The hype has been full-bore for a week, we have a few games in the books, and it’s almost time to get to it. I must’ve read dozens of previews and analyses of this match from various pundits, local and international. The coverage has been unprecedented. The country is ready to tune-in and have another look at our team. Jon Stewart and company have done their part, and Tony Meola was making the rounds at CNN and Fox News yesterday. With the possible exception of Illini Basketball in the NCAA tournament, there’s nothing that gets me as hyped up sports-wise as USA World Cup matches. So here are three keys to the game from my POV:
- Don’t give up the early goal. Four years ago we let the Czechs score in the opening minutes, throwing the whole plan into disarray. The teams seemed to be chasing that opening goal the rest of the tournament. If the USA can stay compact early and shift the pressure back to England, it will likely open up some scoring chances.
- No stupid calls/fouls. Don’t give the ref an excuse to pull out an early card. We’ve seen it before, especially against the more renowned teams – the USA rarely get the benefit of the doubt. Emotions will be running high. Don’t get caught on a silly challenge and get sent off. The refs have been pretty good so far in the early matches; hopefully this continues
- USA Stars must shine. Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu, and especially Tim Howard must come up big. When you’re out-manned player for player (and I personally don’t believe we’re as out-manned as many have stated) it’s even more important for your best players to step up.
We will also be watching to see where Donovan pops up, whether Ricardo Clark can keep up mentally, and how well the USA tracks England’s midfield runners. Will Bob Bradley wait to long to use his substitutes? If our boys go down early or a tie seems imminent, will we press and sub to score? Who will win the set-piece battle? Can we limit Rooney’s scoring chances? Soon we will all know the answer…
For now, we leave you with inspirational montage #17: