USA Takes Center Stage Today at High Noon

Most probably don't even realize the USA has a soccer game today. Most don't even care. For us die hard soccer fans, we know this game is everything and will determine if we're going to be leaders in the group or bottom feeders.

The bottom line is this USA team will not be able to sneak up on anyone like in 2002. The USA were coming off a pathetic 1998 World Cup when they finished absolutely dead last out of 32 teams. Sad and pathetic but probably hilarious for the rest of the world. Turn to 2002, USA had a tournament run of their lives and were a bad call away from playing in the semi-finals.

Now this in the best team the USA have ever assembled. Realistically they won't win the whole thing. Even the players have publically said that. 2010 or 2014 is a more realistic goal. But this team is talented enough to do something special. They're grouped with the Czech Republic (#2 in the world), Italy (who has a rich soccer history), and an up and coming African team Ghana. Brutal draw for the USA. However when the groups were determined the other countries probably thought "Oh crap we have the USA" more than we worried about who we had.

This game will determine our fate for the rest of the of first round. Reason is teams that win the first game have around a 80% chance to advance to the 2nd round. (Fours teams in a group. The top two teams advance.) Teams that tie have like a 15% chance. Teams that lose their first game have a 5% chance. Therefore at least a draw is mandatory for us to keep any hope alive. (These are rough percentages that I saw on ABC). In 2002, the USA upset Portugal in the first game and eventually advanced to the 2nd round.

Bruce Arena gave the above speech before the 2002 2nd round game against archrivals Mexico. The USA won this game 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals against the Germans. It's not a classic speech. It's not win one for the Gipper. It worked for his players. Here's hoping he gives drops of few more f-words in his pre-game speech today.

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