Wednesday, December 9, 2009

World Cup 2010: Volume 1 - Can the USA have a strong showing in South Africa?

Our old friend and Senior Soccer Analyst Josh Garcia is back with the first of a continuing series examining the 2010 World Cup. For more of Josh's articles, click here.

In a short 183 days South Africa will be host to the world’s biggest party and sporting event, the 2010 World Cup. The United States has a draw that could see them advancing into the elimination round. The U.S. is in a group with Algeria, Slovenia, and one of the favorites England. The U.S. will start off against international powerhouse England on June 12th. This will be an enormous test in determining not only if the Americans can advance but in taking control of Group C.

Algeria and Slovenia are not well known but each could pose a problem for the U.S. Slovenia especially. Algeria was one of the last teams to make it into the World Cup by beating Egypt in a playoff. The “Desert Foxes” have not been to the World Cup since 1986 and are looking to be a Cinderella story in June. Already wearing a glass slipper in many people’s eyes, Slovenia will try to continue to stun and dazzle the world. Slovenia has merely a few million people and they have managed to upset such countries as Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Their defense is their strength and we all know that proverb, the World Cup is no different. I’ll say it anyway... defense wins World Cups.

The Slovenians could be a surprise coming out of Group C.

England has the most pressure of any team in Group C. Their roster is full of some of the best footballers in the world. They have immense talent at every position and are considered one of the favorites to win the 2010 World Cup. But after fizzling out of the Euros in '04, World Cup of '06 and not even qualifying for the Euros '08, England will attempt to get the gorilla off its back. England is expected to win the group and, in my eyes, make it at least to the semi-finals.

The United States has already won in South Africa in 2009's Confederations Cup and will hope to continue their success on African soil. The United States' draw in Group C could mean that they have their best showing in a World Cup in recent memory. Their biggest game will be their first game against England and if they can pull the upset, they will be in firm control to win the group and most likely avoid playing another European powerhouse, Germany, in the next round (Assuming Germany wins their group).

Landon Donavan will be the key. The U.S.’ most touted soccer player, fresh off his penalty kick miss in the MLS Cup final (with teammate, England’s own David Beckham, looking on) will lead the Red, White and Blue. He has the reputation of not showing up in big games but much like A-Rod proved in October, it only takes one to change their mind. It takes one goal, one big win and one advancement to the knockout round to make people forget.

It will not be easy for them, losing Charlie Davies to his near-death car accident. He was arguably their fastest player. They have one of the most talented goalkeepers in the world with Tim Howard. The Americans have a lot of talent, it's just a matter of putting it all together like they did against Spain in the Confederations cup final last year.

In the coming weeks, I will be previewing and posting more group breakdowns and predictions.