Throughout the 2014 World Cup, New England Revolution forward Patrick Mullins, who maintains his own blog, will give us a player’s perspective on the tournament. Below is the second installment, read the first piece here.
The United States wasn’t given much of a chance entering the World Cup. They were drawn into what many have called the “Group of Death.’’
But nothing is a sure thing until the games are played and the results are earned.
So far, the US has earned everything they have gotten. What they’ve got is a real chance to advance. They have picked up four points in the first two games against Ghana and Portugal.
The United States’ success has come from the team’s ability to be dynamic.
The opening game against Ghana called for a gritty defensive performance. That is exactly what the US delivered. They defended heroically and picked up timely goals on their way to victory.
The second game against Portugal was a completely different story. The Americans displayed an aggressive style with quality in the attack. Their approach earned them a point after a late Portuguese game-tying goal.
The US now sit tied for first in the “Group of Death’’ with four points. The team has matched their dynamic performances with the business of getting results. Now, the US can advance with a win or tie against Germany.
The biggest challenge to the USA advancing is not Germany, who is the 2nd ranked team in the world according to FIFA. Rather, the challenge they must face in the days leading up to the game.
Will the players’ bodies be able to recover?
This has occupied most of the talk in the buildup to the game. The US is seemingly at a disadvantage by playing their previous game in the blistering weather conditions in Manaus. Not to mention, the 1,624.6 miles they must travel from their camp in Sao Paolo to their final group game in Recife. And on top of it all, the US has one less day of recovery than the Germans.
Yes, they have a further distance to travel. Yes, their last game was in gasping humidity. And yes, they do have one less day of rest.
But, they do have two things going for them.
They are a deep team, and they are a young team.
Before they even arrived in Brazil, two of the bigger headlines were the team’s average age (27.3 years old) and who wasn’t included in the team (Landon Donovan).
Now on the verge of advancing out the group, I think the team’s depth and youth will be key to getting the result they need against Germany.
Substitutes like John Brooks, Chris Wondolowski, and DeAndre Yedlin have been key to the US. All three players have shown the depth of this team throughout the tournament. Brooks’ game-winning goal can’t be overstated, but Wondolowski and Yedlin were also both sparks off the bench against Portugal.
Due to less recovery time, the team’s depth will be called upon again to make a difference in their final group game.
The inexperience of the team was called into question before the World Cup began. But now, I think youth will play to the United States’ advantage.
With less time in-between games, the younger players will be able to recover more quickly. They have played long enough that they know their bodies. They will take the steps necessary to recover, and they will be ready to perform against Germany.
While the odds are against the US, they have every reason to be confident that they will be ready.
They were questioned going into the “Group of Death’’ about how they would perform. Now, they find themselves in a great position to advance.
They just have one last thing to do.
A tie would do just fine too.