I'll start off with my thoughts on the United States team (uh, squad) before getting into predictions for the 2010 World Cup. I'd like to give a shout out to my DVR for the load it is about to handle, and for making it possible for me to witness the World Cup sans a 6 A.M. wake up call (I wouldn't have stood a chance 8 years ago). But, please World Cup, return to Asia soon so I can once again experience live sporting events in the midnight to 6 A.M. hours- the original reason that I got into the sport of soccer (er, futbol).
United States~ They are better set up for success this time around than they were in 2006, when unfair expectations were placed on them due to an overachieving 2002 team. You follow? Overachieving leads to expectation, which ultimately leads to failure. You see it all the time in sports. This year they bring a more seasoned team ready to handle more moderate expectations. This is my analysis based on no soccer knowledge whatsoever.
What's the key on the field (ahem, pitch)? Jozy Altidore. He is their chance. What I remember from 2006 was that we fielded a good team throughout the field, but lacked a striker, which when it comes down to it, is the name of the game. We had to work too hard for goals. He is our chance at a difference maker.
So what are The Dirkness' expectations for the United States? Anything less than reaching the knockout stage would have to be considered a disappointment (the top two of each group advance for those not in the know). I say winning a game in the Round of 16 is a great success, and anything above and beyond is just tea and crumpets (?). If they can just come out of the England game with a tie (draw) than they are in great shape, with the belief that England is the most celebrated team of the group. But, this is no "Group of Death" (the term applied to the toughest group of the World Cup) where the U.S. found themselves in 2006, and we should expect The Yanks to make an appearance in the knockout round.
1. Mexico- Odds on winning it all went from <125-to-1> to <60-to-1> ruining my betting plans (but helping my online gambling problems).
2. Uruguay- No I'm not....not that there's anything wrong with that.
3. France- Handballs won't be allowed in this tournament, Henri.
4. South Africa- Would become the first host country to not make the knockout round.
1. Argentina- Led by the former (Diego Maradona) and current (Lionel Messi) best players in the world.
2. Greece- I find Greeks to be tough and resilient.
3. Nigeria- The worst team from the original FIFA Soccer game for Super Nintendo.
4. South Korea- Midfielder Park Ji-Sung is nicknamed 'Three-Lung Park' for his impressive stamina.
1. England- History of dominating the Group stage but faltering in the knockout round.
2. United States- Chuck Klosterman really believes soccer could be the sport of the future in the U.S. (and if you don't know who he is, quit reading me and read him!)
3. Slovenia- Dominating defense scares me a bit.
4. Algeria- Awesome nickname- 'The Desert Foxes.'
1. Serbia- Makes me think of Siberia, which makes me thinks they'll be tough.
2. Australia- You can never question the heart of a Socceroo.
3. Germany- My shocker. Lots of missing players due to injuries (and their top goalkeeper committed suicide!) Would be the first time missing the knockout round since 1938.
4. Ghana- Suffer in this year's 'Group of Death.'
1. Cameroon- My choice for African team that rides the wave of home turf.
2. Netherlands- My favorite European team (despite leaving Chili Peppers' lead man Ruud Van Nistelrooy-pictured-off the squad) donning the fresh out of the penitentiary uniforms (kits).
3. Denmark- Something about Denmark.
4. Japan- Can't imagine them being good at soccer.
1. Italy- 'The Floppin Racist Terms' have the best goalie in the world, Gianluigi Buffon.
2. Paraguay- Dedicating the tournament to their top qualifying scorer who was shot in the head. Sold.
3. Slovakia- Won't be motivated because they've already advanced further than their former name sharers, Czech.
4. New Zealand- Just here for the swag.
1. Brazil- Led by forward Kaka (Spanish for poop) and coach Dunga (American for poop). Cue Clay Davis: Shieyyyyyyyit!
2. Ivory Coast- My personal favourite (!) player from the 2006 World Cup, Didier Drogba, may or may not be out for the tournament.
3. Portugal- Soccer is no place for pretty boys like Cristiano Ronaldo...or atleast my predictions aren't.
4. North Korea- Suffer from this year's 'Group of Chinese Water Torture.'
1. Spain- The World Cup Favourite has lost one time in its last 45 games (to the U.S. baby!)
2. Chile- Their coach is nicknamed El Loco for his sideline antics (he most likely gets liquored up on Loko's before games).
3. Honduras- Come oh so close to being the tournament Cinderella.
4. Switzerland- They plan to stay neutral in hopes of not upsetting any of the other Group H teams.
Round of 16:
Mexico over Greece
England over Australia
Cameroon over Paraguay
Brazil over Chile
Argentina over Uruguay
United States over Serbia
Netherlands over Italy
Spain over Ivory Coast
England over Mexico
Cameroon over Brazil
Argentina over United States
Spain over Netherlands
England over Cameroon
Argentina over Spain
Third Place Game:
Cameroon over Spain
World Cup Final:
Argentina over England