The US Tries Again

After five long days of agonizing, excuse-making and short-sighted exclamations that this is why soccer will never be popular in the United States, our boys kick it off again tomorrow against Italy. Sure, the Italians are a world power and we will be severe underdogs, but anything can happen in one game and I’m staying optimistic. The way the first round goes, you play each team in your four-team group once, earning three points for a win and one for a tie. The top two teams in each group advance to the 16-team playoff.
Normally, four points will get you about a 50% chance of going through. 5 points puts you in roughly 2/3 of the time and 6 points is a near lock. In our group, Group E, The Czech Republic and Italy both have 3 points and the US and Ghana have zip. Since head-to-head results and goal-differential are used as tie-breakers, the best thing for the US is for the Czechs to keep on beating everyone else. Let them get 9 points and we’ll fight the other two teams for the remaining points.
If we tie the Italians, they’d have 4 points and we’d need to beat Ghana and have Italy lose to the Czechs just to tie the Italians in the final standings. Then we’d be subject to goal differential and with our 3-0 loss to the Czechs and the Azzurri’s 2-0 win over Ghana, we’d still be in trouble. I’d say the odds would be very slim that we could overcome those 5 goals.
If we beat Italy, things would look much better. We’d both be tied with 3 points going into the final games, them against the Czechs and us against Ghana. That would make for a very exciting final day (next Thursday), particularly if the Czechs and Ghanaians tie tomorrow, meaning all four teams would still have a shot in the last game.
I’ll say it again – Go USA!
Since I tend to focus on ACC news here, and that’s what brings my most loyal readers, I’ll try to tie our lovely conference to the World Cup.
The US men’s roster contains 23 active players. Six of those players never played US college ball, instead going the more modern route of high school straight to the pros. Of the 17 who did play in college, 7 played in the ACC, making it by far the most represented conference.
The ACC veterans:
Chris Albright – UVA (left after sophomore, All-American season)
Gregg Berhalter – UNC (left after three years. Two-time All-American)
Pablo Mastroeni – NC State
Ben Olsen – UVA (left after three years. All-American and NPOY)
Oguchi Onyewu – Clemson (left after two years. All-American)
Eddie Pope – UNC (All-American)
Claudio Reyna – UVA (left after three stellar national-championship seasons. Three-time All-American. Two-time NPOY.)

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