It starts tomorrow. I am so very excited about the fact that the 2010 World Cup is here.
Yes, I am going to write about the biggest sporting event on the planet. And, I am going to challenge you to get up to speed with this American squad before Saturday’s blastoff with England.
This could be a historic tournament for the USA squad, and it is based on a few things; the timing of the tournament hits in the prime of the single greatest soccer player in this country’s history, Landon Donovan. Donovan is now 28 years old, and is coming off a successful loan at Everton in the spring where he gained all sorts of confidence. Many people always thought he didn’t have the quality for Europe because his trips to Germany were so underwhelming. But, he certainly proved those ideas wrong and seems to have set the table for a permanent move to Everton in August if he so desires.
Donovan is in his prime as is Texas product, Clint Dempsey. Dempsey, a product of Fulham himself, is coming off a season where he made another big mark in the Premiership, and is a guy who certainly knows what he can do at the top level. He scored the only goal for the USA in the 2006 World Cup, and now with 4 more years of European experience under his belt will not be intimidated by seeing John Terry (Chelsea) trying to mark him.
With those two players in the midfield and being counted on to push forward and handle much of the offense, the team looks threatening when they have the ball. Trouble is, that won’t always be the case against some of the quality they are slated to run up against. The biggest concern for the USA as they prepare to play England, Algeria, and Slovenia is the back line. Just like in hockey, if the back line of defenders is weak, the goalie will have almost no chance. And here, the quality of the back 4 defenders for the Americans has been under a great spotlight. There have been too many times in the friendlies where the opposition ran free in the penalty area with no USA defenders in sight. This will be the death of a team in the World Cup. The strikers are too precise, and all they need is an inch. Wayne Rooney scores at every level of world football, so he will not be impressed with the rather so-so group of defenders he will face on Saturday.
So, what is the level of success for the USA? I am asked all of the time where the bar is. Can we win the World Cup? Well, no. The idea of the USA winning the World Cup seems about as far-fetched as Butler winning the NCAA Tournament (oh, wait).
Only 7 nations have ever won the World Cup (Italy, Brazil, France, Germany, England, Argentina, and Uruguay) and of those, only Italy, Brazil, Germany, and Argentina have won more than once since World War 2. These are the usual suspects, and if you are trying to sound smart around the office, the safe bets. Personally, I am taking the extremely risky bet of believing that Maradona won’t screw up Argentina.
But, for the United States, success lies in advancing out of their group. You must show well in the first 3 matches to force a 4th. In 2006, our boys scored exactly 1 goal and did not get out of its group. A similar showing would be very disheartening. Finish 1st or 2nd in Group C and advance to the knockout stage of 16. There, assuming you finish 2nd in Group C, you most likely play Germany (winner of Group D) in the round of 16, where you would be expected to lose. However, in 1 match, who knows?
I believe in Bob Bradley and his squad. Injuries haven’t helped and as a nation, we still seem a few players short of being a real threat, but I think we are ready to make a little more noise than we did in ’06. Matching ‘02’s run to the Quarterfinals would be so wonderful.
So that covers my thoughts on the United States. Now, let's work in some email as we go here:
Will you be make picks on the show for the World Cup?
Will you be playing any of the online brackets?
Got any favorites?
I am sure I will do picks on the show today. But, let's get them on record right here and right now for all to see:
Group A: 1) Uruguay and 2) France - Nobody knows what to think about this group. I have seen people make a case for all 4 sides to go through.
Group B: 1) Argentina and 2) Nigeria - For some reason, I have plenty of faith in Messi, Tevez, and the boys this year. Of course, nobody expects Maradona to keep from NOT screwing things up as their manager, but I love their options - despite a fairly odd team selection story.
Group C: 1) England and 2) USA - Please, please, please tell me the US can get out of group C. I really don't want my buzz killed that quickly!
Group D: 1) Germany and 2) Serbia - Germany is always the safe bet here, and I am likely foolish to not expect more from Ghana given that this is being played in Africa. Home continent always counts in the World Cup.
