World Cup 2014 kicks off on June 12th, 2014, a mere 9 days away from now. The USMNT schedule begins on Monday, June 16th against Ghana.
This past weekend, thanks to Degree Men, I had the privilege of watching the USMNT take on Turkiye in their 2nd of three warm-up games heading in to Brazil’s World Cup 2014. Throughout the game I had the opportunity to chat with Team USA legend & USA Soccer HOF inductee, Brian McBride, and it was a true eye opener as to just how little I know about both the current USMNT and the USMNTs of yesteryear.
And since I care so deeply about each and every one of you Guyism readers, I didn’t want you to find yourself come June 16th watching a game and get called out by some douche-knuckle bandwagon EPL fan for not knowing jacksh*t about our boys in Red, White, & Blue. So here’s a quick rundown of USMNT trivia you should know before World Cup 2014.
Who holds the all-time USMNT record for both goals AND assists?
Landon Donovan holds so many USMNT records it’s actually overwhelming. He’s the all-time USMNT leader for both goals AND assists. He’s the first USMNT player to score 50 international goals and later he became the first USMNT player to score 50 international goals AND 50 assists.
So how does this factor in to the World Cup 2014 USMNT roster? Well, for starters he was left off of the roster. Which led to an extreme outpour of ye olde ‘rabble rabble‘ by the fans. But this past weekend in the Degree Men suite I had the opportunity to pick former USMNT player Brian McBride’s mind about our coach’s decision to leave Donovan off the roster. My assumption was that having a seasoned vet like Donovan there would be invaluable for the younger players on the US roster.
However, McBride sort of shut that logic down pretty quickly. When I asked him about it affecting ‘the locker room’ and ‘team morale’ his response was sort of along the lines of ‘that’s just not who Landon was on the team, or who he wanted to be.’ Simply stated, Landon Donovan was out there as a competitor, and to score as many goddamn goals as he could for Uncle Sam. But, there are players who fit current in to Jürgen Klinsmann’s (our current USMNT coach) new scheme better than Donovan would have. So there we go, controversy averted, let’s all move on towards this current roster and not focus on the past.
Who was the first USMNT player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup?
Bert Patenaude is credited with the first hat trick from a USMNT player, which took place in the 1930 World Cup (in Uruguay), and the goals were scored against Paraguay. Sports Illustrated has those goals from Bert Patenaude ranked in their ‘The 10 Most Significant Goals In U.S. Soccer History,’ and it’s easy to see why.
This was a time when the USMNT had to actually travel by boat to an extremely hostile host country, and then represent the Stars & Stripes. This a climate we simply cannot fathom within the context of modern-day International athletics, there’s just no comparison to the night-and-day experience of training-to-competition that these guys were faced with.
Then ‘ol ‘Balls of Steel’ Bert shows up and sinks three in the back of the net against Paraguay. Back home and in the host nation, news of Patenaude’s feat was ignored by the press almost entirely, and the record only lived on through via word-of-mouth by his teammates at that World Cup. All very strange things for what should have been (and in fact, is) a truly monumental occasion of US soccer.
The USA appeared in the only 2 knock-out games in World Cup history that didn’t feature a team from Europe or South America
I’m not sure what level of significance this obscure stat actually carries, but in the only two knock-out games in World Cup history that did not feature a team from Europe or South America the USA participated. The first in 2002, USA vs Mexico (highlighted above), and the latter in 2010, USA vs Ghana.
In the first game the USA dismantled our nearest and biggest rival Mexico to the tune of a 2-0 victory en route to showing the world that Team USA has come to cement their place on the big stage.
The second game was an absolute kick to the jimmies of a loss for Team USA, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Ghana who have in recent years become the biggest obstacle for the UMSNT. And so it only makes sense that we open up play in the 2014 World Cup against Ghana. A chance at redemption, a chance to get our entire tournament started on the right path….or a way to send all the USMNT hopes and dreams plummeting before they even saw the light of day.
Who was the first USMNT player to score in more than 2 World Cups?
By scoring against Portugal in the 2002 World Cup, Brian McBride became the first American player to score in multiple World Cups. He’s since been joined by the likes of Clint Dempsey (current USMNT captain) and Landon Donovan.
As I mentioned earlier, I had the opportunity this past Sunday to chat with Brian some courtesy of Degree Men. Degree’s currently the official deodorant sponsor of Team USA and have been working closely with the team in preparation towards Brazil.
Since February, fans have been demonstrating their national pride and support for the U.S. Men’s National Team by uploading photos to DegreeSoccer.com. The images were then arranged in a unique red, white and blue photo mosaic design that represents the fans back in the U.S. and features several players from the U.S. Men’s National Team with “DO:MORE FOR U.S. SOCCER” prominently displayed. Starting June 12, fans can also interact with the digital version of the Fan Banner at DegreeSoccer.com to search and find their photo within the mosaic design.
“Soccer is growing in popularity here in the states and it’s amazing to see the fans’ support displayed through the Degree® Fan Banner,” said Clint Dempsey, U.S. Men’s National Team Captain. “Degree Men® has provided a truly unique way for fans to be a part of the action in Brazil even if they can’t physically be there. Seeing the Fan Banner and knowing it represents all of the great support we’re getting back at home will definitely motivate the team to DO:MORE throughout the tournament.”
What are Team USA’s odds to win in the 2014 World Cup?
So this is tricky, as Vegas offers both odds for a team winning the Group Stage and winning it all. Team USA currently stands at +900 to win Group G, compared to Germany’s -175, Portugal’s +270, and Ghana’s +1000. So essentially Vegas has us as finishing 3rd in Group G and not advancing. Tangentially related to this is how people love to talk about the ‘Group of Death.’
The ‘Group of Death’ discussion opens up such a massive can of worms, for such a variety of reasons. Factors contributing to the useless arguments include the want/need for your nation to be playing the hardest group, so when they lose, you have that excuse. There’s also plenty of national bias at play. On the world scale it’s not often that Team USA is given the benefit of the doubt, and people love to hate on our boys in red, white, and blue…never giving we ‘MURICANS the satisfaction of saying we’re playing the best. And on the other hand, for some reason unknown to me, American soccer fans seem even more obsessed than other nations in regards to the ‘Group of Death,’ as if it’s not a real win unless the USA’s in that group.
Well, this year we’re not. There’s plenty of arguing going around for and against Group G being the most difficult, but as it stands, Group G’s betting odds come in at 3rd behind Group F and Group A. And as you can see here, Group B’s nipping right at our heels: Group A +270, Group F +375, Group G +400, Group B +425. So that’s that, stop claiming the US is in the ‘Group of Death,’ we’re not.
So, now that you’re slightly more knowledgeable than you were a few minutes ago my only hope is that you’ll retain some of this for when you’re hammered in some crowded bar chanting ‘USA! USA! USA!’ during the games, because ultimately that’s what the World Cup is about in America, right? Getting hammered and blindly supporting our country at the top of our lungs? Here’s a glorious highlight video of the USMNT from last year to get you pumped.