By Matt Deger
The World Cup has started and it’s time for every American to do their patriotic duty and become a
ravenous soccer fanatic. Just like the Olympics, it only comes once every four years, so here’s a quick
primer for watching the US this summer.
Soccer in General
First off, it is correct that in most of the world soccer is football. It is also correct that telling people
this over and over again will make them believe that you are a self-righteous twit. In the US, soccer
is the accepted term. Now that that’s covered, there are 11 players on each team just like American
football. Unlike American football you’ll mostly see the players staying on the field, once a soccer player
is subbed out, they can’t reenter the game. Teams will play different formations to maximize the use of
the talent they have available, but mostly teams will start a goalkeeper, four defenders, four midfielders,
and two strikers. This is a gross generalization because roles and tactics change situation to situation.
Two players lining up as midfielders can have drastically different roles in the game. As far as the game
goes it’s going to be 90-ish minutes long. The first half will start and the clock will count from zero to
forty-five minutes. Then there will be a minute or two of stoppage time. Stoppage time is extra time
that the referee will allow based on how much time has been spent not actually playing the game. Then
there will be halftime and the clock will count up from forty-five to ninety minutes. After this, more
stoppage time and then the end of the game.
Qualifying for the world cup started in June of 2011 and each continent was allowed to send a certain
number of teams. For the purposes of soccer Australia is considered Asia, and Turkey and Israel and
Azerbaijan are considered Europe. The United States won their qualifying group and is the highest
ranked team from North America. World rankings are used to decide who gets to play who with a semi-
random draw used to assign teams to groups. The thirty-two teams that qualify for the world cup are
divided into eight groups of four each. Each team will play each other team in the group once. The top
two teams from each group advance and from then on its single elimination until there is a winner of
the tournament. The US is drawn in a group with Portugal (very good), Germany (very very good), and
Ghana (eliminated the US in 2010 and 2014).
Jurgen Klinsmann coaches the US National Team after a career as one of the world’s best strikers. While
playing for Germany he scored at least three goals in each of the three World Cups he appeared in. He
famously won third place in the 2006 World Cup coaching Germany before walking away to spend more
time with his family. The US Men’s National Team has twenty three roster spots but we’re going to look
at just a few of the more intriguing players.
Clint Dempsey (8) – The captain, 37 goals in 105 appearances. Just moved from England to play for the
Seattle sounders in MLS, listed as a forward, but will probably line up in the midfield to help coordinate
the attack. He’s scored in the last two world cups. The US doesn’t necessarily need him to score, but
they very much need him to play well.
Michael Bradley (4) – Son of Bob Bradley ex-USMNT coach. 12 goals in 86 appearances. Recently moved
from Italy back to MLS. Possibly the best player on the US team. Most of the US offense will depend on
his vision and passing ability.
Tim Howard (1) – The Goalkeeper and oldest player on the team. He’s spent the last decade in the English
Premier League and is considered an elite goalkeeper. On his day Howard can keep the US in the game
against any team.
Jozy Altidore (17) – 23 goals in 70 appearances. Altidore will line up as the US prime forward. Although
he recently went six months without scoring a single goal, he scored twice against Nigeria in the last
match before the World Cup. He will probably need to score several goals for the US to go far in the
Games to Watch
US vs. Ghana 6:00pm 6/16/14
US vs. Portugal 6:00 pm 6/22/2014
US vs. Germany noon 6/26/2014
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