The USMNT come in riding a 4 game win streak and looking delightful in their final warm-up match against Bolivia. This may be the most talented squad the US has ever put together. Energy levels will be high, emotions streaming down their faces, poise seeping out of their pituitary glands and their Copa triumphs an inescapable destination painted across their futures in hipster-area, side of building mural form.
USA – TEAM INFO
Team Nickname: USMNT, Team USA, The Stars and Stripes. My personal nickname: USS Dangerzone
Current FIFA World Ranking: 29
Home Stadium: None – will play wherever and whenever against anyone
Copa America History: 4th place in the 1995 edition down in Uruguay
World Cup History: last two editions saw the USMNT go out in Round of 16
Most Random Fact: US player Bert Patenaude scored the first ever hat trick in a World Cup in 1930.
The rivalry here for the US is far and away the Mexican national side. It has just about everything you want: geographical proximity, competitive teams and fiery players on each side. A few off the field incidents but nothing major to speak of. The US has had a nightmare playing in Mexico at the Estadio Azteca and only just won their first game there back in 2012 to go with their 23 losses and 2 draws. But just as you’d expect the US has a trick up their sleeve in games against Mexico located anywhere else. They have now beaten Mexico by the scoreline 2-0 in at least 8 of the 23 matches since 2000, prompting the chant “Dos a Cero” to ring around the stadiums whenever the two meet.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
This section can be separated by age. For many of the players on the USMNT squad this could be their final major tournament. Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski will all be hovering around that “are they going to be commentators or in-studio analysts” age the next time a tourney takes place. Jermaine Jones has been a firecracker in his new home at Colorado and he never ceases to bring the passion. Chris Wondolowski has a little thing for scoring goals in major tournaments on US soil and he also needs to fill a gap in my heart after the Belgium game. But I believe the player in this group who can change the course of how this team plays is none other than Clint Dempsey. This guy
The squad is also chock full o young guns in DeAndre Yedlin, Darlington Nagbe, Bobby Wood, and Christian Pulisic. Player to watch out of these guys is Darlington. It will be a tough midfield to crack into but he has the awareness and technical ability to continually put pressure on the opposing defenses. Have a look at this highlight package
NOTABLE MOMENT IN MAJOR TOURNAMENT HISTORY
So many to choose from so this was particularly difficult. My heart wanted Landon in 2010 against Algeria but my head is saying the 2002 World Cup in South Korea/Japan where the USMNT lost to Germany in the Quarterfinals. An absolute travesty of officiating in this game denied the US a golden chance to advance to the semifinals. A clear handball and red card was not given at the US went on to lose the match 1-0.
GAMES TO WATCH
The US have a pretty difficult group and each game is must watch TV as far as I’m concerned. Here’s the schedule:
USMNT v. Colombia: June 3rd 930PM ET in Santa Clara, CA – throwing this in here for good measure
USMNT v. Costa Rica: June 7th 800PM ET in Chicago, IL
USMNT v. Paraguay: June 11th 700PM ET in Philadelphia, PA