Will USA win the World Cup before England secure a second?

As of this moment in time, the USMNT are in a better position to win the World Cup than England.

This is mainly down to the infrastructure that Jurgen Klinsmann has installed within US soccer, as well as the regulations within MLS that promote youth development.

There will be many that argue MLS is weaker than the English Premier League, and that the standard of individuals within the English national team are better than the Americans – and they’re probably right.

But from a tactical and physical standpoint, the USA are far better.

In Brazil, England got it horribly wrong, playing three of their four strikers in all three, group games. This may have worked if they had a world-class defensive midfielder – which Roy Hodgson didn’t have at his disposal, and if the wide players could defend – Wayne Rooney couldn’t do it all that well when played on the left.

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USA on the other hand approached each game with caution and confidence in their ability to defend. Their counter-attacking system became a thing of beauty as they pushed heavyweights like Germany, Portugal and Belgium all the way.

Going forward, US soccer has great prospects coming through and the younger players like DeAndre Yedlin and John Anthony Brooks look set to shine from this moment forward.

The blaring difference within English football is the game time given to young prospects. For example, by the time most players turn 21 in England, they have spent most of their professional career out on loan in lower divisions. Whereas, at 20, Yedlin has had ample game time and is looking set to play as an All-Star in MLS next month.

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US soccer will only get stronger and finally has a clear direction in which to head under Jurgen Klinsmann. England, on the other hand, is still unclear if their senior players can handle the pressure on the biggest stage.

Realistically, England has the best league in the world and some world-class talent, but the national side have yet to develop a system and a playing style that can allow them to reach their potential.

US soccer has the resources and the athletes to eventually win a World Cup. We estimate it will take another ten years before they can really challenge, but this looks like a much shorter timescale than the one English football has, even if the FA have set the goal of winning the tournament in 2022.

Will USA win a World Cup before England?

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What next for Klinsmann and the USA?

USA fell narrowly to Belgium in the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday night, losing 2-1 in extra time but they gave a great account of themselves and earned many plaudits from worldwide supporters.

The USA impressed and exceeded expectations at the World Cup and have now officially announced themselves as an elite footballing nation.

The performance last night typified them as a group. They were unified in defeat and resilient towards the end, with a never-say-die attitude that has to be admired.

Jurgen Klinsmann now has the task of building towards the next World Cup in Russia in 2018, and he has the potential in this squad to succeed there.

DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green both showed promise and were both a threat against a very strong Belgium side.

Going forward, this ageing USA squad must develop the younger players, which will leave question marks over the international futures of players like DaMarcus Beasley and Kyle Beckerman.

The USA look very strong at the back, and have potential to better the current unit with the likes of John Anthony Brooks and Yedlin coming through the ranks.

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There is a question regarding the excellent Tim Howard and if he will be around for the next World Cup as he will be 39 by the time the tournament in Russia comes around.

There are plenty of emerging American goalkeepers in MLS that now have a chance to prove their quality to Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the next tournament.

One thing is for sure, the USA can be proud of their team and they have more than proved they are capable of challenging the best on the biggest stage.

Belgium now progress to the quarter-finals on Saturday, where they will play Argentina.

What can the USMNT expect from Portugal?

The USMNT play Portugal in Manaus on Sunday night in a game which could settle the second qualifying spot in Group G.

On paper this Portugal team is superior to USA, but recent performances leave the USA with a very strong chance of winning.

The USA go into the game coming off the back of a resolute performance in a 2-1 win against Ghana, while the Portuguese were sub-standard against the Germans, and were thumped 4-0.

Portugal will be without Pepe who is suspended after picking up a red card in the defeat to Germany, and will be significantly weaker defensively.

Cristiano Ronaldo is also a major doubt as he is struggling to overcome a knee injury and his World Cup could be over.

The Ballon d’Or winner has been suffering with injuries to his knee and thigh for some time now and has been told to rest up for at least 2 months.

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However, the USA are missing a big name too in Jozy Altidore, another who’s World Cup could be over after he pulled up in the game against Ghana with a hamstring injury just 20 minutes in.

Portugal are likely to still play with a 4-3-3, whether Ronaldo plays or not, in a system that will provide width and freedom for their wide men.

We expect that Portugal will dominate possession with the likes of Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles in midfield. But with the likes of Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones protecting the back four, the USA are more than capable of suppressing the Portuguese advances.

