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The US was about 3 minutes from going home disappointed, but here I am, 2 days later, writing another preview post.  It’s a good thing.

What that injury time goal did for this team is almost unbelievable.  They went from the brink of disappointing elimination to sitting in an very manageable corner of the bracket.

England’s quadrant; a round of 16 matchup with Germany, possibly followed by the winner of Mexico/Argentina.

America’s quadrant; a round of 16 matchup with Ghana, possibly followed by the winner of Uruguay/S Korea.

Not to say it will be easy, any team still alive will have confidence in their ability and belief that they can beat anyone, especially the Americans.

We should also thank Wayne Rooney for hitting the post, another goal from the Brits would have put the US in 2nd (and that other quadrant) based on goal differential.

A miracle of Youtube before we move on….a great video compilation of reactions from around the World:

Thank you Robby Donoho, Purdue – class of 2010.

The one disadvantage to winning the group (for the first time since it was a 16 team tournament in 1930) is that the team got only 2 full days off prior to having to play again.  Ghana is in the same situation though and this is where the American’s fitness advantage could really benefit them.  Both teams will surely be amped up for the game itself but things could really open up around minute 70-75 when the reality of playing two games so close together will set in.

The story of Ghana’s World Cup so far has been their trouble scoring from the run of play.  Their 2 goals have both come from the penalty spot and many consider them lucky to have moved on.  This is an interesting fact but it is a moot point now; if the US takes this lightly (which I doubt) they will be disappointed.

Everything changes in the knockout round; the top quality teams have the pressure associated with not advancing removed, while surprise teams are playing with nothing to lose and a subsequent lack of inhibition.  My guess is that Ghana falls into the 2nd group and will only be further boosted by being the only African team left.  You can be sure there will be a lot of American’s in the stands tomorrow, but they will be greatly outnumbered by the number of African’s supporting Ghana.  They are the home team now, the US the enemy, win or go home.

These teams are slightly familiar with each other.  Ghana beat the US 2-1 in their final group game of 2006 and kept the US out of the 2nd round.  Ghana went on to lose 3-0 to Brazil in the round of 16.  They are a team with a good mix of World Cup experience and youth, their European contingent is strong and used to playing at a high level.  They are fast up front, strong throughout, and will provide an athletic test for the entire American team.

Defense

After making some changes in the Algeria match, it will be interesting to see how Bob Bradley prepares his defense for this one.  Was Onyewu out b/c Bradley just decided that after 180 minutes, he wasn’t fully fit or was he being strategic and trying to save his legs in case they did advance.

Cherundolo and Demerit have their right side locked down.  Bornstein was good enough on the left side to give Bradley confidence if he does go that direction again.  Bocanegra has been exposed by speed when he was out there and seemed to be more in tempo with the game than Onyewu was in the middle.

I think the move here is to keep the lineup the same and go with the crew that was responsible for the first US WC clean sheet since 2002.

Midfield

Michael Bradley is the core of this unit.  The outside is exciting but you need strength and consistency in the middle and this kid has continued to provide it.  He is the only American in the top 100 of the Castrol World Cup rankings, and at number 48 he is above players like Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi.  Let’s not be ridiculous, to claim he is better than either is absurd, but this should give you a good idea for the level he is playing at.  Tomorrow, however, is a new stage for him though and he must maintain the composure he has shown thus far.

BB has been unnaturally inconsistent with his son’s partner though.  Through 3 games there have been 3 different starters in that position.  I thought Edu was pretty good on Wednesday and can provide a goal scoring touch which Ricardo Clark can’t match.  Other than that though, neither has really distinguished himself.  My concern with Clark is that tomorrow will mark 2 weeks since he last played; if he takes time to get himself back up to game speed, it could cause early issues.

Donovan and Dempsey are clearly preferred on the outside of the 4 midfielder formation, the right and left respectively thus far.  They compliment each other very well.  I would like to see BB be a little more free with alternating them if they are having trouble getting good time on the ball.  He has shown a willingness to move Dempsey upfront as well, but only been when he feels the need to switch things up and push for a goal.

Pushing him up would allow for Benny Feilhaber to start.  Possibly a better option than any of the other strikers.  Feilhaber has played very well in some significant time off the bench over the last two group games.  He is a very cerebral player and during the 2nd half against Algeria he seemed to be much more on tone with his teammates than against Slovenia.

