  • When Slovenia is producing offensively, forwards Milivoje Novakovic and Zlatko Dedic are usually involved. Novakovic scored five times in qualifying and Dedic scored the decisive goal in the victory over Russia.

United States vs. Algeria on June 23 at 10:00 A.M. (ET).

Algeria is the wild-card team in this group. They could lose all three games or advance to the round of 16. They are about as up and down as they come. In this year’s African Nation’s Cup, Slovenia beat Ivory Coast. However, in that same tournament they lost their opening match to Malawi and Egypt.

  • Algeria runs a 4-4-2 and likes to attack with their talented outside backs Madjid Bougherra and Nadir Belhadj, who will often make runs up the field.
  • Experience is a huge question mark for Algeria. They have seven players with two or fewer cap appearances.
  • The most important offensive player for Algeria is Abdelkader Ghezzal, their lone striker. If he is able to shine, this team may surprise people.

Predictions:

1 – England (7 pts): This team is far too talented to not make it out of this group.

2 – United States (5 pts): They are young and banged up, but with Tim Howard in goal, as Kevin Garnett would say (watch here), anything is possible!!!!

3 – Slovenia (3 pts): This team will cause fits for their opponents on the defensive end, but won’t be able to score enough goals. They will fall just short, but for a team that no one expected to reach the World Cup, it’s hard to call anything a failure.

4 – Algeria (1 pt): Could they advance? Sure, but you just never know which team will show up.

Find more articles on the World Cup by Justin Mertes-Mistretta at http://www.percysperspective.com/

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Comments

  1. Dennis Paliwoda says

    Did you see Buddle today? I was originally think the same as you that Dempsey would play behind the striker, but after Buddle’s performance today and what he has done with the galaxy its easy to say that he is in the best form out of all the strikers. Gomez also has clearly shown his value coming off the bench and scoring clutch goals. Findley could only finish if there was no goalie…oh wait, he missed that chance didn’t he.

  2. Buddle looked great today and frankly has looked very good all season with the Galaxy, as you stated. I am a big fan of his. The only thing that worries me like i stated in my article is the inexperience, but the talent is definitely there. Gomez is also very talented. With him and Beasley, the U.S. has some firepower coming off the bench.

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