Key Man: Nani

Should Ronaldo not be able to play, Nani will need to step up and perform. The Manchester United man has had one of his worst seasons in England this year, and Portugal will hope he can lead them to victory.

Prediction: USA 2- 1 Portugal

We believe USA is more than capable of beating this Portugal side if they perform as they did against Ghana, but they will have to work hard to do so. Another strong defensive performance is needed to win here and a victory will seal their place in the next round.

Reaction to the USA’s vital World Cup win against Ghana

USA beat Ghana 2-1 last night in one of the best defensive performances of the World Cup so far.

USA looked resolute in defence and seemed destined for the three points from the first whistle as Clint Dempsey netted the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history.

John Anthony Brooks was the standout performer for the Stars and Stripes and the winning goal was deserved following a brilliant defensive performance after coming on at halftime..

Calls will be made for him to start, but should Matt Besler recover for the Portugal game, it’s hard to see Jurgen Klinsmann changing the back four.

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However, the win was not without casualties, as Jozy Altidore limped off little after 20 minutes of the game with a hamstring injury that looks to have ended his World Cup.

Aron Johannsson, who deputised for Altidore, is not to the same standard and doesn’t fit the USA game plan, so should Altidore not be able to continue, surely a change in tactics will be necessary.

With a midfield that was basically a flat four, Jermaine Jones thrived. The 32 year-old was immense and gave everything to the cause, even though he was out of position on the left.

A special mention must also go to Kyle Beckerman who rallied his teammates and broke up play when called upon. He will be key if the USA is to beat Portugal.

The USA now go into the Portugal game on Sunday full of confidence and Portugal are coming off the back of a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Germany.

Everything is going to plan for the USMNT. The game on Sunday is being seen as the battle for second place in Group G and a win on Sunday will surely see them into the last 16.

5 World Cup winners you may not have known played in America

With the World cup starting on Thursday, we thought we’d pay tribute to five players who have won the trophy and played in America.

Some big names have graced US soccer in recent years but how many of these stars did you know plied their trade stateside?

1. Gerd Müller

The German International won the World Cup in 1974. He won the Golden boot at the 1970 world cup and amassed a staggering total of 68 international goals in 62 appearances.

He made the move to America in 1979 and played for three seasons with Fort Lauderdale Strikers, scoring 38 goals during his spell.

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2. Youri Djorkaeff

World Cup winner with France in 1998, the forward played for New York Red Bulls for two seasons between 2005 and 2006.

He played 40 times, scoring ten goals during his stint in the Big Apple.

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3. Alessandro Nesta

One of the more recent arrivals, Nesta won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, although he was injured in the final group match and sat out for the rest of the tournament.

Nesta is a legend and was a shock addition to the Montreal Impact squad in 2012. He played 31 times for the Canadian side before retiring.

4. Romario

The Brazilian goal scorer won the World cup in 1994 alongside Ronaldo in what was probably the best strike force to play at a World Cup.

Romario moved to Miami in 2006 and played 25 times for them, scoring a very impressive 19 goals.

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5. Denilson

Another Brazilian that made the move to MLS, Denilson was used mainly as a substitute during the 2002 World Cup in which the Brazilians won.

Denilson played for FC Dallas in 2007, making 8 appearances.

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USMNT gather momentum going into the World Cup

USA has now won all three of their warm up games. They were, however, less than impressive in the opening two of their ‘send-off’ series.

But they changed their performance last night as Jurgen Klinsmann ditched the diamond and flooded midfield.

The structure was simply genius as it allowed Alejandro Bedoya and Clint Dempsey freedom on counter attacks.

There are things we need to look out for at the World Cup, assuming that Klinsmann won’t change this current team too much.

1. Zonal Marking – ditch it.

Set pieces are the worst way to concede a goal, as you have plenty of time to set yourself up and zonal marking is the greatest liability.

The system allows players to get complacent because you rely on each other, whereas, in a man-marking system everyone has a job.

We hope he doesn’t use it in Brazil against the likes of Germany who will punish the team from corners otherwise.

2. Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones are a great insurance plan.

When you risk everything on a fast-paced counter attack you have to take precautions defensively.

Jones and Beckerman provide that cover so that the fullbacks, Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley can bomb on.

Klinsmann has found an answer to his midfield issue, and the USMNT have a realistic chance of success at the tournament.

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3. Michael Bradley is ready to shine.

Based on what we have seen in the three warm up games, Michael Bradley will have a great World Cup.