My guess is that Bradley comes out with the standard midfield setup he has used for most of the qualifying campaign (Dempsey/Clark/Edu/Donovan).  He was offensive on Wednesday b/c he had no choice, but now I would be surprised if he doesn’t revert to a more traditional setup.  Of course, his offensive approach led to a clean sheet (not a small task for this team) and it would be massively frustrating if he went traditional and allowed another early goal…knock on wood.

Attack

Neither Herculez Gomez or Edson Buddle has really demanded more time with their performances.  Gomez moved around the field very well against Algeria, did well to create space, and make dangerous runs, but at times does seem to be a bit lost out there.

Edson Buddle hasn’t had too much time but has made some good passes.  Most often though, he doesn’t seem like he wants the ball nor is he comfortable when he gets it.

Robbie Findley will probably get the nod after serving his suspension for Yellow Card accumulation.  For like the 25th time, Bradley has shown that he likes his strikers to be complimentary and you can only imagine how much he misses Charlie Davies.  Findley has been fairly positive, but really needs to be a little more patient sometimes and show a willingness to play the ball back and not force things.

Somehow getting Findley a goal would do wonderful things for his confidence.  When he finds himself with a scoring opportunity, he can’t be feeling good about it.  There is a little bit lost right now by starting a striker who is having trouble finding the net, just ask England and Emile Heskey.  Of course, if the US were to get to the point where they need a goal, Bradley has shown a willingness to insert a more natural striker…Gomez/Buddle.

Jozy Altidore is sure to start and has played very well thus far.  He has been a nightmare for defenders, continuously drawing fouls in dangerous areas because they have no other way to stop him.  He has also been very good at not losing his cool or getting impatient.  For his own sake, I hope a goal comes, but either way, he must keep his cool tomorrow.  Another yellow card means he will miss the following game if, god willing, they advance.

Overall

Vegas/UK oddsmakers have the US at about +135 to win, the favorites compared to +200 for Ghana.  Stating the obvious, but we aren’t the only ones who think this is a winnable game.  However, just b/c it is winnable doesn’t mean that by showing up they will win, Ghana will come to play and play for the all of Africa (a massive continent if you haven’t noticed).

Keeping things tidy in the first 20 minutes is imperative.  After that the flow of the game should establish itself.  I expect possession to stay fairly even which should give the US plenty of chances to cause trouble in the box.  Good service from Cherundolo and give-n-gos with Michael Bradley have been the impetus for a lot of chances through the first three games and can really put the pressure on the Black Stars defense.

Despite the stress this team has caused through the group stage, I have complete faith in Bob Bradley and the staff to have them both mentally and physically prepared.  A two day turnaround isn’t easy, especially after such an emotional win, but this is a resilient bunch and if they play their game they have an excellent chance to continue this run.

Et al

My dude, Joe Posnanski with a great blog post on the US team.  I think his description of Donovan’s goal as the most emotional goal in US Soccer history is the most accurate one so far.

This is a little random, so excuse me, but….

We are about 30 minutes from the final group games.

Honduras v Switzerland and Spain v Chile.  3 of the four have a chance to advance so it will be an entertaining set.

I did make a few statements about TV ratings last week.  I was slightly offbase as the records were only in reference to soccer on ESPN.  To clarify…

The US v England game drew 12.9MM viewers on ABC and I expect tomorrow could go over 15MM.  This doesn’t even include the countless people who will be in bars and at friends houses.  Some more in depth viewership numbers:

Richard Sandomir of the NYTimes

ESPN.com focuses on the digital records

Getting back to tomorrow’s game…

Grant Wahl and his things to watch for

US press conference coverage from Goal.com

Jeff Klein details their path to the semi-finals (a little forward thinking for my taste but no one can help it, see above).

Jeff Carlisle from the WWL on Bob, the Defense, and complacency.

Grant Wahl (again) discussing his conversation with Bill Clinton on Soccer and the World Cup.

Is everyone pumped for tomorrow?  What do you think will unfold?

