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Saturday, June 12, 2010

U-S-A! Anything is possible: USA vs England World Cup!

" If you  put your ears close enough to the grass, you can hear the grass growing."~Leon, the Professional.

By Zachary 'Buddha' Bernstein

On paper, the match up is incredibly one-sided. England – a country which lives, breathes, eats and sleeps futbol (that is soccer for the uninitiated),has some of the greatest teams of all time within its borders. England versus the United States – where we also live, breathe, eat and sleep futbol(but not the kind that the world’s looking at South Africa for), plays today! To call it an afterthought in the US is assuming people actually think about it.

Yet do not count out the red, white and blue just yet. For one, England is without arguably their best player – David Beckham, who was long ago ruled out for the tournament and has since been brought on as some sort of spy for the English team. I kid you not, folks – he was watching the US’s last tuneup against Australia.

For another, the US has dominated before. In the 1950 World Cup, the US team shocked England 1-0 in what is now called the “Miracle on Grass.” Of course, this is to say nothing of the fact that both teams would fail to qualify past the group stage, or that the US did not play in another World Cup for 40 years, or that,  it has been 60 years since the Miracle.

But why not? After all, the US has made its mark on the world of futbol, or at least started to. In 2002, the US team made it all the way to the quarterfinals, where they would lose to eventual finalist Germany. And while they were embarrassed by earning only one point in 2006, a repeat of that seems unlikely in a group that also includes Slovenia and Algeria.

Are the two teams evenly matched?

No. England still holds plenty of advantages over a US team that has been questioned as maybe a little raw or nervous. But so was South Africa compared to Mexico. Not only did they manage a draw, they scored first.

Do not expect a US championship. Probably do not expect a semifinal landing. If they manage a repeat of 2002, I  will be pretty gosh-darn astounded. Let us be honest – Brazil these guys ain’t. But if the one game that I have seen played (as of this writing) can tell us anything, it is that here, the question is not whether, but why not?

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