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Ten Reasons Why the USA Can Beat England Saturday

I was going to write a preview of Saturday’s much hyped USA – England match, but I stopped when I realized that our readers know as much or more about these players than I do.  The English team, because of the popularity of the Premier League, are as well-recognized (or better recognized) than our own national team players, although their profile has risen steadily too.  Instead, I will present the reasons why I expect the USA to get a result against England Saturday in this historic game….see if you agree.

1. Landon Donovan  Enough can’t be said about how Donovan has raised the level of his game over the last year.  Whether he was stirred by the controversy regarding his remarks published in Grant Wahl’s “The Beckham Experiment,” in which he criticized LA Galaxy teammate and icon David Beckham for his perceived lack of leadership and commitment to the Galaxy, and the subsequent airing out of grievances between the two Galaxy stars, Donovan has been on a tear and has finally reached his potential.  Donovan’s three-month stint with Everton showed once and for all that he could play with the big boys.  With Donovan, the obvious US Men’s National Team leader on the pitch,  playing with total confidence and self-belief, our team now has a player who can truly will a team to victory.

2.  Superior Goalkeeping  I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that any of England’s goalkeeping trio of David James, Joe Hart or Robert Green  in current form is better than Tim Howard.  Or even Marcus Hahnemann, who kept Wolves in the Premiership this past season.  No team in the world has a better roster of goalkeepers than the United States.

3.  Home Field Advantage  The USMNT has played six games in South Africa in the last 12 months, six games against opponents the likes of Spain, Italy, Brazil twice, Egypt and Australia. And the USMNT played South Africa there at the end of 2007.  Americans bought more 2010 World Cup tickets than any other nation, meaning the USMNT will have support in the stands and greater familiarity training and playing in South Africa.

4. The Every Other World Cup/Non-European Trend  Since qualifying for the 1990 World Cup in Italy after a 40 year absence, the USMNT has been successful (getting through group qualifying) every other cycle….1990 no, 1994 yes, 1998 no, 2002 yes, 2006 no.  This trend also coincides with the USMNT’s success in World Cups played OUTSIDE of Europe, the 1994 World Cup being staged in the United States and the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. This trend, for whatever it’s worth, deems that the 2010 World Cup should be a good one for the USA.

5. The EPL Factor   Thirteen of the twenty-three players on the US roster have played in the EPL.  Some have been more successful than others, but I think the “awe” that US players demonstrated in the past when playing England (recall the May 2008 defeat at Wembley Stadium) is gone.  Most players on the US squad have  “big league” experience now, including Steve Cherundolo, Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark starting in the Bundesliga and Maurice Edu scoring for Rangers in an Old Firm match.  I don’t think they’ll be concerned about getting Stevie G’s autograph.

6. We Have a Poacher  and his name is Herculez Gomez.  Gomez has played a total of 54 minutes as a substitute in two games for the USMNT in 2010 and scored two goals.  Is this a fluke?  Considering that Gomez was co-leader in goals scored for Puebla in the FMF, often coming in as a substitute, I’d say no, it isn’t.   The USMNT now has a lethal scoring weapon coming off the bench that can change results in a few minutes.

7.  Thinking Outside the Box  Bob Bradley has been often been criticized by the soccer press and fans for his conservative approach to the game and composition of team rosters.  For the 2010 World Cup, however, Bradley went out on a limb and chose some players with few international caps but who are in form.  Gomez, Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley and Jose “Gringo” Torres have all shown recently that Bradley made the right decision, and have injected some speed and attacking flair into the team. 

8.  The Charlie Davies Factor  Charlie Davies is a brilliant young forward who was badly injured in a car accident last fall.  Many doubted whether he’d ever play again.  But nobody quite counted on Charlie’s perseverance, and he turned the tables, went through exhaustive rehab and began training, only betrayed by the calendar as he couldn’t quite obtain match fitness before the World Cup, and was not included on the USMNT roster.  Nevertheless, Charlie’s remarkable recovery and effort is an uplifting story for both players and fans, and his remarkable spirit will serve as a very tangible inspiration for the US team.

9.  The Road to South Africa  England’s national team qualified for the 2010 World Cup with an impressive 9-0-1 record.  Very impressive. In a group that included the Ukraine, Croatia, Belarus, Kazahkstan and Andorra. ….not quite as impressive.  The United States qualified with a 6-2-2 record, in a group that included Mexico, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and El Salvador.  Although UEFA is undoubtedly a stronger region than CONCACAF, I think the USMNT had a more challenging road to travel to South Africa than England did, especially when the USMNT had to play Mexico in Estadio Azteca and Costa Rica in Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.  Then when you add the level of competition that the US faced in the Confederations Cup last summer, it is certain that the USMNT are a much more mentally tough squad than the one that went to Germany in 2006.

10.  Underdogs  England is favored to beat the United States Saturday.  That’s fine.  Americans love an underdog.  Everyone knows the story of the great 1950 World Cup US victory over England.  The embarrassment of the USMNT players over their performance in 2006 still lingers, and they are hungry to show the world what they can do.  This is it.  If they can stay composed for the first 20 minutes of the match, they will get a result.  Frankly, if not for three factors, I would be predicting an outright US victory Saturday.  But considering how great and willful a player England’s Wayne Rooney can be, the discipline that Fabio Capello has imposed on that team and the questionable fitness of US defender Oguchi Onyewu, I feel that a draw is the most likely outcome.  Obviously, anything can happen but I feel very confident that the US will at least get a draw, and quite likely the victory.  I think an English victory is the least likely outcome.  Yes, they have more talent.  I just have a feeling.  We’ve waited six months since the group pairings and soon we’ll see if history can repeat itself.  And we have Martin Tyler doing commentary. 

Sorry I can’t help myself…..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCqZsFM7Sg8        The Yanks are coming !!!

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