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Day 6 saw South Africa get pretty much dominated by Uruguay.  Their hope of advancing is now dependent on beating France and hoping for a result in their favor from Uruguay vs Mexico.  I guess my positive thinking and continued reminders that no host nation had ever failed to make it out of the group stage did no good.

Chile lived up to the hype as a fun to watch, offensive force.  Honduras is probably one of the weakest teams in South Africa and Chile should have scored more than once.  They were always looking up and moving very well with out the ball.  #7 Alexis Sanchez = the real deal.

The huge news of the day was Spain’s upset at the hands of Switzerland; their first ever victory over the Iberian folk.  Similar to the USA’s 2-0 victory last year, the Swiss absorbed the Spanish attack for 90+ minutes and were able to score a scrappy goal on the counter attack.  This result threw Group H into a bit of disarray and puts a lot of weight into the 6/25 Chile v Spain encounter.

It should be noted that the round of 16 pairs the Group H runner up with the Group G winner.  Of course, the Group G winner is widely expected to be Brazil.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, today proved that can be dangerous, but I just wanted to throw it out there.

Moving onto tomorrow…

Group B – Round 2

There isn’t too much to say about these two games as 2nd place in this group will probably come down to the last set of games on the 22nd.  Argentina is always interesting and they will surely be confident coming off of Saturday’s performance.

Nigeria could lose and still have a chance at advancing.  However, they will know by the time they take the field what is required to keep themselves in the race for the knockout round.

France v Mexico

This might be the most important game of this 2nd set of games.  Uruguay took control of the group with today’s win and both these teams will be looking to match them.

France must be itching to take the field after last week’s disappointing tie.  Negative news continues to surround the camp and whether or not they can somehow use it as as an “us against everyone else” mechanism will determine how far they go.  Florent Malouda looks to set to start after coming off the bench vs Uruguay and will probably supplant Sidney Govou.  Franck Ribery is always dangerous but he has lost some pace recently, he must do a better job combining with his teammates rather than trying to do everything himself; this team is talented enough to make a deep run if they play as a team.

Mexico must feel a level of urgency knowing they would be better off had they taken 3 pts from the South Africans.  Once again a loss would not put advancing out of the question but it would require them to go and beat Uruguay next Tuesday.  They looked dangerous throughout last week’s encounter but were lacking entirely when it came to the final product.

Overall, a Mexico loss would still mean they hold their fate in their own hands while a France loss means that they would need major help to get through.  Unfortunately, a tie isn’t the worst news for either team so we might see both trying not to lose rather than win.

Et al

Their well played, hard fought game vs Brazil yesterday helped the North Koreans garner a ton of underdog support in this country.  Despite what you might think about the country, you can’t deny what playing in this tournament means to these players.

Gawker.com put together a funny list of reasons you should root for them.

ESPN.com’s coach profile page was either compiled by someone with a sense of humor or is an all time great example of unintentional comedy.  My favorite: “…coach himself has claimed he received regular tactical advice during matches, apparently using mobile phones that are not visible to the naked eye. Jong-Il is said to have developed the technology himself.”

Tim Howard apparently wishes he was a midfielder.

Maradona continues to entertain, this time ripping into Pele and Michel Platini.  I like him.

Finally…I heart legos, so this is one of the coolest WC related things I have seen thus far:

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Preview might be a bit of an overstatement but to try and get myself some search engine loved I have moved on from the “WTWF” in the title.  The post is really just some things to watch for from the tournament as a whole; full previews can be found at SI.com, The Guardian, and ESPN.   I would have loved to break down each group but let’s be realistic here.

Soccer Weather: For the first time since Argentina in 1978, the World Cup will be played in what is essentially winter.   Being below the equator and all means that this is actually South Africa’s winter season; not really winter by northeast standards, more like fall, but nonetheless still not summer.

Ideally this milder weather will result in better soccer. Games should be faster paced and more entertaining than “summer” editions of the tournament where games can seem to plod along at times, with players more focused on not dying than on actually playing.

Of course, a majority of these games will be played at altitude which could cancel out the mild weather altogether, but at least it’s not Mexico City in August.

Argentina: because of this man and much moreso, this man.  No team in the tournament is more of a mystery but with a strike force which is absurdly talented they should score, a lot.  Defense wasn’t Diego’s strong suit and he picked a unit that is still fairly suspect.  This gap between in quality should provide some cardiac moments for La Albiceleste but from a neutral point of view, what could be more exciting.

