It Is Time for the US to Win a World Cup Game

 Michael Bradley (R) of the US celebrates after scoring against Slovenia during a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg June 18, 2010.     REUTERS/Jerry Lampen (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

June 17 2002.  Mexico 0 – US 2.  That is the last time the US won a game in the World Cup.  It is time to do it again.

Since that day eight years ago, the US has had a courageous defeat (Germany in 2002), several heroic fight backs (Italy in 2006 and England and Slovenia in 2010) and a couple of pathetic collapses (Czech Republic and Ghana in 2006).  It is time to put a W up on the scoreboard.

For the US to advance into the knockout round next week, they need to beat Algeria.  There may be some mathematical models which allow the US to draw and still go through, but that is immaterial.  If you cannot win a game in group play, and you cannot beat a middling team like Algeria when it really counts, you do not deserve to see the next round.  The US has to prove that it is ready to do that.

What is the first step?  It is time for the US to score the first goal and take a lead.  The US team has not actually taken a lead in a World Cup game since that battle with Mexico in Korea.  In the following six World Cups games in which the US has played, the other guys have scored first in all six.  The US has found itself in a hole and has had to stretch and push to climb out.  Sometimes that pushing has given the other team more chances to score (Czech Republic 2006).  Sometimes that pushing has been heroic (Slovenia 2010).  In either case, it is a bad position to be in if you value victories as opposed to heroism.

This pattern is nothing new for the US.  Counting World Cup Qualifications games, you have to go all the way back to September 9, 2009 and the US’s 1-0 defeat over Trinidad & Tobago to find the last time the US scored first in a competitive match.  Since then, in draws to Costa Rica, England and Slovenia and a victory over Honduras, the US has always given up the first goal, often early in the first half.

The US is well positioned to reverse this trend on Wednesday.  For Algeria have any hope of going through, they have to beat the US, and to beat them, Algeria will need to do something they have failed to do against Slovenia or England – score a goal.  Truthfully, they have not really had a dangerous shot on target in this tournament.

Nevertheless, Algeria will have to press forward in search of that goal, and they should leave themselves vulnerable to a counter.  Algeria have been well-organized this tournament, but they are not as quick or as athletic as the US team, and if they press they can be beaten.

Four years after the disappointment of Germany 2006 and eight years after the false dawn that may have been Japan/Korea 2002, this is the chance for the US to show the world that our brand of soccer has really arrived on the world stage.  To go through the group play undefeated and head into the knock-out round on the back of an important victory would prove that last year’s Confederations Cup run was not a fluke.  However, those theories need to be proved with a victory on Wednesday.  Nothing less will do.

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4 Responses to It Is Time for the US to Win a World Cup Game

  1. jcr says:

    This article is dumb. The World Cup only takes place every 4 years. We went one World Cup without a win, so what (and we were the only team to tie Italy and did it with 9 men (2 red cards). We have not lost a game at this world cup and had an amazing comeback that past U.S. teams probably would not have pulled off. While you can criticize the slow start of the U.S. team (which I agree needs to improve if they have a chance on going deep in this tournament), but a 2 goal comeback (really 3) on this large a world stage just shows the confidence this team has built up. You can spin it that the U.S. has gone 8 long years, but that is so stupid because it is only 1 world cup.

  2. joejoe says:

    Win the World Cup? Not until they can be consistent. Come on they beat Slovenia and played poorly against England. You think this group can beat Argentina or Brazil? I don’t think so. If they were able to play against Mexico, they (USMNT) couldn’t beat them either.

    • jcr says:

      Played poorly against England? They tied England which is one of the top seeds and actually almost beat them expect for a post. Against Slovenia, slow start but great comeback. Slovenia qualified out of Europe which is a tough road for any team (hardly New Zealand) and to ridicule is simply uninformed. Slovenia beat several quality teams to qualify and had to beat Ukraine in a playoff. I am not saying win the World Cup but we are now in a league with some very good countries although still searching for actual stars although we may have three in Donovan, Dempsey and Howard and a top player in Bradley. Regarding Mexico, HELLO. Don’t mention the last gold cup because we did not take that one seriously because of no implications (we beat them on the prior one that counted for the Confederations Cup). Outside of Mexico, we don’t lose to them (look at the record). In the U.S. where it is actually neutral ground if not more Mexico, we beat them almost every time. In Mexico, they have us play them in Mexico City at that high alttitude.

  3. Charles says:

    Some think that we did on Friday, but if we can’t beat Algeria, we don’t really deserve to be in the round of 16 anyway. England doesn’t look at like they deserve to be in the next round for a great example.

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