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Nickname: Stars and Stripes
Number of World Cup appearances: 7
Best World Cup finish: Quarterfinals (2002)
Soccer in the States is never going to be overwhelmingly popular, and certainly not ahead of the big four American sports. But respect, now that’s a whole different consideration. And if the U.S. ever wants to be taken seriously as a legit soccer nation, the opportunity doesn’t get much better than this summer’s World Cup.
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The first step was already taken last June in the Confederations Cup with the United States knocking off Spain, the No. 1 team in the world, and then giving Brazil everything it could handle in the Final before losing narrowly.
2010 in South Africa could and needs to be another massive step toward earning that respect across the world. And quite frankly, it’s now or never because by the time 2014 rolls around, all the momentum from last year’s tournament success will be long gone and surely another up-and-coming nation will take their place as the possible the next country to breakthrough on the big stage.
2010 United States World Cup Odds
The United States is currently listed at 50/1 to win the World Cup.
They are 4/1 to win Group C.
Key Player To Watch
Everyone knows Landon Donovan is the country’s most successful and decorated player of all-time. You also should by now know Tim Howard is rapidly becoming one of the world’s best goalkeepers, but a key figure that is vital to the U.S.’s hopes this summer is midfielder Clint Dempsey. He has established himself as an important cog at Fulham in the English Premier League and has also done extremely well for his country internationally. Dempsey scored the team’s lone goal during their quick 2006 World Cup appearance and since then has really taken the reigns alongside Donovan as one of the more important pieces that coach Bob Bradley has going for his side.
Best Team Asset
Confidence. Never has the United States had more coming into a major international tournament. They have the familiarity and comfort of having played in South Africa’s several stadiums during last summer’s Confederations Cup and the boost of knowing they won there, too. They have a lot of their first team players gaining valuable experience on club teams across Europe, and that has also prepared them well for the skill they’ll see first hand this summer.
Key Team Weakness
Injuries. You could argue no World Cup team has had more bad luck than the U.S. with key players and injuries leading up to the Finals this summer. During qualifying last fall defender Oguchi Onyewu tore his patellar tendon against Costa Rica, and despite him likely being ready come June, his months of rehab has most certainly left him out of top form and fitness. Striker Charlie Davies is the biggest mention, with his near death car crash that kept him in the hospital for months alone. In February he started jogging and he too, miraculously, might be able to find a way on the roster come summertime. Another midfielder, Stuart Holden, fractured his right fibula during a friendly against Holland in early March. He faces a six-week layoff.
United States World Cup Predictions
The States have to feel good about their draw. While England is most certainly the favorite to win the group, there is absolutely no excuse for the Stars and Stripes not to advance to the knockout stage. Algeria and Slovenia are no cakewalks but it’s really not a debate over talent and experience. The U.S. will find the Round of 16, but a potential match-up against Germany, should they win Group D, awaits them after advancement.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
While the United States will be heavy underdogs against England, and rightfully so, there are too many factors playing into that game. Plus, a loss off the bat to the English and the U.S. will be in scramble mode and will rely on two must-wins against Algeria and Slovenia. I would jump all over the States in those games, knowing full well what they mean to the success of their tournament and likelihood of advancing past the group stage.
United States World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. England, June 12, 2010 – 2:30 p.m. ET at Royal Bafokeng (Rustenburg)
v. Slovenia, June 18, 2010 – 10 a.m. ET at Ellis Park (Johannesburg)
v. Algeria, June 23, 2010 – 10 a.m. ET at Loftus Versfeld (Tshwane/Pretoria)
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