Back to the second “this man,” as my slurping of him is no secret.  Lionel Messi established himself as the best player in the world this past season.  This World Cup is his for the taking, and while pressure never makes anything easier, it will be up to him to authenticate his standing.  A victory for the Argentinians will push him to another level and whether or not he gets there, it will be fascinating to watch him try.

Spain is the squad if you want to see pretty football & Brazil if you want a true team experience, but no team is going to be more exciting to watch than Argentina.

This is an excellent piece from SI on the National team within Argentinian culture, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi.

The Africans: while this is all actually happening in South Africa, the whole continent feels that this is their World Cup.  Each of the 6 teams (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria, and South Africa) feel a level of pride in participating in Africa’s first ever world cup, and they will surely feel more at home than they did in Germany.

The Ivory Coast is the popular choice to advance the farthest, even if they do have to make it out of that group. However, the hisorically great African teams, 1990 Cameroon and 2002 Senegal (the only two to make a quarter-final run) were probably on few experts’ lists of the final 8.

Don’t rule out the hosts as well; the power of performing at home, in front of the World has carried all 18 previous hosts.  None have failed to make it out of their group and that alone throws Group A even further into the unknown.  The US was fortunate on some bounces in ’94 and South Korea got the calls in ’02; don’t say nobody warned you when the Soccer gods smile upon Bafana Bafana this month.

I have no idea how it will unfold and I try to stay away from making predictions (except of course if I like the odds) but I believe one of those 6 teams will make a serious run this year; like Shakira says “Waka Waka, it’s time for Africa.”

Goals: Adidas’s Jabulani Ball has been the source of despise from many of the best keepers in SA. The difference this year is that it seems they are afraid because of the unpredictability of the ball in the air.

In my opinion it sounds like whining and preemptive excuses, so I have tended to ignore it.  Just make sure you keep your eyes out for the piped goals that are sure to come from it.

Champions: the fact is that no European team has ever won the World Cup outside of a European country.  History is not on their side, and while this works in favor of the already favored Brazilians, they are still only one of 19 non-European sides.  This is bound to change at some point, but you can bet it will be harped upon endlessly if Spain/Holland/England etc make it to July 11th.

What bodes poorly for the two favorites (Spain and Brazil) is that Pele has tipped them for success.  Interestingly enough, Pele predictions aren’t just wrong but often spectacularly wrong.

Video Fun:

Now some more fun video to get you all excited….which you should be anyway.

Top 10 World Cup goals, courtesy of the BBC:

and now this again, in case you didn’t catch it the first time around:

What about you all out there in the internets?  What are you pumped for over the next month?!

That is all for today, tomorrow we dive into the fun with a US v England WTWF.  O boy, o boy!

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So this is it.  It has been 1400+ days since Italy triumphed in Germany and now we are on the precipice of the 19th edition of this, the most watched sporting event in the world.  Here in America the rumblings are audible but you can be sure that the rest of the World will come to a standstill starting this Friday.

If you can’t tell, I love embedding videos, especially cheesy ones designed to build hype.  None have got me more excited (seriously, I have watched it like 25x in the last 2 weeks) than this apparently anonymously created homage to the game…

Random Bits

Didier Drogba has returned to the Ivory Coast camp.  Still not sure if he will be fit to play but this is at least encouraging.  His ability to “turn it on” when he cares is maddening to Chelsea fans but would be a huge boost to the Ivory Coast squad, especially in a very difficult group.

Arjen Robben will stay on the Dutch squad.  Some more positive injury news.  While not the source of all attack for the Dutch, Arjen is one of the most exciting players on the planet when healthy.  If the Dutch squad can overcome their internal soap operas is a whole other story.

ESPN.com Soccer minds answer some pressing questions heading into the tournament.  Personally I like this style as it offers some good conflicting points of view on the same questions.

Spain coach Vincente del Bosque and midfielder Andres Iniesta offer some thoughts on where their team stands heading into their final warm-up; vs Poland on Thursday.  Not surprised that they don’t include themselves amongst the favorites as this team has been good at deflecting praise and keeping their eye on the prize for the past few years.

