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Point/Counterpoint: Will the United States make it out of the Group of Death in the World Cup?

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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Yes

Trending upward, the U.S. Men’s National Team has been working toward World Cup success for several years. After being eliminated in group play in 2006, it reached the Round of 16 in 2010, and it has continued to improve and show promise in the years since.

So this could be the year, right? The Americans could finally put a run together and make a splash. That is, until they were placed in the Group of Death.

Many fear the road ahead of the Americans, having to compete with Portugal, Germany, and Ghana. But fear not; there is reason to remain encouraged.

Portugal is among the top 10 most likely champions based on the oddsmakers, but a lot of that projection is dependent on the performance of Cristiano Ronaldo.

At the age of 29 and playing competitive soccer for nearly his entire life, Ronaldo has been suffering from tendinosis, a degenerative condition affecting his left patellar tendon. Furthermore, reports claim the superstar is suffering from some sort of upper leg discomfort as well.

The Germans are one of the favorites to take the title, but again, health has not been kind to them.
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was airlifted from the practice this week to have his knee examined, and goalkpeer Manuel Neuer, defender Philipp Lahm, and midfielder Sami Khedira all have lingering injury concerns. Midfielders Lars Bender and Marco Reus have also already been ruled out.

Injuries aside, the Americans defeated the Germans, 4-3, in the Centennial Celebration Match in June 2013, led by Cup participants Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.

As long as the United States can take care of business in a more evenly matched Game 1 against Ghana, it will have a chance to compete with Germany and Portugal. Besides that, Germany, Portugal, and Ghana will cause plenty of problems for each other.

It’s certainly the Group of Death, but in what’s already been an exciting start to the tournament, and with the help of some nagging injuries, death is far from imminent for the Americans in group play.

— Kyle Mann

No

There has been plenty of drama before the U.S. Men’s National Team steps on the pitch for its first match in the 2014 World Cup against Ghana. Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann is the facilitator of the controversy. He told the New York Times that the United States winning the World Cup was unrealistic because the players aren’t at that level yet.

Is the German, coaching his first World Cup with Team USA, being honest or attempting to produce motivation in unusual fashion? Klinsmann delivered another shock by leaving Landon Donovan off the 23-man roster, arguably the best player in American soccer history. Maybe it is the correct decision for the future of the team, but until that is proven, the all-time goal and assist leader for USA is working for ESPN rather than the American squad during the World Cup.

Clint Dempsey, the team captain, will have his toughest test yet creating opportunities to find the back of the net without Donovan on the pitch. Donovan is proven to be more consistent than fellow striker Jozy Altidore. Altidore has the tools every striker needs but too often leaves fans expecting more. Coming off an undesirable club season, he will need to find his form to get USA on the board.

This group is the first in World Cup history in which all of the teams advanced past group stage in the previous World Cup. The number of things that need to happen for the Americans to advance past this talented group does seem unrealistic.

— Jonathan Duree


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