SCOTT PETERSON - Thursday, June 12, 2014
Who's going to win? How about the Stars and Stripes? The official Yanks Abroad Brazil 2014 predictions.
After weeks and months of reading, scouting, analyzing, scrutinizing and Alexi-Lalas'ing every possible group, match, roster, defense, midfield and favela, Brazil 2014 is finally at the frigging door.
In the interests of sports' punditry, and subsequent blogospheric mockery, we asked the Yanks Abroad staffers to make predictions on how the US will fare and who'll emerge victorious from Rio's Maracana stadium on July 13th.
Without further ado, the completely unofficial, unsanctioned and unnecessary Yanks Abroad Brazil 2014 World Cup predictions in 100 words or less.
US: I expect Jozy to go bonkers driving defenders-and Sunderland supporters mad-with a stellar performance. Simultaneously, I expect to pull out heaps thinning hair screaming BEEEESLER! Our ‘defense' is set for a mauling. Hoping I'm wrong, 2 Points. 3 and out.
Winner: Italy. Yes, Italy. I recognize that draw with Luxembourg for what it is: a blueprint to success. Italy has a storied past of turning scandals into international success. Just check the history of Italy's past WC triumphs. 1934 & 1938: Fascism & Mussolini. 1982: Totonero & Paolo Rossi. 2006: Calciopoli. 2014: Luxembourg. Mark it 5 for the Azzurri.
US: Jurgen Klinsmann has received a lot of criticism for putting together such a young team. Despite questions about the backline, the midfield and forward positions are strong. Many believe the U.S. will be an easy mark in group play. However, I believe they will make it out of their group: 4 points and out in the second round.
Winner: Brazil. Jogo Bonito will run wild throughout the tournament. Hopefully, this will also banish any grudges people have against late Brazilian goalkeeper Barbosa who has been wrongly blamed for the team's failure to lift the cup in 1950.
US: People think that the US is in over their heads, but with the right game plan, they can get a result against any team in this group. If they can keep the ball off of the feet of the playmakers and control possession, the USA can frustrate the opposing teams and cause errors. Prediction: USA pulls 4 points out of the group, and advance to the second round, where they will have a tough game and lose in the round of 16.
Winner: Argentina. This is the World Cup where Lionel Messi pulls it together, and the lethal attacking force from the Argentines is too much for anyone else to handle.
US: The counter attack against Nigeria offered a glimmer of hope that maybe the United States has the offensive ability to compete with the best. However, this team lives and dies by the back four. I am more interested to see how Klinsmann uses the younger players, who barely featured in the send-off games. If they are on the roster, play them. Prediction: If they beat Ghana, they will make it to the knockout round. But in reality, I think they are eliminated in group play.
Winner: Belgium. A dark horse, but with the best keeper in the world and a young, dynamic team, they have the speed and attack that others cannot contend with.
US: When I saw the draw I said one point and out, so I will stand by that as much as I hope (and am starting to think) I am wrong. I see the US pressing too much and losing to Ghana, fighting out a tie with Portugal, and then losing to Germany.
Winner: I did a bracket and somehow ended up with Argentina as my winner, so I will stick to that. That prediction of course most likely means Argentina will now be out in the group stage.
US: It's cliché to say the first match is the most important, but for the Yanks, this is definitely the case - and not just because Ghana is their bogey team. In a "group of death," the Americans need an opening win before facing the behemoths in Portugal and Germany if they wish to advance to the knockout stage. Prediction: The U.S. squeaks out of the group but will go no further than the round of 16.
Winner: Brazil. It's at home, the Brazilians want it and the Seleção has the talent to win it all.
US: Klinsmann's words confuse me. Klinsmann's lineups confuse me. This team's performances confuse me. I'm befuddled, discombobulated and downright bamboozled. So, I consulted Miss Cleo, who assured me the stars are aligning for a run to the quarterfinals. Book it.
Winner: Argentina and Brazil sleekly shimmy through the group phase and fell a bevy of erstwhile contenders and overrated pretenders in a series of increasingly tense knockout rounds, to deliver the dream final that every fan of the sport has secretly dreamed of since the tournament's location was set in 2007. But in a shocking upset, Qatar unexpectedly surges in from out of nowhere with the winning bid to be crowned 2014 World Cup champions.