BRENT LATHAM - Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Can the United States - under any circumstances, beat Spain?
That's the question I keep getting asked. Here's what I just told Spanish sports journal Marca:
In football there are two teams on the field, and either can win. However, there are matches in which one side so outclasses the other in talent that only an uncanny series of circumstances would lead to an upset. That's the case with Spain and all but about half a dozen teams in the world right now. The US is not one of those teams.
I already said in the blog yesterday that there are two possible way this game could play out.
Scenario A: If the US were an over matched African or South American team, or even Mexico for that matter, we would come out guns blazing, getting after the Spanish, creating all the chances we can, and letting things sort themselves out from there. If that happens this could be a monumental breakout game for the likes of Landon Donovan.
But the highlight reel after the game will then show Torres and Villa finishing about three chances a piece against an overwhelmed US back line, maybe the US puts in two or three of its own, the world will begin to fall in love with American soccer and we will find ourselves respected by many.
And we will have lost, big time.
But it's not gonna happen that way.
Scenario B: We're the US, known for our discipline and fight, and we're going to pack it in and hope to create the odd chance while limiting Spain's. Unfortunately this isn't likely to work either. Over lunch today I re-watched the Spain - South Africa match from last round, in which Spain used mostly backups, and even the replacements are so patient touching the ball around that the goals always come in the end.
So what's the best option? Well, in terms of chances for victory, the odds are slightly better if you can limit Spain's chances and hope to take advantage of the two or three good ones you get. Bob Bradley will have ciphered that - and that's almost certainly what we'll see tonight in Bloemfontein.
Please note when commenting that I am not endorsing such a strategy. Few people like to see that kind of game, and - as you probably know - neither do I. The US is playing with house money at this point and I'd like to see them open it up, even though they will almost certainly lose in the end.
What do you think? I'll be live twittering analysis from about an hour before game time on @yanks_abroad. Tune into my cultural and life in S.A. updates in the meantime @brentjavan.