Grant Wahl provides his bullet pointed preview here.  Not a huge fan but worth a brief look.  His point on 3 man back lines is interesting and one which you will certainly hear more about as the tournament progresses.

England won their final warm-up game against a South African club team, but apparently it was in unconvincing fashion.  The US still must respect the talent level here and, once again, that pre-tournament form is not always a sign of tournament performance.  Additionally, Garreth Barry has been ruled out of this Saturday’s game.

US News

After an open session yesterday which attracted a boat load of local kids, the team is enjoying a day off today.

The good news is that Jozy Altidore participated yesterday and looked to be in great shape.

A full report from the NYTimes here.

Ives Galarcep presented a very cohesive report on the questions which remain after the Australia match.

Tune in throughout the week for my own preview-esque articles….Tomorrow = Players to Watch. Wednesday = US specific WTWF. Thursday = Overall WTWF. Friday = It starts!

Now…Part 5 of the US “Road to South Africa” documentary:

How about everyone out there?  Excited? Could you care less?  Any plans for how to watch while you are at work?

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Overall a solid performance, always nice to get a victory and the 3-1 scoreline was quite convincing.

They seemed to chase possession for long periods but I think this team is built to be comfortable playing like this.  Often when the got the ball they were able to break  into attack very quickly and get the ball into dangerous positions.  I would love to see them try to be more patient with the ball and concentrate on playing through the midfield but this is the system that they are going to employ, so let’s embrace it.

A brief half by half breakdown.

First Half

2 first half goals will get anyone noticed, so it is only fair to lead off with some credit to Edson Buddle.  His first goal was an excellent finish, and probably a look at what we can expect from this controversial ball as it seemed to explode by Mark Schwarzer.  Findley should get some credit as his work rate caused that turnover which he capitalized on.

The LA Galaxy forward then did a great job to get behind the defense and finish the 2nd as well, although you could immediately see the responsible defender recognize his error and bury his head in his  hands.

Between him and Robbie Findley, they are each very different players.   Buddle is a more natural goal scorer and target striker, he does seem to be lacking in control and vision though.  Findley offers more speed, one on one ability, and creativity with the ball.  It is an interesting pairing up top if Altidore does end up missing out on next weekend.

Overall though I think Martin Tyler summed it up best in about the 41st minutes with this gem, “with the ball the US have a fair amount to offer, with out the ball it hasn’t been quite so good”.

The US seemed to chase for long periods and were content to let Australia play with the ball in the middle of the park.  This often led to them getting the ball in more dangerous areas eventually.  The Australians showed excellent patience in build up and it was only really the final product which was lacking.

Second Half

A rough afternoon continued for Robbie Findley, missing another sitter which can’t bode well for his confidence.  To state the obvious, the US needs their strikers to finish and if he’s not doing that, can BB really afford to give him a chance in a meaningful game?

Of course right after the miss, he does excellent along the wing to turn defending into attacking in a split second.  Maybe his real role is on the wing.

I am surprised that Ricardo Clark saw all 90 minutes, it is amazing to me how someone who is playing a central midfield role can disappear for such long stretches of time.  Being that him and Maurice Edu are so similar, you would think that BB would like to get a good look at each one last time.

Maybe he wanted to try to establish some more chemistry but looks like he might have paid for it as Clark limped off at the end.  Never want to see anyone limp off the field in a friendly, especially one this close to the World Cup.

One of the major issues was the number of balls that just seemed to meander through the box.  Whether it’s defenders not wanting to take a chance or the tentativeness that comes with returning from injury, it was very unnerving to see corners and crosses continually just bounce through very dangerous areas.  Stronger strikers salivate over things like that….aka Wayne Rooney.

Herculez Gomez scoring at the end was very positive.  The ball from Donovan was very dangerous and Herculez’s finish was calm and clinical.  Between him and Buddle, this team will have the ability to score off the bench.

Cherundolo should also get credit for an excellent game.  He combines very well with Donovan along the right side, did very well to create space and provided an excellent ball for Buddle’s second.

It was interesting to see Donovan stay on the right and Dempsey on the left the whole time.  Donovan shed some light on this after the game, mentioning that it will probably depend on the opponent.  Continues with BB’s theme of versatility, personally a huge fan.

