World Cup preview: U.S. Men’s Team

Nate Cairney
Kaiserslautern American

The World Cup takes place every four years, so American soccer fans in the KMC are in a very unique position when it comes to rooting for their team. So whether you’ll be cheering from the stadium, the big Fan Fest in Kaiserslautern or from the comfort of your own couch, you can now shout knowledgeably.

Since the World Cup uses a first-round pool play format to decide who goes forward, the Yanks are guaranteed at least three games. The U.S. team belongs to Group E, which includes Ghana, Italy and the Czech Republic. Italy and the Czech Republic are perennial powerhouses, so this is a very difficult draw. The Americans can’t be counted out, though. Four years ago, they scored surprise victories over Portugal and Mexico en route to a hard-fought quarterfinal loss against Germany.

The U.S. faces the Czech Republic June 12 in Gelsenkirchen, takes on Italy June 17 in Kaiserslautern and finishes with Ghana on June 22.

Key American players are midfielders Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley.
Both are young, confident, lightning fast and skilled with the ball. Donovan, in particular, has shown a knack for playing well on big stages. The U.S. will also be counting on forward Brian McBride, who is one of the all-time leading international goal scorers for the men’s team. Look, too, for good things from Clint Dempsey, who scored America’s only goal in their 1-0 friendly victory against Poland on March 1 at Kaiserslautern’s Fritz-Walter Stadium.

Defensively, Eddie Pope is a world-class stopper in the backfield, and goalkeepers Kasey Keller and Tim Howard have made great names for themselves in the premier European soccer leagues.

Overall, Team USA bears a wealth of international experience. According to the team’s Web site, over half of the team members play in European leagues, with the remainder coming from U.S. Major League Soccer squads.
The U.S. men’s team is coached by Bruce Arena and includes the following players: goalkeepers Marcus Hahnemann, Howard and Keller; midfielders Claudio Reyna (who is also the team captain), Bobby Convey, Pablo Mastroeni, John O’Brien, Ben Olsen, Dempsey, Beasley and Donovan; defenders Chris Albright, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Jimmy Conrad, Cory Gibbs,  Eddie Lewis, Oguchi Onyewu, and Pope; forwards Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson, Josh Wolff and McBride.