USMNT Ready for World Cup

Kristen Duarte

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is approaching, and all teams are preparing to begin play in Brazil on June 12. After losing in the Round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup, the USA is hoping for a better outcome this time around. The team will begin training at Stanford University’s Stanford Stadium in California on May 14.

“This is going to be the foundation of the World Cup. It’s a dry climate. It’s fresh air,” USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. Klinsmann must submit a preliminary 30-man roster to FIFA by May 13 and a final 23-man roster by June 2. The team will play three exhibition games before they fly to their base camp in Sao Paulo.

The USA men’s national team (USMNT) is facing a tough draw in this year’s group play. They are in Group G and will open against Ghana on June 16, followed by Portugal on June 22 and Germany on the 26. In the 2010 World Cup’s Round of 16, the USMNT lost to Ghana, 1-2, as Asmoah Gyan scored the winning goal for Ghana in extra time. This heartbreaking loss for the USMNT ended their journey, and they are hoping to make up for 2010 and pull off a victory against Ghana.  Portugal will be a challenge for the USMNT as well, as they have been playing strongly and boast the talent of Cristiano Ronaldo. While Portugal relies heavily on Ronaldo, they are more than a one-man team and tend to perform better than expected once they qualify. Portugal also boasts a strong back line and skillful midfield, which will also be a challenge for the USMNT.

The most anticipated game of the group play, however, is USA vs. Germany. The German team is favored to top the group, but the tension between teams will be between the coaches. Klinsmann was the former coach of the German national team and was instrumental in their fairytale World Cup in 2006, where they lost in the semifinals. Klinsmann stepped down after the World Cup, and his former assistant Joachim Low took charge afterwards. Since Low has been coach, Germany’s game has been on another level and the team has consistently been a fierce competitor.

Many are calling Group G the “Group of Death,” as the USMNT has been drawn into the toughest group. With Germany ranked second and Portugal ranked third in the FIFA World Rankings, the USMNT has its work cut out for them. It has been predicted by many that Germany and Portugal will top the group, and Germany will beat out Spain in the finals. On top of that, Germany boasts one of the planet’s most explosive offensive attacks. However, to Klinsmann, winning is all that matters and has been working on getting the mental approach of the USA team right since he took the job.

“In football you need to have special players to get special results and if you don’t have those players, like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, then you have to look for a way of compensating, by working as a team and having a winning mentality,” Klinsmann said to FIFA.com. He continued to explain that mental strength takes years to develop and Germany’s has come from years of success.  

“That confidence is not down to coincidence, though. It’s the result of a lot of hard work. It doesn’t always work out, but it comes through dedication and experience and that’s what we’re trying to achieve with USA,” Klinsmann said.

Klinsmann knows the US will be against some very strong opponents, but he is focused on winning. The USMNT’s ambition is to reach a World Cup semifinal, and Klinsmann is helping them create the right atmosphere for that to happen.

“No matter whom we play against, we’ll always be a team that gives 1,000 percent, and even when we take on stronger teams, we’re not going to sit there and just wait to see what happens. The only word that matters to us is ‘winning,'” Klinsmann said. Through rigorous physical and mental training, Klinsmann and team USA will be preparing for the tournament in June. As the underdogs however, they may struggle to end up being among the top two teams in Group G, the “Group of Death.”

Contact Kristen Duarte at [email protected]