Group E: 1) Netherlands and 2) Cameroon - Denmark will probably make me pay for this pick, but now I have 2 African Nations in to the Final 16.
Group F: 1) Italy and 2) Paraguay - Who wouldn't like to see New Zealand get through, right? Italy is Italy and defending it crown. Paraguay shows the depth of South America in general.
Group G: 1) Brazil and 2) Portugal - Ah yes, the group of death. Ivory Coast is very dangerous, but I just can't see them pulling one of these 2 heavyweights out of the tournament. Drogba's cast will be the big story here.
Group H: 1) Spain and 2) Honduras - Yes. I am going off the board with one pick, and it is to be a homer for the region and put Honduras through. Blind faith, but their homer call that got them in the World Cup was too awesome not to enjoy.
Let's talk some soccer. I was wondering if there was any chance that The Ticket would be doing anything for the World Cup either before, during, or after. I understand that there really isn't an audience for it, but I believe that the interest is definitely growing. I mean more and more people are familiar with the sport and even some on the stars in the US Men's National Team, I mean, the Confederations Cup was a great display and platform for those players. I actually believe that your average spare knows Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Charlie Davis (even if it's only because of his accident) or the international stars, Messi, Rooney, Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo, Drogba, etc, and I think that a soccer show would attract an audience that is seeking an outlet to talk soccer. Like even if it's an hour a week during the weekend, The Ticket could be the first station to broadcast to that demographic, be a pioneer for the sport in the Dallas Market.
I know it will probably be terribly difficult to break a soccer exclusive show or even bring up the idea at the station but it could actually work. The MLS is ever-expanding and the appeal of the European leagues and the Champions League Final broadcast on FOX are drawing more and more Americans into the game. Even the FIFA video game has helped introduce people into the how to watch the game. at least it's a start.
I am very into the sport, grew up with it and follow it religiously. I am terribly excited about the World Cup and have watched every World Cup since USA94 (I'm 26 years old and was 11 at the time) I have listened to you from time to time mention soccer for a couple of seconds and everytime I wish there was a soccer specific show on the air, I don't think that is such a hard sell but then again, this is a Football country and mostly reserve to the 4 big sports.
Anyways I would like to end this letter just picking your brain about the World Cup and get some of your opinions on the tournament,
Who do you think aside from the four favorites (Spain, Germany, Italy, Brazil) could have strong showing?
I believe I heard you say that Argentina could be a dark horse and yes, I think that Argentina has some potential but the way that Maradona is handling the team is quite subpar, he has already called up over 100 players and surely cannot depend on Messi alone, sure Higuain and Tevez will make their mark in South Africa but everyone knows that Messi does not play the same way with the national team, simply and mostly because he doesn't have the same players around him as in Barcelona. My other picks could be England, France (although they will be playing with a young team for the most part) or even the Netherlands.
Do you see the USMNT getting past the fourth game?
In my bracket I have them playing Germany
What are your favorite players or are you looking forward to seeing?
This has to be one of the World Cups with the most stars playing, I mean, look at Spain they don't even have a spot for Fabregas! Almost every single team has a superstar.
How do you see that USMNT's group? I don't think they should have a problem getting past the group stage, Slovakia and Algeria should not be hard to get past. England will be a very hard game but England should be able to come out on top
Anyway, I'm not sure what good this email will do but I just thought that I didn't lose anything by trying.
Thank you for reading my email
Wow, Aldo. That is quite an email.
First, let me say that many of you have requested a soccer specific show. I am sure there is a market for it, but I am not sure I could add that to all of the specialty shows I already do with the Stars and Cowboys seasons. I do like weekends, too, you know!
But, I should tell you that every single day during the World Cup, we are giving the 2:30 segment to World Cup Hoy! A look at the tournament from the BaD Radio point of view. I will keep it light to keep listeners interested despite their love of the beautiful game, but it is there EVERY DAY of the World Cup.
