If you remember, I told you back in September that the US qualified for the World Cup. Since then, I’ve been predicting that America will make it to the semi-finals this time around. This is the strongest American team since I started following soccer when we had the world cup here. (By “here” I mean America, of course. If you don’t remember, we had a world cup here back in 1994. We didn’t do very well, but Alexi Lalas almost became a celebrity.)
This difference this year is that Bruce Arena (the American coach) actually has a bevy of dudes to choose from, rather than trying to string together 23 decent players like we’ve been doing for the last 30 years.
Recently, then announce the initial group draws for the first round. (For the first round, four teams get drawn together and each team plays each other team once. The top two teams from each group move on to the round of 16, single elimination.) And here’s the rub, we were drawn into a group with the Czech Republic and Italy. I know what you are thinking, “Czech Republic…big deal there.” Well, Sonny Jim, they are ranked #2 right behind Brazil. (And for those of you who scoff at US soccer, America is ranked #4. Not bad for a country whose populous isn’t generally aware of one of the biggest world sporting events ever.)
Here’s our group (brought to you by Budweiser):
Usually with the initial draws, though random, there are two clear favored teams that are expected to advance. But here, someone big is going out right away. Worst still, our first game is the Czech Republic, and second is Italy. Nail-biting action already!
Here is the match schedule (brought to you by Emirates Airline):
I know this means nothing to you, but MAN, I am already tense! Keep your fingers crossed, if not in support of them, then in support of me.
I’ll bring you another World Cupdate when Bruce Arena announces the team his is taking to Germany.