Saturday, June 13, 2009

Confederations Cup Preview

Grant Wahl has a good, short article. Wahl will be on the ground in South Africa for the next couple of weeks watching the Cup. I am sure there will be others as well.

As for mine, I would like to see the U.S. get a couple of draws at least. The U.S. has beaten Italy and Brazil before. But while I think the U.S. can make a go against Italy, I am not so convinced of a even a score draw against the Brazilians.

The U.S. opens Monday against the Italians. Italy had a pretty dismal Euro 2008. They sacked their coach, and have regained some form in the World Cup Qualifying. The U.S. on the hand has experienced a bit of a dip in form in the past couple of matches. Can the U.S. rebound against one of the world's powerhouses? That remains to be seen.

Three days later, the U.S. will meet Brazil, clearly a favorite to win the World Cup for a record sixth time next year, if the U.S. get anything out of that game it will be a massive luck. Tim Howard and the backline will have to play a superior game. Howard is capable of doing it (see the friendly against Argentina) but I am not sure a back line consisting of Spector, Gooch, Bocanegra and Bornstein is ready. I am almost certain that the U.S. strike force is a not up to the challenge.

The U.S. will close out group play against Egypt. The Egyptians have proven a powerhouse in African football as back to back African Cup of Nations winners, but they are struggling in their World Cup qualifying. This match is the U.S.'s best chance to win in the group stage.

On the off chance the U.S. advance to the semi-finals, they will most likely face Euro 2008 champions Spain, clearly the best team on the best form on the planet. A win against Spain would be simply the most unlikely win since the 1950 World Cup match against England.

My expectations for this tournament are actually pretty simple, don't lose all three games. The U.S. got a brutal draw, and even four points would have to be considered a strong success. The fact is that the U.S. plays in the second weakest confederation in the world and don't reguarly face tests on an international stage against some of the best teams in the world. The recent decision of the South American confederation *COMNEBOL) to not invite the U.S. to the Copa America will keep the U.S. out of a quality competition again. USSF needs to do some serious lobbying to get back into the Western Hemisphere's best competition. In the end, the U.S. will have to use this Confderations Cup to truly measure themselves against international competition.

No comments: