After a surprising draw with England, the U.S. soccer team now finds themselves in a much different position: the favorite. The opposition, Slovenia, goes into the game as a confident underdog, knowing that even a defeat would not eliminate them from contention.
Because of this difficult position, a loss by the U.S. team suddenly seems more than possible, and perhaps likely.
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1. They have to win
Against England, the Yanks knew that even a loss by ten goals would not have eliminated the possibility of advancing. Against Slovenia, anything worse than a draw will likely eliminate them completely, and even a draw would leave them in a difficult situation in their final group match against Algeria. With the U.S. team going forward to attack, Slovenia will be in a great position to sit back and play for the counter attack. For those that don’t believe this tactic works, see the case of Spain v. Switzerland.
2. They are prone to red cards
For anybody who watched the friendly with the Netherlands, or last year’s Confederation’s Cup, you know that the Yanks are more capable of red cards than goals. If they get a red card in the game against Slovenia, look for them to sit back and defend rather than go for goals. Most likely to get red carded: Ricardo Clark, who looked lost at times during the England game, especially during Gerrard’s goal. He won’t want to be held responsible for another goal, so expect some hard tackles.
3. They hate skill and love stability
Bob Bradley seems likely to keep the same defensive lineup that played against England, rather than use more skilled players such as Jose Torres and Maurice Edu. A strong possibility: U.S. team gets frustrated in attack and starts sending too many men forward, thus leaving themselves open to a counter attack goal. If the Yanks go down a goal, don’t expect a comeback. The Green Dragons did not fail to win a single game in qualifying after drawing first blood.
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