I’m on my way to South Africa for the World Cup right now with my friends Andy and Katie. This morning, we flew out of Milwaukee to New York and will be exploring the city for the day. Late tonight, we fly out of NYC and head to Dubai, where we catch a plane to South Africa. We’ve got tickets for USA vs. England, USA vs. Slovenia, USA vs. Algeria and Spain vs. Switzerland and we hope to be able to catch Brazil vs. Ivory Coast and Cameroon vs. Netherlands.
We’re going to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Rustanberg, Durban and hopefully Kruger National Park for a safari and we’re all excited. It’s my first trip to Africa and I’m hoping its as amazing as World Cup 2006 in Germany was. I’m confident that the South Africans will pull off a great tournament, just like the Germans did in 2006.
I’m not really sure what to expect out of the US squad. I think the US got a fairly easy group compared to what they could have gotten, but there are not easy teams in this tournament, save North Korea. I’m thinking the US will advance and most likely lose to Germany in the round of 16. I’m looking for Landon Donovan to continue to build on his breakout performance in the 2009 Confederations Cup and his loan stint at Everton and really show that he is a world class player. Clint Dempsey will continue to shine out on the left flank like he has for Fulham.
With Charlie Davies not fully recovering from a deadly car crash, the US is really thin at forwards. Luckily, three previously unheralded forwards seem to be hitting their stride right at the right time. Look for big things from Hurcluez Gomez and Jozy Altidore. The most improved player from qualifying til now seems to be Jose Francisco Torres. I think he can have a breakout performance at the World Cup, attracting attention from clubs in the best leagues in Europe.
The biggest problem for the US is at the back. Tim Howard is a world class goal keeper, but the defense in front of him looks shaky. Oguchi Onyewu looks amazing in 2009, but suffered a knee injury in qualifying. He doesn’t seem fully recovered. Green Bay’s own Jay Demerit looks solid as the other center back, but the outside backs will have trouble with fast players like England’s Aaron Lennon and Wayne Rooney.
The African sides look to be really strong this year. Ivory Coast looks really good, but they have a really hard group. Cameroon and Ghana looked solid, but both are suffering from injuries and the hosts, South Africa have a decent squad that will be boosted by the home support.
So who’s going to win it all? I’d love to see Spain win it all, but I don’t see it happening. I think they’ll make a deep run, only to come up short. Argentina is an easy pick since they have arguably the best player in the world in Lionel Messi. As Arsenal’s coach said after getting lit up for 4 goals, Messi is “like a video game player.” Ultimately I can’t see Argentina taking it because they have a moron for a coach in Diego Maradona. England, Germany, Portugal, France and other traditional powers look to be weak, but you never know when a team will catch fire, like Germany and France in 2006. I’m going to go with the safe pick and choose Brazil, even though they left Ronaldhino at home.
I can’t wait to be in South Africa and hope to write a few posts during my down time, but I can’t guarantee anything. I have 2 posts scheduled to post while I’m gone, but any new posts I write in South Africa will be about South Africa. I’ll be back on June 30th!