On the Jozy Altidore front, he did do some running today as was reported prior to the game.  He will do some light training again tomorrow, followed by a day off for everyone on Monday.  Tuesday will probably be the one remaining maximum session and that should provide some more insight into Jozy’s status for next Saturday.

Other Stuff

Two new injury updates on other squads.

Arjen Robben hurt his hamstring in the Netherlands final warm up and did not travel to SA with the Dutch team. A huge blow to them; although they are not lacking offensive talent, Robben has been in impeccable form lately and I was really looking forward to watching him.  Hopefully he can come back for at least some of the games.

John Obi Mikel has removed himsel from the Nigerian squad due to a knee injury. English speakers might call this a blow as Mikel’s name is known due to his time at Chelsea.  I don’t know enough to shed light on how Nigeria might respond to this setback.

Finally, Part 4 of the “Road to South Africa” documentary on the US National Team…take a look…

Look for a mix of US and non US related content coming this week.  Under a week!

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Let’s start it off with Part 3 of the continuing “Road to South Africa” Documentary….

This is really good stuff that takes a look at the whole process (often forgotten, overlooked, or just ignored) the US took to get to this point.  There are 6 of them total I think so keep your eyes out for the remaining 3 of them leading up to June 12th.

Injury Updates

Apparently Jozy Altidore sprained his ankle and is now in question for Saturday’s final warm-up game.

Seems to be only mild and his status for the 12th doesn’t sound jeopardized.  Would love to see him play on Saturday but let’s keep in mind what the real goal is here.  I have complete faith in Bob Bradley and co handling this appropriately.

Additionally, Carlos Bocanegra sat out yesterday’s session but was back in action today.  A good sign as going into the first game with out their captain would be tough, not to mention the gaping hole it would leave at left back.

Dempsey

Luke Cyphers from ESPN.com takes an in-depth look at Clint Dempsey and the puzzling discrepancy between his status here and in the UK.

He does seem to get a bad rap for being lazy, which is obviously not the case.  As he himself claims, he does not shy away from the spotlight and has a record of coming up with big goals.  My one issue is that when employed too wide or deep, he plays with the ball a little too much and tries to do to much.  This issue seems resolve itself when he is played closer to the goal, a key reason I think he is the best option alongside Mr. Altidore.

He is obviously a key component of this team and looks to be poised for a very strong showing; a successful tournament could see him somewhere other than Fulham come August.

Dempsey’s ability to shut out the opinion of people like me is a key attribute though and one which is invaluable wherever he plays.  Bob Bradley agrees.

“If you’re a good player, a lot is expected, whether it’s for your club or your national team,” says U.S. coach Bob Bradley. “At the end of every game, there will be all sorts of thoughts about how well you played. You have to be above all that.”

I am more and more impressed with the mental approach of this team as the tournament approaches; I believe BB deserves a lot of the credit for this strength.

Cyphers also gives a brief primer on how the international game has evolved and maybe even suffered in the past ~20 years due to the relaxation of European employment laws.

Expectations

Noah Davis from Goal.com takes a look at the expectations and progression of the US team heading into this World Cup.

Alexi Lalas’s point is one of the best of the article, big fan of the lack of bs.

“I don’t even think getting to the second round is something that we should necessarily applaud….I think it’s expected this time. I think if this team doesn’t get out of this group, American soccer fans should be disappointed, and I would consider it a failure. That’s a good situation to be in because not too long ago, people really didn’t care. Now there are much higher expectations.”

Got to agree with him as well.  If the US wants recognition as a legitimate, if not top level, soccer nation they must produce consistently.  2006 was an opportunity to do that but ultimately the team wasn’t ready and they didn’t get the bounces necessary to overcome this.  As Davis states…

In ’02, Bruce Arena’s team caught all the bounces and were hailed as conquering heroes; in ’06, they didn’t and were branded as failures. Soccer is a cruel mistress.

Soccer should actually be replaced with “Sport,” just ask Armando Galarraga, but let’s not split hairs here.  Circumstances outside of a player’s control will impact this tournament (see Ireland vs France) but a true measure of the strongest teams will be which actually create their own destiny (Nike’s whole WC ad campaign is based on this).

