The World Cup is finally here, starting in two days on Thursday June 12, 2014! The USMNT has gone 3-0 in their pre world cup matches versus Azerbaijan, Turkey, and finally Nigeria. I didn’t watch the Azerbaijan match, but I did watch the other two. There is a good article covering the apparent “unimpressive win” by the US on SB Nation.
Now, starting with the games I did watch, first of which being the Turkey game. From the start, there was a few calls an unbiased reporter would call “questionable” for both sides. First, American defenseman had a terrible challenge in the box that could have certainly been called for a PK and but the US a man down for the rest of the match, but no such call was made. No red card….. no penalty kick. On the flip side, Jozy Altidore scored a goal but was waved off by the referee because of a push. Jozy Altidore has not scored in international or club play since December 4th, quite the drought. At this point we are still deadlocked 0-0.
In the 26th minute, the US team finally broke the tie with an absolutely beautiful ball from Michael Bradley to Fabian Johnson on the give-and-go. After going into the half 1-0, team captain Clint Dempsey put another in the back of the net, elevating the US 2-0 in the second. Turkey finally answered with a goal of their own in the 89th minute with a penalty. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it got the job done.
The second game I watched, which is probably the best win for the US, was the Nigeria game. The reason why I say that is because this game was the resurgence of Jozy Altidore. The United States needs Jozy to play well in this World Cup if we hope of having any chance whatsoever of making it out of the “Group of Death” and having a legitimate shot at making a run for the Cup. From the get go, Fabian Johnson gave Altidore an easy tap in goal, ending his 7 month long drought. Not only did it do that, you could tell it helped his confidence as a striker. His second goal to put the US up 2-0 was a beauty. Michael Bradley, whom I’m going to start calling the field general with these gorgeous passes he is making, made a spectacular pass to Jozy on the left wing at his left foot. Altidore then stopped on a dime, changed directions and dribbled to his right foot across the defender, and delivered a strike from about 15 feet out.
Here is video of the gorgeous soccer play from start to finish:
Nigeria, just like Turkey, scored a garbage goal off of a penalty kick in the 86th minute. Final score being 2-1.
With the US going 3-0 leading into the World Cup, its the longest streak in US Men’s Soccer history for Pre-World Cup matchups. Will the momentum carry them past the Group of Death? Will they make a run for the Cup? We’ll have to see. It’s time… the lights are on, the athletes are ready, the fans are ready, lets get this World Cup underway.
Photo cred to: Baltimore Soccer News