He is one of the first names on the USMNT team sheet and he provides a range of passes that can trouble any defence.

Ghana, Germany and Portugal better have done their homework because Bradley could hurt them.

4. Bedoya or Zusi?

We like Bedoya and he had another good game last night. But we have cause to believe Graham Zusi would be a better choice in terms of structure.

He is more than capable of joining in on the counter attack and he can also pick out a pass to perfection.

But unlike Bedoya, Zusi gives you a bit more defensively and we think he should start instead. It is likely that Bedoya will play though because we cannot see Klinsmann changing his team too much now.

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5. Jozy Altidore can score goals.

It’s an extreme long shot but who’s to say he can’t win the Golden Boot? Although this is extremly unlikely, he did give us cause for optimism with a well-taken brace and lead’s a side with goals in it.

Granted the first goal was a tap-in and had he missed it, he should have retired, but his second cannot be questioned.

The confidence he showed while in possession was great to see and we think the USA have a great platform to attack with him as their outlet alongside Dempsey.

The USMNT will now play Belgium in a behind closed doors match on Thursday but we expect the team will stay much the same regardless of what happens there.

USA win again but there are still major problems within the set-up

The USA beat Turkey 2-1 on Sunday night, setting the benchmark for upcoming performances, however Jurgen Klinsmann still doesn’t know his best team.

We can assume he will play the diamond formation, having used it in both warm-up games so far, but they are left open at the back and better teams like Germany and Portugal will tear them apart.

We take a look at the areas that need more attention:

1. Left back.

Klinsmann has used DaMarcus Beasley and Timothy Chandler so far and both have looked questionable at best.

Klinsmann isn’t budging on moving Fabian Johnson from right back, even though Chandler and Johnson prefer the opposite flanks.

They need to find a solution at left back and quick, or hope that Chandler or Beasley are up for the challenge come June 16.

2. Should Jozy Altidore lead the line?

Altidore looked very good but the only thing missing was a goal.

He hasn’t scored a goal since the 4th December so fans will be hoping he finds the net before the big opener against Ghana.

He used his strength throughout and was unlucky to have a goal disallowed for a push on the goalkeeper.

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3. Julian Green – too early?

The 18-year-old has only had one cap prior to his World Cup call up, and has yet to win over the USMNT fans.

Coming on against Turkey, he failed to make a valid contribution and the omission of Landon Donovan will look even worse to the USMNT faithful.

4. Portugal have Ronaldo, but the USA have Bradley.

We’re not going to begin to compare the two players, but they do mean a lot to their respective nations hopes at the World Cup.

Bradley is the pivotal player for the US and any hopes of them progressing out of the group lie solely on his ability to supply the goals, as he did last night. We expect him to have a great World Cup, although he will need a good supporting cast in front.

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5. Geoff Cameron, first choice centre-half?

Cameron has only played one game at centre back domestically this year, yet he looks set to play there at the World Cup.

Unless Klinsmann knows something we all don’t, we can’t understand the logic behind his defensive combinations. He has a right back playing left back, a left back playing right back, and another right back playing centre back!

If Cameron does start in the heart of defence, where does that leave natural defenders Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez?

Just how good is Landon Donovan? An in-depth look at the greatest ever MLS striker

As the dust is beginning to settle on the remarkable record set by Landon Donovan on Sunday and as his achievement starts to sink in, it’s a good time to judge how good he really is.

A striker will always be judged on the goals they have scored and how regularly they manage to score them.

But for a striker to be regarded as the complete player, they need to be capable of creating chances for others as well as sticking away the ones that fall their way.

In view of this, and taking in to consideration the top ten goalscorers in MLS history, how does Donovan compare and is he really the best of the lot?

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He has a shots-attempted-to-goals-scored conversion ratio of 20.5%, which is second only to the retired Roy Lassiter who had an impressive ratio of 22.1%.

If you combine the total amount of goals contributed in a game by any player, which includes goals scored and assists, Landon Donovan has the best record of all-time with an impressive average of 0.82 goals contributed per game.

The next most successful player is ex-New England Revolution man Taylor Twellman, who had a ratio of 0.74 goals contributed per game.

So not only is Donovan now officially the top goalscorer in MLS history, if you study the game and stats more closely you can see that he is genuinely the best striker to have graced any MLS pitch.

Once again – a big well done to Landon Donovan.

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So how has he missed out on being selected in the squad for the World Cup in Brazil?

