The World Cup Draw was far from kind to Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad, but the Americans will not shy away from their tough draw. Arch-nemesis Ghana, Jurgen’s native Germany, and Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal stand in their way from progressing. They have been gifted a ferocious travel schedule as well and will be playing Portugal in the depths of the Amazon rainforest. The Yanks will be desperate for an opening win against Ghana and will hope they can contain Portugal and get a result in Manaus. If the Yanks go into their final game against Germany needing a result, they are almost assuredly heading home instead of into the knockout rounds. That’s a bit cruel for a team that’s definitely won lots of fans with the way they’ve fought for every inch on the field.
The States are accustomed to having a World Class netminder, and this squad is no different. Everton’s Tim Howard anchors the back line and he will be called upon to make some game-saving saves as the American defense is it’s weakest link. Backed up by solid Aston Villa keeper Brad Guzan who is more than capable of handling the duties in net if Howard picks up a knock.
Now this is where it gets scary for American fans, as the American defense cannot match their keeper in reliability. Geoff Cameron looks to slot in across from Matt Besler in the central pairing, but Klinsmann has shown an unwillingness to play Cameron at the back, so mistake-prone Omar Gonzalez could continue to be tossed into the fray. On the flanks look for Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler to create a German-American partnership against the speedsters of Ghana and Portugal.
It is not all doom and gloom for the Red White and Blue. The American midfield should inspire confidence, as Michael Bradley will be the key for how the US progresses. Under Klinsmann, Bradley has usually been paired with Jermaine Jones, the feisty Beskitas defensive midfielder, but Real Salt Lake’s dreadlocked captain Kyle Beckerman paired beautifully with Bradley in the first half of the USA’s 2-2 draw with Mexico in April. On the flanks, Alejandro Bedoya has blossomed in Ligue 1 with Nantes and Graham Zusi has taken full advantage of Landon Donovan’s absence and become a top midfielder. Bayern Munich’s young prospect Julian Green, will be someone to watch as a super-sub.
While in-form, the attacking set up for the US can be deadly, but star man Jozy Altidore’s horrid, 1-goal output for Sunderland has cast doubts on whether or not he can produce against the best. However, he is the exception not the rule. Clint Dempsey’s move back to MLS was met with shock but the captain has recovered from a slow start to his MLS career and looks to be peaking at the right time. Icelandic-American Aron Johannsson could provide a much needed spark off the bench for the Yanks. Landon Donovan looks to complete his transition from American superstar to super-sub, as the elder-statesman may lose his starting spot but his quality is still not to be questioned.