US prepped for 2010 World Cup
After being the first team to defeat Honduras on its home field, 3-2, the United States has clinched its sixth straight trip to the World Cup.
The U.S. still has a game remaining against Costa Rica at 7 p.m. in Washington D.C., and is looking to finish atop the final round standings for the second consecutive year.
Many people expected the U.S. to qualify, saying the CONCACAF region would be a walkthrough, but it was no easy feat playing teams like Honduras and Mexico.
There are more competitive regions, like Europe, and the U.S. must wait to see if qualifying prepared them to play teams like Spain and Germany on the biggest of stages.
The way groups are divided often has as much bearing on a team’s success as the way they play when heading into the tournament. In 1990, the U.S. was put in a tough group facing off against Italy, Czechoslovakia and Austria. ‘
In the first match, it became apparent that the U.S. was not prepared for the tournament, as they lost to Czechoslovakia 5-1.’ The Americans never made it out of the group stage, and went home disappointed and shocked at their dismal performances. ‘
The same thing occurred in the 1998 World Cup, as the U.S. finished last in the rankings after losing all three group stage matches.
The 1994 World Cup was better for the U.S. as they progressed to the knockout stage for the first time since the 1930 World Cup ‘- their best outing.’ Another tough schedule pitted the Americans against eventual champion Brazil, and the ensuing loss came as no surprise to anyone.
The U.S. had a lot to prove in the 2002 World Cup, and they did not disappoint.’ The U.S. qualified over Portugal and was second to Korea, putting them in the knockout stage.’ This was quite an achievement given their past performances, and the U.S. went on to beat Mexico before losing to Germany in the quarterfinals.
The 2006 World Cup in Germany produced a familiar situation in which the U.S. did not advance past the group stages.’ If there is a pattern in the Americans’ performances, they can expect to do well this year. Still, the nation must wait with growing anxiousness as the groups are drawn up.
The U.S. has played several international friendlies during World Cup qualifying with mixed results.’ They played Brazil twice, losing both matches along with a loss to Italy, but managed to beat Egypt and top-seeded Spain. All matches were played in 2009 with the current squad for the upcoming World Cup. ‘
A 2-3 record is not a bad start, but the U.S. must do better if they are to qualify against tough sides.’ Though anyone can get lucky occasionally, it all comes down to the teams selected to be in our group.