Wednesday, June 09, 2010

World Cup

I'm as geeked as anyone about the World Cup- and really hoping the ol' US posts a good showing. And they should, despite injuries to Gooch and Charlie Davies.

There's a good "Layman's Guide" on Buzzfeed, for the unfamiliar fan, and the reliable Grant Wahl has a good power ranking run-down.

Me, I'm not so hot on Spain, I only think they'll get to the semi-finals if Italy and Portugal are as washed-up and broken-down as their worst critics charge, so despite the Spaniards' impressive record, I still thinking of them as somewhere around 7th. I think Brazil is more vulnerable than they've been in years past, and I wouldn't be surprised if they get upset in the knockout rounds. However, until proven otherwise, they're still the team to beat in my mind. Who I'll be rooting for is the Netherlands, who have some nice seeding and could have a pretty straight-forward path the World Cup final. In fact, one of the best teams standing in their way will be the Yanks' first-game, England. I think England will be tough, and perhaps even likely to reach the semi-finals, but I doubt they'll be able to win the whole thing. Argentina should be pretty tough, and are my fourth pick for the semi-finals. They'll reach the knockout-rounds no problem, but they've got a lot of tough foes from there on out.

As for the US, I've been impressed by their ability to take a punch. Even in their losses, they've create dangerous chances to steal those games back. I'm a little worried about their defense, but Gooch is rounding into shape and Cherundolo and Bocanegra are good hands, and DeMarcus Beasley might be a surprise starting defender as well. The midfield is pretty solid for defense and counter-attack, but 22-year-old Jose Torres was a revelation against Turkey with his ball-handling and quick passing ability. A guy like that can really open up the field, and we've not had that ability in a while. Dempsey and Donovan are great attackers, and I've got high hopes for Altidore. But if Altidore can't get it done, the US actually has some depth at striker with Herculez Gomez.

As long as the US can hold off England- a one-goal loss wouldn't be catastrophic, even, they would have a great chance to advance by beating Slovenia & Algeria. And if the Yanks can manage a tie against the UK, which is not unreasonable to ask- then a mere tie against Slovenia and a win over Algeria should advance them to the knockout round. If the US is able to top England? Then they've got a chance to make real history, but let's not hold our breath on that just yet.

Go Yanks!