Friday, March 27, 2009

US Soccer: Fishing for Minnows

Left, The Dude Abides, courtesy of the USMNT Blog

It's 2009, and unlike 1997 or 2001, the US is a stone-cold lock to qualify for the World Cup. In those years, the Yanks were maturing, and wins in Central America were something to dream about. Now, as the US guns for its sixth-straight World Cup finals appearance, the Yanks are massive favorites ahead of matches at El Salvador (Saturday, 9:30p et, ESPN2), and in Nashville vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Wednesday, 7:30p, ESPN2).

Should the US pick up wins in both matches, the Yanks' 9 points would put them halfway to clinching a berth with seven qualifying matches to play.

On Saturday, the US gets M Pablo Mastroeni back from suspension, but will be without G Tim Howard (yellow cards). Frankly though, with Guzan, Bocanegra, Oneywu, Ching, Altidore, Bradley, Dempsey, and Donovan, and Kljestan on the roster, our boys could shut out the hosts and put three or four past the Salvadorans, who had to rally to draw Honduras at home in their first Hexagonal match.

This qualifying slog is not about simply qualifying, but gunning for seed that will keep them away from one European power during next summer's finals. With wins in qualifying, and strong showings in this summer's Confederations Cup and Gold Cup, the US just might get there.

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