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.
Unmarked, presented by AT&T
D.C. United Manager of Digital Communication Rebecca Payne shares her favorite memories from past World Cups, what she is most excited for in Brazil and how the passion for soccer in America has grown.
Donald Wine, President of American Outlaws D.C. and member of the Screaming Eagles talks supporting both DCU and USMNT.
D.C. United Marketing Coordinator Adam Hoyt talks working for an MLS Club while supporting USMNT and when his passion for the Red, White and Blue began.
Marcel Hillie of the America Outlaws DC Chapter explains how he became involved in the leadership core of AO, where his passion for both DCU and USMNT stem from and his plans for World Cup 2014.
Victoria Clark of AO Baltimore shares her unique perspective on USMNT, having joined AO after experiencing the passion of the supporters group through social media.
Unmarked, presented by AT&T
On Saturday, May 10, D.C. United Supporters joined Sons of Ben in the tailgate before the Black-and-Red took on the Union to honor the memory of Eric Shertz. United supporters reflected on what it means to be part of MLS' Supporters' Culture, explaining we are a family, regardless of the colors your wear. #WeStandForShertz
Watch previous episodes:
Unmarked Extras: Check out these two short clips from our visit to the Brewery.
We love that DC Brau makes business decisions with the environment in mind. Don't you?
Find out the thoughts behind the seemingly random pieces of art at the brewery. Okay, well, they are random, and we don't really learn the thoughts behind them. But they're all cool nonetheless.
In the first episode of Unmarked, we take you behind the scenes of the first match of the 2014 Atlantic Cup. We mic'd up Ben Olsen for an exclusive look at the rivalry between D.C. United and New York. Enjoy!
Tomorrow is College Night, so we did some research. Here is the list of current, active MLS players who attended a local college.
Marc Burch – 2005
Taylor Kemp – 2009-2012
Ethan White – 2009-2010
Chris Seitz – 2005-2006
Graham Zusi – 2005-2008
Christiano Francois - 2012
A.J. DeLaGarza – 2005-2008
Omar Gonzalez -2006-2008
Robbie Rogers - 2005
Patrick Mullins – 2010-2013
Maurice Edu – 2004-2006
Zac MacMath – 2008-2010
Schillo Tshuma – 2012-2013
Rodney Wallace – 2007-2008
John Stertzer – 2009-2012
Clarence Goodson – 2000-2003
Jeremy Hall – 2006-2008
Dan Gargan – 2001-2004
Tommy Muller – 2009-2012
Steve Neumann – 2010-2013
Ian Christianson – 2009-2012
Billy Knutsen – 2010-2013
Andrew Dykstra – 2005-2008
Matt Watson – 2004-2005