Thursday, June 08, 2006

What are our chances?

So what are the USA's chances in the 2006 World Cup?

I already posted that I think that the USA will not make it out of the First Group Phase. Considering the history of the US National Team, they have failed to really do anything on European soil. They have beaten Poland, wow. Against any major European side, they have yet to really do anything of merit. Looking at their group, they will be facing two major European sides, the Czech Republic and Italy. Not only do they have to face them, but the face them first and second. So, with the history in mind, facing two major European sides in the first round does not look promising for the USA.

The US has had a very difficult time finishing their scoring chances as of late. Against Poland, again, the one team they have defeated on European soil, they won 1-0, when the scoreline should have really been 3-1 or so. Against the Czechs and the Italians, the US will be facing far tougher and more difficult and disciplined defenses and goal keepers. Rigid defenses + questionable finishing + poor history = First Round Exit.

So if this is what I think and I have already said that I see Italy and the Czech Republic advancing out of the group, why am I posting this? Because with the more I read about how many injuries the Czechs and the Italians are getting saddled with, the more I am starting to think that the USA might be able to slip into that second place spot in the Group. Stranger things have happened, the defending World Cup Champion could fail to score a goal and lose all three first round matches and go home, just as France did in 2002.

Czech Injuries
The Czechs are the first opponents of the USA and they already have lost one of their main playmakers, Vladimir Smicer was dropped from the roster with a hamstring injury. Midfielder Pavel Nedved stopped training with the side today, with a knee injury that forced him to quit training. If that knee injury doesn't get better, he too could miss the first match. Striker Milan Baros also sat on the sidelines today, not training with a strained left foot. He is racing to be fit for the opening match. If the Czech Republic is forced to either not play these two players, or start them when they are not 100%, the USA and its speed on the wings, could definitely exploit these weaknesses. If they start these two guys and end up having to sub them out early due to re-aggravating things, the Czech game plan would definitely be forced to change, boding well for the US side. Due to these injuries, and we will know more about their health status as the weekend goes by, the US could steal at least a point, and if things get really bad, they could steal a 1-0 victory on a counter.
USA - 3 points

Italian Injuries
The Italians are a different situation. They currently have Gianluca Zambrotta, Gennaro Gattuso and Alessandro Nesta nursing injuries along with Francesco Totti trying to regain his form from a leg break during the Serie A season. If the Italians are forced to play hurt against Ghana, they could very well drop points against Michael Essian and his countrymen. If Italy drops points to Ghana, say a 1-1 draw that would put the US in a much better position for their match against the Italians. The Italians would be much more pressed for a victory against the USA in their second match, which might lend them to play a little too far forward, leaving them open for a good counter, say a Donovan/Convey attack.
USA - 1 point

As of right now, Ghana and the USA look to be the two sides in Group E that do not have any fitness question marks. If we can get the 3 points against a depleted Czech side and at least a point against the Italians, then 1 more point against Ghana would damn near put the US into the second round and a most likely match up against Brasil. We get 3 points against Ghana and we could even pick up first in the group, which might set up a 2nd round match with the Socceroos of Australia.

USA - 3/1 points

Ok, so I can dream yeah?

I just find the dimness of the US chances getting a little brighter every time I see a report of another Czech injury.


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