The pressure is now on the US to emerge as one of two teams from their group.  They no longer have the luxury of being an underdog.  To compete and succeed as one of the teams expected to advance to the final 16 is only the first step for this team.  Let’s stay focused on that though and look ahead when the time comes.

NYC

My hometown has seemingly been ready for the World Cup since the middle of May.  Bars started promoting themselves as outposts for watching the games with statements like “Watch all the World Cup Games HERE!”  We can all agree that soccer is gaining momentum in this country but no one was making plans for random World Cup games prior to June.  Things now are really picking up though…

Time Out NY has a whole “guide” to the tournament; really just a listing of bars to watch the games at.  There is this gem of an etiquette guide though.  Most of the time, these things are just cheap excuses for editorial and lessons in why American’s are ignorant about the sport.  This one is actually quite well researched and reported.  My personal favorites:

Don’t: Sneer at Americans saying “soccer” if you’re American yourself. No one likes a know-it-all.
Don’t: Sneer at Americans saying “soccer” if you’re European; you’re snooty enough already.
Do: Sneer at people who hold court about how “soccer is for wimps.” Why are you here?

and

Don’t: Call American Clint Dempsey one of the best strikers in the English Premier League.
Do: Recognize his achievement of competing regularly and successfully in the English Premier League.

Overall just a solid, tounge in cheek look at how to not look like a dumbass.

Additionally, there seems to be an explosion of pop-up viewing locations.  Sneaker companies seem to be on top of it with both Puma City (and the parties) at the South Street Seaport and Nike’s Bowery Stadium.

There is also seemingly unaffliated Play Beautiful World Cup Experience on Mulberry St.  This one is the most intriguing as they are offering a mini stadium in which to watch the games along with official gear from various suppliers, retro uniforms, a PS3 gaming station, a concession stand, and I am sure other fun stuff.  The venue is pretty small and most of the convenient game times have all “sold out.”  I am going to try to stop by at some point, even if it is just to see what they put together.

What about everyone out there?  How are you planning on watching the games? …especially considering the inopportune time most of them will be on out here…

One last note….I usually love Beano Cook b/c of his unabashed biased towards Joe Paterno and PSU football but this video makes him sound ridiculous. If you know anyone who isn’t catching “World Cup Fever” (whatever that is), make sure they know this senile man is their company.

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With it now being June, and June meaning the World Cup is only like 9 days away…it’s time for a flood of World Cup Content.

Today you get a whole big mix of stuff.

I found this today, it is a British commercial with Wayne Rooney for Coca Cola promoting their best celebration contest (An awesome contest idea btw).  I think he approaches a Peyton Manning level of acting here.

Grant Wahl provides a pre-World Cup Power Rankings for all the teams in the World Cup.  I think Power Rankings are dumb and usually just an excuse for a story.  It is kind of interesting to get his input on all the teams, but to call them Power Rankings seems to try to legitimize it more than is really true.

Some fun American focused stuff now…

Official roster numbers in case you were waiting to customize a jersey.

This is an awesome blog post from John O’Brien (yes this John O’Brien who set off the American’s 2002 WC run) for the NYTimes.  He provides great insight into the team mentality at this point and also makes some excellent points about the US’s playing style.

“It is also in our best interest to see ourselves differently: Any time the American team has felt outwardly confident, we have dropped the ball. In 2002, results against Portugal and Korea made us confident enough to think we could handle Poland. Not true, 1-3. In 2006, Czech Republic seemed manageable, 0-3. Oops!”

His tactical observations are also dead on and his lessons from his Dutch days should be heeded by anybody with an interest in the game.

A post from Jere Longman, also of the NYTimes on the American’s living conditions for the next 3-7 weeks.

Finally… a bunch of videos from the WWL as they continue their hype machine in the build up to June 11th and even moreso, June 12th…

Landon in a SportsCenter Commercial

Jozy in a SportsCenter Commercial

Have they really made it or are most people who are watching those thinking “who are these guys?” or “oh yea, I think that white guy plays soccer”….the uniforms help but let’s be realistic, this is America.

Finally…a cool commercial which should get you pretty pumped for June 12th…

That’s all for now…stay tuned for more fun in the coming days.

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