Today, the U.S. Men's National Team has a chance to earn enough points to advance to the second round of the 2014 World Cup. A win earns a berth and also puts them in a better position to take first in the group.
Let's look back at the last World Cup meeting between the two sides. On June 5, 2002, the U.S. played its first match of the 2002 World Cup, earning all three points against European powerhouse Portugal. It was a game that shocked the world and awoke many U.S. critics. It was a game that would pave the way for the U.S.'s best World Cup run since 1930. John O'Brien scored first, and the USMNT went on to tally two more before the half. As a D.C. United fan, it was the Brian McBride diving header goal that really stuck in my mind because the perfectly placed cross came from none-other than one of my favorite former DCU midfielders, Tony Sanneh.
But that was then, and today we head to battle, once again against Portgual who sits fourth in the FIFA world rankings. How confident do you feel today? Do you believe? Need to get jazzed? Watch this:
On Wednesday, June 16, I woke up antsy and nervous. The U.S. Men’s National Team would match up against Ghana later that day. Ghana: a team who has had our number for two World Cups now. Ghana: who dealt the final blow in 2006, and knocked us out once again in the round of 16 in 2010. Ghana: our kryptonite.
I went on a run to get the jitters out, but as game-time approached, my nerves were long gone. As a relatively young soccer nation, the U.S. has made great strides. We finished first in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, and have recently looked less like a team with something to prove and more like a nation that’s confident in its ability to compete with any team in the world.
As our national anthem played, I stood and sang my heart out at Arena das Dunas with 22,000 of my new American friends. I had no idea that the next 90 minutes might be some of the proudest of my life.
If you’re reading this, you probably watched the game, so I don’t need to give you a play-by-play. What struck me weren't the statistics; stats won’t win you games, let alone the World Cup. Last night, Ghana was the better team on paper. But while they won the possession battle; we came to win the war.
With veterans like Tim Howard, Damarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey on our roster, the U.S. had a leadership core working on field to implement Jurgen Klinnsman’s style of play. But to me, the fiercest competitors in the game were Jermain Jones and Kyle Beckerman. These two battled with heart and lead the team with discipline, playing as if this was the championship game. Jones seemed to be all over the field, involved in every big play. There were stretches where he looked like the only player who belonged out there. Beckerman never lost the ball and connected the field with his passing, staying composed when others weren’t.
The U.S. went into the match 13th in FIFA rankings and came out no longer the underdogs. We looked every bit like a team deserving of a top spot. Americans should be proud and confident— each game is just one step closer to the goal, and I, for one, am looking forward to the next step against Portugal.
Join D.C. United at Reston Town Center on Sunday, 6/22 to watch USA take on Portugal! Admission is FREE, details here.
Who've you got in 2014? Will Spain take another four years at the top? Will Brazil celebrate its sixth trophy lift? Does the US stand a chance?
Fill out your bracket in MLS' Brazil Bracket Challenge in the D.C. United fan group, where you will compete against fellow fans of the Black-and-Red as well as some of the players themselves! But it doesn't end there, the winner of the group has the chance to win a U.S. Men's National Team jersey and four tickets to D.C. United's home match on July 20.
How to Enter
- Register your bracket prior to the start of the World Cup on June 12
- Check back regularly to see your rank
- Follow the D.C. United players' brackets
Read: Full contest rules.
Last night's U.S. Men's National Team Friendly was one of the last opportunities for players in the USMNT pool to make their case for inclusion into the World Cup team. Jurgen Klinsmann has until FIFA's June 2 deadline to finalize his 23-man squad. Starting on the bench last night for the USMNT was D.C. United's Eddie Johnson and Bill Hamid, both hungry for a coveted spot on the plane to Brazil.
In the 64 minute, Johnson came on for Chris Wondolowski. Wondo already had one goal on the night, and once again proved that he can produce for the U.S. But Johnson was ready to make a statement of his own. The veteran forward made several dangerous runs, setting up scoring opportunities for the USMNT. Finally, in the 86 minute of action, Johnson was fed a through ball from teammate Clint Dempsey. The striker's class and comfort on the ball was evident as he cleanly put it past Mexico's keeper. Unfortunately, Johnson's goal was ruled offside, but upon review, it looks a little bit suspicious to us... what do you think?
Did EJ make his case for inclusion in the World Cup roster?
Recently, D.C. United reached out to our loyal and passionate Supporters Groups asking them to help us pump up the team up for 2014. RFK's weight room needed a facelift, and who better to complete the task than the TIFO masters themselves?
The District Ultras accepted the challenge and spent most of last Saturday night diligently painting the weight room in time for the team's return from Charleston. There is still more work to be done, and we'll have the big reveal for you soon, but for now, check out what the Ultras have been up to.
Will you be at RFK this Saturday for the Home Opener? Check out the Home Opener Pack - 2 tickets + 2 caps for $44
This morning, D.C. United and US Men's National Team striker Eddie Johnson joined Extra Time Radio. Listen to his first-hand accounts from the USMNT's tour of Brazil, and his thoughts on his potential role at the World Cup in June.
When asked about the trade to D.C. United, Johnson expressed, "I'm excited to be playing for coach Ben Olsen, a guy who is a winner at the end of the day."
As the sun sets in Bradenton, D.C. United wraps up the first full day of training in Florida. The team put in a full day, with a session in the morning and one later in the afternoon.
“Day one of training was great," Homegrown newcomer Jalen Robinson said, "I’m just excited to be here and get after it and get to know my new teammates better. I don’t know many people except for the academy guys, so getting to know everyone and build that team chemistry is important to me.”
Mealtime at the hotel
What's preseason without a bit of conditioning?
— Chris Pontius (@ChrisPontius13) January 16, 2014
— Anthony DeAngelo (@anthonydeangelo) January 16, 2014
— Fred Karl (@Theretofore) January 16, 2014
In this week's edition of #TBT, we'd like to stroll down memory lane with D.C. United's Re-Entry draft selection Bobby Boswell. The defender, who spent the first three years of his MLS career with the Black-and-Red was once famous for more than his soccer skills.
At age 11, Boswell was on Nickelodeon GUTS! He may have cheated his way onto the show, and he may not have won in overall points, but the MegaCrag is all that matters anyways, right?