Monday, June 9, 2008

What the future has in store

Sunday was a day full of soccer as Euro 2008 action in the morning gave way to US-Argentina and a smattering of Mexico-Peru. With World Cup qualifying about to start out here, I wondered how the US would look during qualifying both this year and next and then in 2010 leading up to the World Cup.

As I'd just watched Croatia-Austria earlier in the day, I wondered about a possible World Cup group. Actually, I thought about the recent three-game swing as a bit of a World Cup tuneup except you'd never get England, Argentina and Spain in the same group. But what if the US gets a group like Argentina, Croatia and Austria? That's not out of the question - you've got a power in Argentina, a strong European side in Croatia and a European side a few notches down in Austria. Now, I'm not saying Austria will necessarily qualify for the World Cup, but if its' not Austria it will be a similar nation.

Would the US get out of that group? It's probably a scenario in which you hope (pray?) for a result against the seeded team, absolutely need a win against the lesser Euro team and play it out against the other Euro team. In this case, the US would have to beat Austria and probably Croatia. And against Argentina, well, ahem, en el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espiritu Santo, Amen.

But I guess my thought is this - can the US do anything from now until the World Cup to change that? Can the US be in a position of a Croatia, where the US is the clear number two team in the group (because at this point Croatia would be the clear-cut number two side)?

We all know how the final round of qualifying is out here in this region: US should win all five of its home games, they'll go on the road and lose in Mexico and Costa Rica and then a win, a tie and who fucking cares in the other game because they'll be in no matter what.

The Confederations Cup will help prepare the team in 2009, but can the US really be a favorite to advance out of their World Cup group in 2010? Or will the next two years be preparation for one match, against a Croatia-type side?


just another one of you said...

in other words, nothing has changed since the last cycle.

Anonymous said...

i think the CONCACAF final six are going to be tough this time around... panama just tied chile in chile (playing really well, according to most reports), canada played well (and even managed to score twice) against brazil in seattle, honduras is looking surprisingly strong...

i'd be careful doing what the mexicans are doing -- taking concacaf for granted, thinking this is just a preliminary stage. the mexican debacle at the pre-olympics should give everyone pause to think. this may be the year a dark horse materializes and gives the so-callled giants (the mexicans, the americans) reason to be cautious.

not sure that sven and bob are exactly the answer to what's coming, but time will tell...

saludos, d

Dan Haug said...

Nothing's really going to change until we get more quality players.

We've reached the plateau that a lot of teams reach, hanging out between the 20-30 best teams in the world. A great coach and an inspired performance can see us compete with anyone. However we will continue to be an underdog to teams like Croatia until we get 2-3 more players with the touch and vision of Donovan, and a slightly more consistent defense.

I could see our defense improving before 2010, and maybe some of our young holding mids could develop. Freddy Adu needs to play way smarter in order to get more playing time with both club and country. In addition, we need to develop an out-and-out striker (Jozy?). However, all these things really need to happen to get us favoured against the second tier teams.

I think the odds aren't great, but (as a fan) I'm going to keep hoping!

PS. After rereading this, I pretty much just stated the obvious :p

microbrew said...

Or hopefully, we don't get stuck in a group of death next World Cup?

Above all, we (the US) needs a central midfielder who can control, organize and orchestrate. Someone like Gerrard or Essien.

Add to that a world-class central defender and a decent striker, and the US can then play with anyone.

Anonymous said...

I would be more optimistic if the US had a real proven international coach. I just don't see where this is going under the direction of Bob Bradley. I don't see a style of play (other than Arena ball), I don't see attacking flair. I just see more of the same sans McBride goals.

The player selection is very boring. What happened to our youth system players debuting during this friendly stretch. I can see the writing on the wall, qualify at all costs for a WC berth and stumble in group play when you get there.

The effort was better last night but what happened during the previous 180 minutes.

On another note, the level of play of EURO 2008 is very attainable. I fast-forward more and more and delete the games because they are wasted precious space on the old DVR. Some pretty mediocre football.

Klinsmann could get the US there in a hurry...pretty please!


FC Uptown said...

Very good "as-if" scenario and right now I don't think you can say that the US would make it out.

Our players need to improve, true, but I think there is another way the team could get better quickly. I like the Gus Hiddink approach w/ Australia and previously S. Korea. Run a wicked training camp away from comfortable elements (like running a camp in say Holland), play any and every tough team to warm up, and run that Dutch offense and stingy defense and hard tackling style. His teams play out of their minds, and they are never the most talented. That US-England game was just a 1/2 taste of World Cup pressure. There is a mental side to the game that may need more training too.

RHYbread said...

We need to get Subotic to commit to the US and hope Jozy and Freddy develop well on the penisula the next two years.

Long term, there needs to be better coaching and development at the youth levels (9-13) and the post-club (17-22ish, college basically) than what we have now.

scaryice said...

First of all, it's impossible to get Argentina, Croatia, and Austria. The last two teams would be in the same pot. Only way we play two Euro teams is if one of them is the seed.

In all likelihood, we'll play a seeded team, another Euro team, and an African or South American team. There are very few easy teams that we would be favored over.

We won't be a favorite to advance unless we draw South Africa, probably.

Best case scenario in the draw is something like South Africa, Ireland, and Saudi Arabia.

Worst draw is probably France, Netherlands, and Paraguay.

The best thing for us would be to have a few seeded teams fail to qualify, which would make everything easier.

L.B. said...

Argentina was a seed in 06 and got a tough Euro team (Netherlands) as well as a Euro team a few nothces down (Serbia), so a scenario like that isn't necessarily one that's baseless.