Since Landon Donovan was left off of the US men’s national soccer team rooster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, many American fans have feared that the team would not stand a chance without such a vitally important player. USA fans were outraged by this decision not only because of Donovan’s incredible scoring history, but because of the American spirit this soccer legend embodies. On top of this, the USA team was faced with a challenging schedule in Group G–the so-called ‘group of death’. The USMNST therefore came into the competition knowing that they must play extremely well against three great teams–Germany, Portugal, and Ghana–in order for the team to advance to the next round. By clinching the 2nd spot in Group G, the USMNST therefore proved that they are capable of competing against some of the greatest national teams–even without Landon Donovan.
USA’s performance in the ‘Group of Death’
Against popular opinion, the USMNST found their way out of the ‘group of death’ and into the knockout round of the World Cup. While Germany defeated the US team and took the number one spot in the group, the US still managed to advance with a total of 4 points–one win, one tie, and one loss. During this first round of the World Cup, the US team was not without their fundamental issues. The USMNST made many careless passing decisions, struggled to maintain possession, and allowed their opponents to expose openings in their defensive line. Although the outcome of the Portugal-Ghana match determined the US’s fate, it hardly seemed like they just got lucky. The US team opened up their World Cup appearance with a win against the team that knocked them out the last 2 World Cups, pulled out a tie from an absurdly close game against Portugal, and held their own against the powerhouse Germany team.
USA’s overall chances of winning the World Cup
While USA fans can yell out the catchy “I Believe That We Will Win” chant all they want, it may take more than just believing for the team to advance past the knockout round and beyond. Though the USMNST may be talented enough to compete against 3rd and 4th place teams in round one, they will undoubtedly struggle to compete against top teams such as Brazil, Netherlands, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Argentina, and their next opponent–Belgium. The USA team therefore needs to keep their spirits up, start making smart decisions on the field, and really step up their game if they wish to stand a chance in the long run. While everyone is missing Landon Donovan, the USA team still has a tremendous amount of support from both USMNST fans and Donovan himself to keep them hopeful throughout their time at the 2014 FIFA World Cup!