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COUNTDOWN 27: Can USA profit from Donovan’s last hurrah?

COUNTDOWN 27: Can USA profit from Donovan’s last hurrah?
May 20
19:58 2014

If ever there was one American looking to put the country on the map as one of the best in the game of football (or soccer as it is known to Americans), it has to be Landon Donovan.

The Los Angeles Galaxy striker and legend has striven to improve the country’s league, snubbing the allure of Europe. Three World Cup appearances and five goals under his belt and a fourth tournament on the way, the 32-year-old will look to try for a last time.

Leading the country has seen him produce his best, as seen at the 2009 Confederations Cup where the former Bayern Munich loanee orchestrated the annihilation of World Champions, Spain.

Soccer is not the country’s major sporting event and it is overshadowed by the likes of basketball, baseball and American football. However, hosting of the 1994 FIFA World Cup™ and efforts of patriots such as Donovan have paved the way for increasing interest in the sport.

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Twenty years down the line, Americans now look forward to the hoisting of their star-and-stripes flag on the global football stage in the hope that their players light up the occasion.

It is, however, surprising that since placing third in the inaugural tournament of 1930 held in Brazil, the United States of America (USA) has not made its mark on world football.

The country has managed a quarter-final and two rounds-of-16 appearances; but since the quarter-final feat of Korea/Japan 1992, the American public has become critical of their side, while the pressure is also on the players to bring glory to the nation.

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This year, the pressure is no less, but the task ahead is much more daunting, with their placement in the tournament’s “group of death.”

The team is solid and full of experience, from goalkeeper Tim Howard to Landon Donovan. The USA has recently gained a reputation for big scalps, as seen in the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, where they finished in second place, defeating the likes of Italy and Spain, while Portugal fell by their sword at Korea/Japan 2002. Hopefully, the presence of a World Cup winner and experienced coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, whose 2011 hiring was a real coup, can rub off on the team in order to make at least the quarter finals. USA, a local champion in the muddy water of the CONCACAF region, will need to step up its game if it must survive the group stage.

Klinsmann led his country to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany and will be trying to take the USA to such height. Since his arrival, the German coach has looked to give the country its own style through quality coaching and leadership, while also instilling the solid work ethic and athleticism that would be needed in the World Cup stage.

The USA does not have the array of stars available in other top countries, but it does have big-game players Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, sturdy Michael Brady and Jermaine Jones in midfield, and strong and speedy Jozy Altidore. Determination has always been the country’s number one attribute.

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Strength

With the main strength in central midfield pairing of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, USA players will dutifully push on for the full 90 minutes to try and break down their opponent. When they smell a chance, they take it, Landon Donovan usually the protagonist.

Weakness

The defence remains the major weakness of the team; and coach Jurgen Klinsmann has not been able to crack this code due to the absence of talent an old age of those marshalling it presently. This could cost them dear in a group of death.

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Last line

Germany and Portugal beware. Although they would come up short in this tournament, Landon Donovan and the boys do not show fear and respect for top countries, whose image they have a reputation for denting.

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1 Comment

  1. victor o
    victor o May 21, 17:13

    However, Landon, Bradley and former Hotspurs player; Clint would strive to make an impact. But their impact would be little or nothing

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