14th ranked United States were pitted in a rather difficult region. Between potentially the best team in Germany, the best player in Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and old nemesis Ghana, it looks like USA will need to be in top-form to advance to the knockout rounds. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has proved to be the perfect replacement for Bob Bradley. Achieving victories in 7 of the 10 qualifying games is a true testament to the tactics and approach designated by Klinsmann. They were easily in the top spot of their group, finishing four points ahead of second-place Costa Rica. Having never won a World Cup in their country’s history, Klinsmann will hope to lead the American squad to the unthinkable and bring a title home to the States. The club features a strong balance of seasoned European veterans, like keeper Tim Howard, as well as MLS All-Stars, such as Omar Gonzalez. Coach Klinsmann will look to bring together the midfield and attackers to create chances against a tough group of opponents.
Players to Watch For
Jozy Altidore – The Sunderland striker has experienced periods of terrific form, only to be followed by games where you question his talent. With that said, he along with Clint Dempsey is going to be considered one of the United States’ main scoring threats. Despite his struggles this year, there is a reason why the 24-year-old striker is on an English Premier League roster. He has the ability to score goals at-will. It hasn’t been of his finer seasons with Sunderland, but he has portrayed brilliant form with the national team.
Tim Howard – The undisputed number one keeper for the United States will need to show his experience again on the national stage. At the age of 32, Howard still more than holds his own in the English Premier League with Everton. This season, he has produced 15 clean sheets in 37 EPL games. Between his intelligence and athletic ability, he is truly one of the premier keepers in the entire world. Look for him to be a steady force in the goal for team USA come World Cup time.
Landon Donovan – The reviews on Donovan are definitely mixed depending on who you talk to. He can be frustrating at times, but he is the USA’s all-time leading goal scorer. It’s not a given Klinsmann will include him in the final 23. However, there is no denying what he means to the USA side. This would be his fourth career World Cup. For many USA soccer fans, he is considered a legend. With this likely being his last World Cup appearance, look for the Los Angeles Galaxy forward to be giving it his all to make it to Brazil.
Group Stage Games
June 16 vs. Ghana
June 22 vs. Portugal
June 26 vs. Germany
After getting many fans excited for the World Cup with their remarkable play in qualifying, the United States were dealt a rather difficult draw, but not impossible. Jurgen Klinsmann’s club features a steady does of experience and youth. I think they advance past group stage along with Germany. This would likely match them up with Belgium, which is winnable, but their run would likely end with Argentina after that. At the same time, if the cards fall right, this resilient USA squad is capable of pulling off an upset or two and making a memorable run.