The United States of America men’s soccer team have defied the lofty odds of advancing from the Group of Death. With a group which starred Ghana, Portugal, & Germany; the Americans were expected to finish dead last according to critics and analysts. They played with a great deal of discipline, heart, and spirit. That valiant effort rewarded the stars in stripes with a second place finish in the group behind Germany. Many feel the team should be happy to have made it this far and the end is near. I adamantly beg to differ.
The USA can go beyond the round of 16 and even into the semis if they continue to possess the ball well. They will have to improve in the attacking third with their ball movement if they fancy making that leap to World Cup contender in Brazil. The return of Jozy Altidore from a hamstring ailment will definitely aid that process and give Captain America, Clint Dempsey some much needed support. Johnny Brooks has certainly elevated himself with the George Washingtons, Michael Phelps, and Abe Lincolns of the world. His header in the 86th minute versus Ghana in game 1 in the group stage definitely was the single moment that helped start this immaculate Cinderella tale. The X factor for the Yanks is Fabian Johnson who has put in an extraordinary work rate in each game from his right back position. His pace and creativity moving along that right side has resulted in good scoring chances for the Americans.
Tim Howard has been splendid in the posts and has kept the US from tanking with timely saves. Michael Bradley will need to play exponentially better in the center of the park if the USA want to control the tempo of the game playing against a Belgian team oozing with talent. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has done a stupendous job of leading the Americans and has validated the controversial decision of getting rid of his predecessor Bob Bradley in 2010 who just so happens to be Michael Bradley’s father.
Whatever the outcome of the showdown with Belgium the Americans have helped to unite the nation for one cause. The country literally is in a soccer frenzy! People who have never watched a lick of soccer are suddenly tuned in to not only the Yanks but to every game in the World Cup. Granted Americans do like reasons to consume beer and skip work. That’s the unspoken beauty of the cup. As our nation rallies around the lads wearing the fabled red, white, and blue we can hang on every moment that will transpire and see the determination in our countrymen’s faces. Have faith that the round of 16 isn’t good enough and that those 23 men have the belief that together they will not falter. United our Statesmen will conquer and divided the end will be evident. Let’s join those 23 footballers and conquer the world. As the anthem plays before the 4pm ET kickoff on Tuesday July 1st, 2014 we should all be singing in unison! “Land of the Free, and the home of the Brave!” PLAY BALL!