Americans are clinging on to a shred of hope that they will win it all. Here’s what you should know.
1. This is the United States’s 10th time competing in the World Cup
Tenth time has gotta be a charm, right?
… and they’ve never won the tournament
2. The closest they came to winning it all was in the 1930 World Cup where they came in 3rd place
3. Their 23-man roster has some of the youngest (and most promising) players in the 2014 World Cup
Including 19-year-old German-American Julian Green
If he hasn’t won your heart yet, this photo surely will change that.
4. Notably, one guy not on the team: Landon Donovan
This was pretty controversial in the soccer world, as Donovan was the most widely-known member of the team (having played in three World Cups, scoring five World Cup goals, which makes him the top scorer in the history of Team USA).
Which may mean that Team USA is free of smelling salts
5. Team USA is led by captain Clint Dempsey
In 2012, he was named the U.S. Soccer male athlete of the year.
… he’s also a part-time rapper
Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=K6Di8QT98Zk.
6. Team USA is coached by a German who is convinced they’ll lose
Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, a German football manager and former player, will lead Team USA in Brazil.
He has realistic expectations.
7. Team USA fans are known to take their patriotism to the next level
And are beginning to pick up on the chants and antics of soccer fans in the rest of the world
… including getting way too excited
(But if we’re being honest, rooting for the U.S. in the World Cup is a pretty low-stress, short-term time commitment)
Because they are often eliminated early-on.
8. The team’s 2014 kits look a little like firecracker popsicles
Which is awesome.
“Kit” is soccer-speak for “uniform,” btw.
9. The U.S.’s opening game is against Ghana
Which is exciting because it’s a rematch from 2010
… which went well for Ghana
In 2010, the U.S. made it through the group stage (first round) over England, slovenia, and Algeria, but ran out of luck against Ghana
So close… yet so far.
This cat = 2010 Team USA.
10. This year, Team USA was placed in the “Group of Death”
(Also known (less menacingly) as “Group G.”)
Only two teams from the group can advance to the next round.
Why is it called the “Group of Death”? Glad you asked.
The German team is #2 in the world.
During the 2014 World Cup qualification round, Germany walked away with a 9-0-1 record with a total of a massive 36 goals. Plus they’ve won three times.
Meanwhile, Portugal is led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world, and has been formidable in international play: in his 110 matches for Team Portugal, he has scored 49 goals.
His performance is critical to Portugal’s hopes, but he has been struggling with left thigh and knee problems.
Experts say Ghana is less likely to advance than the U.S., but they shouldn’t be written off
Ghana has knocked the United States out of the past two World Cups, dispatching the Americans in the final match of group play in 2006 before ousting the Yanks in the round of 16 in 2010.
11. The U.S. is an underdog, and may not even make it past the “group” stage
FiveThirtyEight / Via fivethirtyeight.com
Nate Silver’s team at FiveThirtyEight ran 10,000 simulations. In 65.5% of them, the U.S. was eliminated.
Aside from Germany, the outcome is unpredictable
There’s no clear frontrunner for the second slot to advance. Portugal and the United States are pretty evenly matched, and Ghana is just narrowly at the back of the pack.
Which means there’s hope for Team USA!
So break out the red, white and blue and brace yourself for their first game against Ghana on June 16th, 6pm (EST). Oh the irony.