[Guest Post Series] The World Cup beyond Brazil. Part 1: the US perspective [A Copa do Mundo além do Brasil. Parte 1: a perspectiva dos EUA]

Hoje iniciamos uma nova série no Segue o Jogo. Realizado o sorteio da Copa do Mundo, todos os torcedores ao redor do mundo começaram a fazer seus cálculos, simulações e previsões. Nós sabemos que no Brasil as simulações invariavelmente dizem respeito ao “caminho até a final” e quem será o adversário na grande decisão. Mas como torcedores de outras seleções reagiram ao sorteio? Qual a expetativa deles sobre o que pode ocorrer no Brasil no próximo ano? Tentaremos obter a opinião de torcedores do maior número de possível de seleções até a Copa. No primeiro post, o amigo JEREMY STULL analisa a Copa do Mundo de 2014 da perspectiva de um cidadão dos EUA. Nas próximas semanas buscarei traduzir o texto para o português. Leia, comente e compartilhe! 

Today we start a new post series here at Segue o Jogo. After the World Cup draw, fans all around the world started making their predictions and prognosis. We know that in Brazil all the predictions involve the road to the World Cup Final and defining which team will be Brazil’s adversary in the final match. But how have supporters from other countries reacted to the World Cup Draw? What do they expect to happen next year in Brazil? We will try to hear the opinion of supporters of most countries before the World Cup next year. In the first post, our friend JEREMY STULL analyzes the 2014 World Cup from an American supporter’s perspective. Read, comment,and share!

 

Group G: Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. There is rarely such a thing as an easy group in a World Cup, but this seems particular daunting for the United States. Let’s all agree to call it the “Group of Death” so American fans can curb their expectations.

We can also agree that the seeding structure is poor. According to the FIFA/Coca-Cola Ranking, Germany is the #2 team in the world and Portugal is #5. Sure the USA is #14, but they do not have the pedigree of the European giants. Somehow, with the weighting due to region and competition, Switzerland and Belgium got a bump into the top 8, giving others drawn into their group a massive sigh of relief.

Sure, as a USA fan I am upset. I would be more upset, however, if I were a Germany or Portugal fan. There should be some sort of reward for performing well in the lead-up to the World Cup, which is why there are top seeds. I agree with the idea of not seeding the remainder of the teams, to assure geographic diversity, but Germany and Portugal still have to feel slighted. They both performed admirably, and now they must each face a top five ranked team in the group stage. There are a million and one problems with the way FIFA is run, but this weighting and seeding garbage is one that needs to be brought up.

So, how do I think the USA will do? Ghana is anything but a push-over. In fact, they have knocked the USA out of the past two World Cups. With the growing popularity of both the men’s national team and soccer in general in the United States, I think this team has more pressure on them than in any previous World Cup. Between that and the history of USA v Ghana, I think they can steal three points in this one.

I feel like Germany will continue to be the professional side that they are, and collect wins versus Portugal and Ghana. If Jürgen Klinsmann and the USA can manage a point from Germany, which is not altogether out of the picture, they have a shot at moving on. In 2010, a win, a loss, and a draw were good enough to advance with England out of the group stage.

There are a lot of things that need to happen for the USA, but this team is hitting their stride. They won twelve consecutive matches this summer, they got a draw in Mexico City then beat El Tri 2-0 in Ohio, they beat Costa Rica twice, and Panama three times. Let us not forget the win versus Germany, albeit a friendly versus a toned-down side, it still creates a great backdrop heading into the group.

“Cautiously optimistic” is how I would describe my attitude towards our hopes. I do not pin the future of soccer in America on the performance of this team in this World Cup. They have been a respective side for my entire life and that is more than a lot of nations can say. Soccer will continue to grow in popularity in the states, as evidenced by NBC picking up the television rights to every single Barclays Premier League match for the next three years. Hockey did not boom after the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” so I am hesitant to place the collective future of a sport on a single tournament. Still, America is full of people who love America no matter what, and full of people who love cheering for a winning side. If the USA can slide through into the round of 16, it will be an exciting place to be. It will be no Brazil, but it will be fun.

Jeremy Stull

 

A foto de capa foi retirada do site da US Soccer // The cover picture is from the US Soccer website

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