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Soccer Wed Jun 09 2010

World Cup 2010 Preview: Group C

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Vuvuzelas at the ready America, it's soccer time. Our very own World Cup Group C is the topsoil from which Team USA will sprout its (hopefully) historic cup run. If you've passed ESPN on the telly for more than 20 seconds in the past months, Djimon Hounsou--AKA Amistad--has been telling you all about how 'one game can change everything,' and the US's first game is testament to that. Landon Donovan and Co. will be playing England to start our soccer safari this Saturday at 1:30 CST, and it looks to be an epic match for all involved.

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The last time the USA faced England in the World Cup in 1950, we beat the imperialist bastards 1-0 on a goal from Joe Gaetjens, who later died in Haiti when his family was involved in a coup against the Duvalier regime. The rich history, soccer and otherwise, between our two nations has led to one of the more gripping sagas leading up to the tournament in South Africa. The US and Nike specifically modeled the team's jerseys to pay homage to the 1950 kit, our ambassadors are making wagers and trading witty banter, Woody Harrelson sunk a penalty leading the 'Rest of World' celebrity team over an English opposition in Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium, and Landon Donovan has already tipped Johnny Depp to play him in the movie adaptation of the event.

USA

For all the hype, America actually stand a fair chance of winning the match. We showed our true colors in last summer's Confederation's Cup, beating #1 ranked Spain in the semi-finals, and leading Brazil at half-time in the final match. Under our dour coach Bob Bradley, Team USA has built a solid style of quick, counterattacking soccer, using the pace and athleticism of players like Donovan, Maurice Edu, and Clint Dempsey. If our sometimes-shaky defense finds their form early, the USA could be looking further out than just making the knockout round, and playing for some real glory.

England

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England are members of the elite club of World Cup champions, but their story since the win in '66 has been one of high expectations and low results. They have definite world-class talent in striker Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, and Frank Lampard, and the Three Lions looked strong in qualifying. Recent friendlies have shown a nervy team, though. They only beat Japan by being gifted two own goals, and even though they beat Mexico 3-1, they didn't look good doing it--America does regularly. Italian boss Fabio Capello has question marks in defense with talented captain Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United ruled out of the tournament by injury, and the rest of the back four looking weak at inopportune moments.

Capello has relented to the attendance of the WAGS (wives and girlfriends) to foster family spirit in the team (read: Sexy Time) and better morale. On the pitch, Fabio has built a solid system upon balance, but is capable of fearsome attacking pressure. Experts have England pegged for success this time around. and the depth of talent on the Three Lions' roster makes a cup challenge more than plausible. For England, much depends on how their stars take the pitch. Wayne Rooney has the ability to change a game, with talent comparable to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo; if he shows his eye for goal, and players like Joe Cole, Lampard, and Gerrard play to their capabilities, expect a deep run by England.

Algeria - Slovenia

The remaining two in the group, Algeria and Slovenia, have been given long odds to find much success. Slovenia is a credible threat, having beaten a strong Russia in a playoff to qualify. Though they field a strong defense, and have the bonus of Charlie Brown inspired jerseys, the Slovenians lack the attacking edge to find goals, which will likely sink them. Algeria made a shock qualifying, ending a twenty-year drought from the World Cup. They beat group favorites Egypt, booking passage to South Africa, and have even taken a game off the Didier Drogba led Ivory Coast. The surprise of their qualifying was warranted though, they play a predominantly ground game that stalls against talented defenses.

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Regrettably for Algeria and Slovenia, Group C is all about the Revolutionary War, part deux. All sorts of things are on the line: national pride, the correct spelling of the word colo(u)r, the perception of American soccer, that 50 dollars of mine--pick a reason and get set for what promises to be an enjoyable month of the beautiful game.

 
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Old Dude / June 10, 2010 2:55 PM

A lot of information to digest in this post. Wish I knew who everyone was you're talking about. Fun to read though.

Was that my 50 bucks or yours?

Calle Soccer / December 27, 2010 1:04 PM

Rooney's performance in this last world cup was very disappointing.

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