In a nutshell, nobody really knows because statistically, he is more than good enough to have earned a spot in the team.

By not selecting Donovan, it suggests that there are 23 other American players better than he is, or that they will serve the team to a better extent, but this is hard to agree with.

Various critics have stated that it’s about developing for the future as the likes of Julian Green, 18, who plays for the Bayern Munich reserve side, have been given an opportunity.

But when you look at the ages of the other strikers included, you can see that surely this isn’t relevant to the selection and that for whatever reason it may be, Klinsmann just isn’t a fan of Donovan.

His league goals per game ratio is better than 3 of the other strikers selected, so one can only assume that it comes down to personal preference for Klinsmann.

League Goals per game average:

  • Landon Donovan (aged 32) – 0.44 league goals per game

Strikers Selected for the World Cup squad:

  • Chris Wondolowski (aged 31) – 0.47 league goals per game
  • Aron Johannsson (aged 23) – 0.43 league goals per game
  • Jozy Altidore (aged 24) – 0.31 league goals per game
  • Clint Dempsey (aged 31) – 0.30 league goals per game

The mystery surrounding his absence may never be solved, but it is clear that the USMNT would be in a better position were Landon Donovan set to fly out to Brazil next month, and it is disappointing to see the best striker MLS has ever seen miss out on the chance to represent his country for the fourth time.

All 136 of Landon Donovan’s MLS goals can be viewed below courtesy of mlssoccer.com:

Should Samuel Eto’o make the move to MLS?

Samuel Eto’o has become a free agent following his contract expiring at Chelsea. The 33 year-old striker has been heavily linked with MLS since the turn of year after many assumed his contract would not be renewed at the West London club.

Eto’o has scored at every club he’s played for, including nine last term for Chelsea, and is set to play in the World Cup this summer for Cameroon.

But should he move to Major League Soccer, who would he best suit?

Assuming he would almost certainly demand a designated player spot, it rules out the LA Galaxy, who have been strongly linked with the veteran.

Galaxy have been linked with many key players who would require a designated player slot in the squad, and two of those positions are already filled by strikers, in Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan.

DC united are another team that are supposedly interested in Eto’o, however they already have Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola as strike options and Eto’o would be an expensive acquisition in a position they are already strong in.

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There are obviously teams which need him more desperately, but I think he will delay the move until the New York City franchise starts up next season.

The new franchise enters Major League Soccer next season, in early 2015, and the striker will be able to earn the high wage that he would request with a move to NYCFC.

Until then I think his next move after the World Cup will be a temporary deal to Paris Saint-Germain, where his wife and children are currently living.

Eto’o is not opposed to moving to apparent ‘lesser’ leagues, as he made the move to Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia just a few seasons ago.

The striker will bring bags of experience to MLS if he were to move, having won titles in Spain and Italy as well as having three UEFA Champions League winners’ medals.

His next move is likely to be his last big move, and with MLS growing substantially by the year, there is no reason why Eto’o shouldn’t further its development with a big move stateside.

Where do you see Samuel Eto’o playing next?

United States to play Belgium on opening day of World Cup in final preparation game

By Louis East

The USMNT will play Belgium in a behind-closed-doors friendly on the 12 June as both sides look to finalise their preparations for the tournament just days before their opening games.

While the rest of the World will be gearing up to watch Brazil take on Croatia in the opening fixture, the US National team and Belgium will be focusing on a friendly to make any last minute adjustments.

FIFA announced on Friday that the two sides will cap off their World Cup preparations by playing each other in Sao Paulo on the opening day of the World Cup.

Some fans will be concerned by the late friendly, as any injuries suffered will affect the nations tournaments.

Though the Belgian football federation have described the game as more of a training session that a competitive match: “It will be a kind of training session for each side.”

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The United States and Belgium are two footballing nations where the sport is rapidly developing, and the Belgian side have an abundance of talent in their squad.

A ‘golden generation’ of Belgian’s are playing across the major leagues in Europe, with several shining in the Premier League.

Whereas the USA’s national league is growing by the year, with Major League Soccer showcasing a better standard of football every season.

These two met in a friendly last May in a six-goal thriller, with Belgium coming out on top 4-2 on that occasion.

It will be the fourth, and final game for Jurgen Klinsmann to assess his side ahead of their World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16.

They will need to get something out of their opener against the Black Stars as they also face Germany and Portugal in the ‘Group of Death’.

The USMNT play against Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in the United States, before travelling out to Brazil in July.