The day has finally come, as on Monday the US Men’s National Team will take to the pitch for their first match of the 2014 World Cup, taking on Ghana.
After winning Group C in 2010 and advancing past group play for the first time since 2002, the US team faces a tall task this year, as they were placed in Group G along with Ghana, Germany, and Portugal, in the group recognized as this year’s “Group of Death.”
Before the games get underway for the US, several members of the New England Revolution chimed in on their views for the Americans’ chances in the World Cup.
“They’re clearly the underdogs; everyone has stated that,” said Revolution GM Mike Burns in audio released by the team. “It’s a tournament and anything can happen; clearly they’re going to be the underdogs going when you’re playing against the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams in the world.
“They have to be ultra focused and ultra ready because they are playing some very, very good teams and they’re going to have to play their best to kind of shock the world.”
This will be the first World Cup for the US under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann after Bob Bradley led the team from 2007-2011.
“I think they’ve come a long way under Jurgen Klinsmann,” said forward Charlie Davies. “I think in the beginning it was a little rough and shaky, and I think that was due to the change, it’s such a big change in the demands that Jurgen Klinsmann has on each player.”
Klinsmann’s tenure got off to a rocky start as the team adjusted to his new coaching style, but improved greatly over the past two years, including a 4-3 victory over World No. 2 Germany in June 2013 friendly and winning the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup title over Panama.
“I would say to not really focus on what outside people are thinking or saying would be the biggest thing [Klinsmann] is probably preaching to them; just trying to instill confidence in them,” said Revs forward Teal Bunbury. “Obviously, tactically they have all of that figured out, but I feel like for the most part it’s just going out there, being able to enjoy the opportunity, not try to get too caught up in the emotional aspect of it.
“I feel like he’s telling them to be mentally prepared for it, be able to enjoy it, have fun, and have confidence.”
Bunbury believes that an X-factor for the US will be defender Matt Besler, Bunbury’s former Sporting Kansas City teammate who is playing in his first World Cup.
“I really think Matt Besler will be a breakout star,” he said. “Having played with him in Kansas City for four years, he’s an outstanding player, and I feel like he is really going to have a great World Cup.”
“It’s a great thing to see them going into the World Cup,” Davies said. “I think they’re confident and they know they have a big job to do, starting with Ghana, which is a great first game in that group, so I think if they continue to do what they’ve been doing, I think they’ll get the results they need to advance.”Jeff Pini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JeffPini