U.S. fans are terrified of Group G. And sure, between Ghana, Portugal and Germany, there are no easy games. But that doesn’t mean we have to abandon hope all ye who enter the World Cup. Here are five reasons to be optimistic about World Cup Group G. (Because five points would be just lovely, thank you.)
1. We play Ghana first. First games can make or break a World Cup campaign, so the fact that the U.S. plays the weakest of its three opponents first is undeniably a good thing. And can you imagine the surge in optimism and positivity if we finally shake three points out of Ghana?
2. It’s an opportunity to show the world what we can do. Part of the USMNT’s mission is to show the rest of the world that American soccer isn’t all NASL shootouts, astroturf and cheerleaders. Surviving the group of death, and leaving the battered corpses of two impressive teams behind, would accomplish that mission.
3. It’s time for Klinsmann to walk the walk. Coach K has talked a lot about the being proactive not reactive and maintaining possession even against the very best teams. Group G is the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. And when it’s all over we’ll know whether it’s a good idea or not.
4. We have a full six months to kidnap, poison or injure Cristiano Ronaldo. We just have to pick one method and commit to it.
5. It’s going to be exciting. No flat games against opposition you’ve never heard of. Big games against big teams with ready-made narratives that soccer newbies can latch on to.
We review MLS Cup 2013, going through Real Salt Lake’s list of “what ifs” (e.g. What if Aurélien Collin had been sent off for all those fouls on Robbie Findley? What if Sebastián Velásquez hadn’t taken his penalty-kick in slow motion?).
We also take a good long look at World Cup Group G. Laura is terrified, Ryan is feeling confident, Daryl tries to decide who’s right. The show closes with the return of the Wikipedia Game, featuring players from Group G.
Who should neutrals support in MLS Cup 2013? TSS will help you decide as the gang debates the merits of Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake across seven different categories, including: which team has the best coach, best playing style, best USMNT player?
Daryl argues for RSL, Laura represents Sporting KC, and Ryan sits in the hosting chair to arbitrate.
Thirty-two teams qualified for the World Cup, but that leaves a lot of talent out of the tournament—David Alaba, Gareth Bale and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to name just three. So we’re running a draft to get those guys involved.
A team of TSS listeners, and hopefully a few special guests, will each represent one World Cup team. Their job wil be to identify that team’s biggest hole (eg Germany could use a striker, England could probably use a centerback) and fill it by drafting a player. The lowest ranked team will pick first (hello Cameroon!) all the way up to the first.
If you want to be involved in the draft, please email contact[at]totalsoccershow[dot]com, subject line “draft,” and tell us which team you would like to represent and why. The less obvious the better. If selected, we’ll call you up and ask you to draft with us on the podcast.
Here are the 32 teams, in draft order (October 2013 FIFA rank in parentheses).
Fire up the Bunsen burner and put on your safety goggles as we get all sciency to review the USA vs Austria game, analyzing the results of Klinsmann’s experiments. We also look at the final 32 teams qualified for the World Cup.
USMNT vs Scotland: Why it wasn’t as boring as you think, and what Jurgen Klinsmann learned as the US team ramps up toward World Cup 2014. We also talk Mexico vs New Zealand and all the Euro World Cup playoffs too. Plus, of course, we talk EPL Bachelorette.
We preview the USA vs Scotland friendly and the New Zealand vs Mexico World Cup playoff. We also review Manchester United vs Arsenal in the EPL and take a good look at Houston Dynamo vs Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers in the MLS playoffs.
To celebrate 100 years of U.S. Soccer, Daryl and Ryan compete to draft the best possible US men’s team of all time. With Josh moderating, Daryl and Ryan take turns selecting players until they have their final XI. Listen to the show and then vote below for whichever team you think is better.
[graphics of the teams coming soon, but for now you'll have to listen with your ears if you want to find out who Daryl and Ryan selected ... ]
With the Hex over and the World Cup on the way, we thought this would be a great time to talk to Liviu Bird about USMNT tactics. Liviu is the tactical expert in residence at AmericanSoccerNow and his tactical breakdowns of U.S. national team games are fast becoming a U.S. fan-favorite.
Daryl called up Liviu to talk about what he’s seen change over Klinsmann’s two and a bit years in charge, why tactics are an important part of understanding soccer, why a 3-5-2 might now work for the U.S. national team, and why formations probably aren’t as important as you think. Liviu also gets specific about what he thinks the U.S. needs to fine-tune ahead of World Cup 2014, and what the long-term impact of Klinsmann’s tenure might be. It’s 40 minutes of tactics-talk, but it’s well worth your time.
… is that sometimes it makes the men’s game look rubbish!
That’s Ireland national team striker Steph Roche with a juggle and juggle and long-distance-volley for Peamount United against Wexford in the Women’s National League of Ireland this past weekend. Get in.