Wednesday, December 16, 2009

World Cup revisits 1776

It's the Mancs vs. the Yanks in the World Cup, as England and the US have been drawn together in Group B. They will face off in South Africa on June 12th, and it should be great fun.

An England win is likely, but that will not be too big a disappointment for the US.

The headlines will be about LA Galaxy teammates Landon Donovan and David Beckham (pictured above playing chicken at a pool party in North Hollywood), but the match will likely be decided in the center of the pitch. where Michael Bradley, the young US midfielder who currently plies his trade for Borussia Munchengladbach in Germany's first division will come up against the likes of Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), and Gareth Barry (Manchester City). It will be very important who Bob Bradley (US coach) decides to partner with his son in the middle of the park. Ricardo Clark (Houston) is a dogged ball winner who has been preferred in the past, but he is a red card waiting to happen. After the last World Cup, where the US had 3 men sent off in 3 matches, players of Clark's ilk may be left on the bench, if not the tarmac. Which brings us to one of the most perplexing players on the US squad.

Benny Feilhaber, a Brazilian born midfielder who currently plays for AGF Aarhus in Denmark, has had an up-and-down career with a good, yet brief spell with Hamburg in Germany followed by a disastrous stay at Derby County in England. He has shown glimpses of his talent, and would be a great partner for Michael Bradley, yet a rampaging ego and inability to get aong with any manager he has ever played for have left him on the fringes of the squad.

I think the fact that England/USA is the opening match for both teams works in America's favor. All of the pressure will be on the English, who will be expected to win and win big by the media and fans, who deliriously overrate the team. The US can relax and just play their game. If England wins, it is no big deal, the results against Slovenia and Algeria will determine if the US advances to the next round. Yet if the US draws or (highly unlikely) wins, it will be a massive jumping off point for them. And it will be treated by the English press as the biggest disaster since Thatcher's election.

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