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Tournaments Jun 09, 2014

Column: Why team USA won’t win a single World Cup game in Brazil

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(Analysis/Opinion)

Since the announcement that Landon Donovan has been left off the United States roster for this month’s World Cup in Brazil, there are many more opinions circulating than before that give the North Americans no chance to progress out of the group stage.

The betting line setters have also followed suit – with the prevailing position that odds strongly against the U.S. winning any of their three opening matches.

[ + Check out Soccer Wire’s World Cup homepage, featuring exclusive on-site coverage from Editor and Senior Writer Charles Boehm]

Originally, the U.S. men were 12-to-1 to win their ‘Group of Death’ outright and 4-to-1 to advance out of the group. Since the Donovan news, those odds have dropped to 18-to-1 to win the group and 5-to-1 to advance.

It seems there is also little faith in Ghana by the published odds, with the Black Stars expected to be near the bottom of the Group G mix with the U.S., despite the fact they eliminated the Yanks in the 2010 edition’s 2-1 extra-time win in the round of 16. Ghana also had the pleasure of technically knocking the U.S out of the 2006 World Cup, nailing their coffin shut in the third group game with a 2-1 win that sent the Americans home with just one point.

[ + READ: Spitting Image – Is Jozy Altidore USMNT’s Emile Heskey?]

Here are the current odds in Group G to win and/or advance that European line makers Pinnaclesports.com offers: (The higher the – number, the better the chances are, the higher the + number, the less likely it will happen)

FIFA – World Cup: Group G

Will Germany win the group? Yes -150 No +133

Will Portugal win the group? Yes +230 No -265

Will Ghana win the group? Yes +1150 No -1650

Will USA win the group? Yes +1350 No -1850

_____________________________

Will Germany advance from group? Yes -600 No +481

Will Portugal advance from group? Yes -226 No +198

Will Ghana advance from group? Yes +262 No -305

Will USA advance from group? Yes +352 No -420

Germany and Portugal are clear favorites to take the top two spots of Group G and are being projected to have no competition on the way to the round of 16. Ghana are slightly ahead of the U.S, but neither are being given much of a chance to get out of Group G with the U.S team left for dead by the line setters since the Donovan announcement.

But the question remains if the U.S can take three points from Ghana, Germany or Portugal. Without a doubt, the U.S. will be the proclaimed the underdog in all three matches, so to say the task at hand will be “Mission Impossible” would not be an understatement.

Landon Donovan has been in dominant form for the USMNT. Photo property of U.S. Soccer. But we don’t want to be so harsh, so let’s call it “Mission Difficult” with a side order of ‘unlikely.’

The U.S. open the tournament in Natal, with the rematch of Ghana on June 16th. They will face Portugal in Manaus on June 22, and finish the group stage vs Germany on June 26 in Recife, Brazil. Ghana flew through qualifying with 18 goals and only three against them in a rather weak African Group D with Zambia, Lusotho and Sudan.

Germany also flew through qualifying in Europe’s Group C, scoring 36 goals in 10 matches without a loss.

Portugal came in second place in Europe’s Group D qualification against Russia and needed a playoff win to secure a spot in the World Cup stage. And we all know what Portugal brings to the table and that is simply, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The underlying problem with the American squad is clearly its defense. They just added that much more pressure on the team by losing Donovan and forcing offensive soccer to the paramount. Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley all bring formidable attacking skills to the dance, but can they outscore any of the three clubs in the group?

Dempsey and Bradley are the only two players on the squad to score a goal in the World Cup for this club, so the U.S may claim they have an experienced team in Brazil, but do they, really?

Is leaving Donovan, your all-time leading scorer, off the roster a suggested approach?

Not having much input in qualifying surely hurt Donovan, only appearing in 5 matches of the qualifying stages. Can replacing him with 18-year-old Julian Green, a German-American who chose the U.S team over Germany, be the best for the team’s confidence or does it give the team a sense of favoritism with Klinsmann’s German background?

Donovan clearly took a leave of absence on his own terms, but simply did it at the wrong time. Questioning Klinsmann’s tactics and progression did not help the situation one bit and it essentially cost him a spot on the 23-man roster for the World Cup. Mustering up a draw against Ghana could likely be the only success the U.S. team finds to secure at least one single point in the group stage. ­­­

Ghana actually now have better odds to come out of the group than the U.S squad — be it ever so slight.

As far as we can tell, the U.S team has a tremendous uphill battle. Bottom line: neither Ghana nor the United States will be playing after the group stage and the U.S club will be lucky if they get one point from Ghana in a high-scoring draw. It would take two minor miracles to find any points in the U.S. matches against Portugal and Germany. With that said, Ghana is not intimidated by the ‘mighty Americans’ at all and know them as well as anyone in the tournament having plenty of success against them as mentioned.

So the answer to the question is ‘No.’ The U.S team will not secure three points with a win in any of the opening group round matches in its quest of advancing in the 2014 World Cup, and will most likely be going home with simply another appearance in the World Cup.

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