Here is my Round of 16 Matches:
Game 49: 1A Uruguay vs 2B Nigeria - Let's go with the 2 time WC Champion, Uruguay to push through on African soil. URUGUAY
Game 50: 1C England vs 2D Serbia - I have England going through to the Round of 8, but this is not an easy match. Serbia could win their group. Maybe it goes to penalties! ENGLAND
Game 51: 1D Germany vs 2C USA - I think the USA can beat Germany. But, I would have to be a fool to actually pick it. Playing Germany in the World Cup is playing the chalk, and I better play the Chalk - GERMANY
Game 52: 1B Argentina vs 2A France - THis will be awesome. What a 1st Round Match up! Give me ARGENTINA
Game 53: 1E Netherlands vs 2F Paraguay - The Dutch are usually a popular pick because who doesn't love their style and their uniforms. I am a huge fan of Van Persie, and he appears back in form. NETHERLANDS
Game 54: 1G Brazil vs 2H Honduras - I doubt Honduras will actually be Brazil's 1st opponent in the knockout stage, but let's assume if that is the case that Dunga will be very pleased. BRAZIL
Game 55: 1F Italy vs 2E Cameroon - I am tempted. I really am, but I better move Italy through here. ITALY
Game 56: 1H Spain vs 2G Portugal - WOW. Neither team wants this. I have Spain going through here, but holy cow, this one will be very tight. Ronaldo can win a match all by himself (although he is my mortal enemy). Awesome. SPAIN
Not sure if you are a Uni-dork like me, but Paul Lukas is breaking down WC Uni's (Part 1 and 2 listed at the top of the page):
I love it! Lots of minutiae, but a great read.
OK, let's do the Round of 8:
Game 58: WInners of Games 49 and 50: Uruguay vs England: Really? England plays Serbia and Uruguay? What a lovely road to the final 4! I guess ENGLAND, but now I feel like I am over-rating them!
Game 57: Winners of Games 53 and 54: Netherlands vs Brazil: I am really, really tempted here to roll with the Dutch. You know what? I feel compelled to roll with BRAZIL.
Game 59: Winners of Games 51 and 52: Germany and Argentina: Another outrageously delicious match. I am assuming by now that Messi has thrown it into the next gear. ARGENTINA
Game 60: Winners of Games 55 and 56: Italy and Spain: Can we really depend on Spain to play this consistently well for this long? They are very deep. But, there is a high choke factor here. SPAIN
Why isn’t their flag the Union Jack instead of the White with red cross?
I believe the Union Jack is for Great Britain and the White with Red is for England. I would bet that over 50% of America can't tell the difference between those two (Isn't Great Britain another name for England?). But, thanks for your email.
Now the SemiFinals!
GAME 61: Winners of Games 57 and 58: England vs Brazil - And here, the England run of glory ends. But, a trip to the SemiFinals is thought of as a wonderful accomplishment. This is where I will depend on Kaka and Robinho to get it going. BRAZIL
Game 62: Winners of Games 59 and 60: Argentina vs Spain - I am going to keep rolling with Argentina here against all logic. I think most of the soccer world will go with Spain here. DeMichelis and Smuel in central defense for Argentina will be the key. And by this point of the tournament you have to assume that Mascherano will be sitting on a card-related suspension. But, caution to the wind! ARGENTINA
It was nice meeting you yesterday in Lowe's in Mansfield. I talked to you about soccer...I was born and raised in the former Czechoslovakia and my favorite team was from Budapest.
Anyway, I was just wondering if you had a favorite goal. Some of my all time favorites are:
Marco Van Basten
Of course there are more but these are the ones that stick out. Perhaps a short segment about big time goals before the world cup?
Anyway good meeting you and keep up the great work. Thanks for entertaining me(us...P1s) throughout the day.
The Maradona is an all-timer, and Maxi Rodriguez brought the world off its couch in 2006. Amazing. I also loved Michael Owen's goal in '98 against Argentina.
And now, the WORLD CUP FINAL:
ARGENTINA vs BRAZIL - And you know what? I am rolling with the disappointing Argentina side. It is crazy! But, so am I.
ARGENTINA IS WORLD CHAMPIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA 2010!
Enjoy the World Cup.