Countdown to World Cup

Ahead of the June 12 kickoff date for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named the USA’s 23-player roster. This roster was submitted to FIFA on June 2.
The team have played some warm-up matches. The match versus Azerbaijan ended 2-0 in favor of the U.S. team. The  U.S. also defeated Turkey by 2-1 on Sunday. Their last warm-up match will be played against Nigeria.
The team is in good shape and could cause a major upset in the tournament, but the team’s placement in Group G along with highly rated teams like Portugal, Germany and Ghana is a big concern for soccer lovers in the U.S. Group G has been described by soccer analysts as “the group of death.” Germany ranks second in the world, according to FIFA rankings, while Portugal ranks third. Germany and Portugal are among the favorite teams to win the FIFA World Cup, according to soccer analysts. Germany has players like Mezut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Marco Rues, while Portugal has the services of Fabio Coentrao and World Soccer Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo. Ghana also has a formidable team. These teams, on paper, truly look like the group of death. Can the U.S. team make it through this difficult league? That is the big question on the lips of many soccer enthusiasts in the country.
Head coach Klinsmann is confident and optimistic that his selected 23 players will make a positive impact in Brazil despite having to face Germany and Portugal in the group stage.
Surprisingly, he left out American career scoring leader Landon Donovan. He listed the following players for the world cup.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton) and Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia  Mönchengladbach  and DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland),  Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) and Klint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders)
The team will depend very much on the experience and skills of players like Klint Dempsey, Aron Jóhannsson and Michael Bradley to succeed in the World Cup.
Klint Dempsey, the captain of the team, is the most experienced player in the team since  the exclusion of Landon Donovan. The 31-year-old Texas native is perhaps the greatest American soccer player of the day. He’s a skilled forward and midfielder, a three-time U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, and he has been on the national team since 2004.
Klinsmann acknowledged his experience and said he’s ready to assume more vocal leadership in tabbing him to be team captain.
After earning All-Southern Conference honors in each of his three seasons at Furman (2001-03), he netted 17 goals and added 19 assists. He was selected a National Soccer Coaches Association All-American in 2002. Dempsey has starred in Major League Soccer and in the English Premier League. He scored 17 goals during the 2011-12 season at Fulham to establish a since-broken record for most goals scored in an EPL season by an American.
Before joining the U.S. soccer team camp in California, Dempsey scored eight goals and helped Seattle Sounders move to the top of the western conference.
23-year-old Aron Jóhannsson is another talented player who could make a difference in Brazil. He has scored 26 goals and seven assists across all competitions for AZ Alkmaar in Holland during the recent campaign. Since signing from AGF Aarhus, the Alabama-born forward has scored 29 times in 50 appearances.
Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley, who has scored six goals this season, is another player who can help the team achieve its goal, of winning the World Cup.
Although the U.S. team is ranked 14th in the world by FIFA and is in the so-called group of death, there is a chance they might get through the group stage considering the good run of form they have enjoyed in their warm-up matches.
It is the responsibility of the players and coaches to have the determination and zeal to get through the group stage and progress to the knock-out stages which should be their primary target.
Soccer is played on the pitch and not on the pages of newspapers. Any of the 32 teams could win the World Cup, and the U.S. team certainly stands a chance despite playing in the dreaded Group of death

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