This is a guest post from my good friend, Ryan Johnson. He is a passionate USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) fan, all around soccer expert, and a lot more knowledgeable when it comes to soccer and the World Cup than I could hope to be.
I am headed down to the Natal to watch USA vs Ghana this weekend but first let’s go over what we need to know about Team USA. Take it away, RJ!
Finally, the time has come – the World Cup is upon us again.
This serves as a guide for all things USMNT and their journey in Brazil. Feel free to comment if you have any additional questions or concerns about our team or anything soccer related. Or even better, please share this post to have an open conversation about how this all works.
First, our team. Below you will find our complete 23 man roster. These men are ready to lead us to the promise land (or at least out of the group):
2014 FIFA World Cup – U.S. Roster by Position
Goalkeepers ( 3 ): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders ( 8 ): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
Midfielders ( 8 ): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards ( 4 ): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Key Players to Watch
Clint is our Captain. Born and raised in Nacogdoches, TX and attended college at Furman (SC) before turning pro as a junior. Some say that he’s the most talented overall soccer player the US has ever produced. He’s known for playing with a chip on his shoulder and pulling off some pretty sick moves (pls see .gif below). He scores goals for fun and his swag is anything like we’ve ever seen from a player in a US shirt. In short, Clint is the fucking man.
The son of our former US coach Bob Bradley, Mike has been around the game since he was a child. Known to be a man of little words, he lets his game do the talking. I think I’ve seen Mikey smile like…three times ever. He played for one of the most storied teams in Italy last year, Roma, where his play on the field earned him the nickname: General Bradley. He now plays for Toronto FC in MLS. Mike is without question, our most important player going into this World Cup. Much of our success rest on his shoulders.
Michael Bradley’s story
One of the top 10 goalkeepers in the world (according to RJ), we have very little to worry about in Tim Howard. The New Jersey born keeper is a rock in goal and a commander of our back-line. Tim has played for one of the largest teams in the world in Manchester United and he now plays for (and just signed an extension with) Everton FC, one of England’s best teams. While in middle-school, Tim was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and a battle he’s still fighting today but can’t slow him down. He’s athletic, smart and doesn’t take any shit… all things you want out of your keeper.
Jozy is another New Jersey native. A man-child. A beast. A physical specimen. Jozy turned pro at an early age playing for the New York Red Bulls before heading over seas to play in the Netherlands where he set a record of 22 goals in all competitions, the most of any American in Europe. While he’s had a down year after his move to the English Premier League, he’s a very headstrong young man. He also just scored two goals in a friendly vs. Nigeria. Looks like he’s warming up right on time.
[blockquote source=”RJ”]Interesting fact, the USMNT has never lost a competitive match when Jozy has scored.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”RJ”]Will his gambles pay off? Will his tactical wizardry get us out of the group?[/blockquote]
The German Legend. Jurgen Klinsmann won the World Cup as a player in 1990, the Euro Championships in 1996 and coached Germany to a 3rd place finish in 2006 on their home soil. He’s known for being very upbeat, positive and super demanding. He’s now a dual citizen (US and Germany) and has lived in southern California since the mid-nineties with his wife, former model, Debbie and their three kids. Some of his coaching decisions during his tenure with the US have been questionable but we’ve continued to see results. In fact, the USMNT set a record under Klinsmann when they won 12 straight matches, only 3 short of the Spain who holds the all time record.
He’s been criticized for dropping aging veterans like Carlos Boconegra and more recently in Landon Donovan from the roster and he’s caught even more flack for including so many German/Americans (Jermaine Jones, Julian Green, John Brooks) into the team. Will his gambles pay off? Will his tactical wizardry get us out of the group? I certainly hope so… regardless, he’s very tough to dislike.
2014 World Cup Schedule: Group G
USA vs. Ghana
Arena das Dunas, Natal
USA vs. Portugal
Arena Amazônia, Manaus
USA vs. Germany
Arena Pernambuco, Recife
There are so many different story-lines with our group opponents. All intriguing in their own right.
Ghana is our World Cup nemesis. Athletic and gifted with the ball, the Ghanians have knocked us out of the past two World Cups. They feature players playing on some of the top teams in the world and recently thrashed South Korea 4-0 in a World Cup warm up. This is our first match of the Cup and also our most important. If we don’t win, the chances of us getting out of the group are slim to none. Will the third time be the charm?
The 4th ranked team in the world features the best player on planet Earth in Cristiano Ronaldo. Not only can he single-handedly dominate a match but can make defenses look completely foolish when doing so. There’s also the history between the US and Portugal. I’m sure they haven’t forgotten the 2002 World Cup when their “golden generation” team was upset in group play by the young, hungry Americans. Can we repeat history and defeat the Portuguese?
Arguably the best team in the world, the Germans clearly don’t fuck around. They destroy teams. They embarrass them. They can turn it on and off when needed. This is the last team we play in the group, so there is a good chance the Germans may be resting their players for the next round. Obviously the story line here is Jurgen Klinsmann, our coach and former German player and coach. The last time we played Germany was in a friendly against their “B” team and we won 4-3. Obviously we won’t be facing their 2nd team this time and this team is STACKED. Good thing us Americans don’t fear a damn thing!
The days will be long, the drinks will be cold and soccer will be king.
Thank you all and God Bless The United States of America.
And finally… Where will be watching?
If you are in Natal or Rio give me a shout on Twitter.
And if you are in NYC give Ryan a shout in the comment section. He will be watching every game and can recommend some great soccer bars in the city.