Spiked Comet Tim Weah spoke for his USA teammates after the big win.
I always say it’s us against the world, he said, on FOX Sports, from the World Cup in Qatar. Because nobody believed that the United States could play good football.
There has been a lot of talk lately, thanks to an ongoing advertising campaign, about the soccer vs. football debate. Ads dotted with celebrities pretend it’s a matter of linguistics. But if we did that, it’s really a question of status. Basically, football refers to the beautiful and sophisticated game played internationally while soccer refers to the game played in inferior ways by Americans, especially high school athletes who did not come out for the actual football team.
But Weah was right. With his team drawing against mighty England and then beating Iran, the United States played good football indeed. And maybe that was the problem. For the past eight years, our national team has played soccer. This year, finally, finally, the Americans were footballers.
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Their game broke. Team USA was held off by St. Louisians Tim Ream and Josh Sargent, both of St. Dominic High School, who showed confident and creative possessions, especially in the first halves of their three games. During a play in Tuesday’s win over Iran, American Yunus Musah unleashed a step forward, then another! to get around a stunned defender. On the FOX show, Stu Holden could only say: Goodness, gracious! That’s how good, graceful good they were sometimes.
And the US-Iran match was played, fittingly, on Musah’s 20th birthday. He was born in 2002. The last time the United States played in the World Cup, he was not yet a teenager. Team USA is the second-youngest at this World Cup (and Our Towns Ream, at 35, skews the average age more towards the older side than it otherwise would). So that’s the problem with Team USA this year. Other teams have reached the knockout stage of the World Cup, whether in 2002, 2010 and 2014. But this American group has gotten so good so fast, most of the same guys could be back for 2026 ( and even then be considered young) .
As for the current World Cup, the United States have indeed succeeded by reaching the knockout stages. However, if you just go by the FIFA World Rankings, the United States entered the winter ranked 16th. So the team basically did what they were supposed to do by making it to the final 16. Whatever your view, Saturday gives the team their chance to outdo themselves and run the imagination like Weah in the open field.
Can the United States beat the Netherlands?
Well, you know what the Dutch say that Aanval is de beste verdediging!
That is to say, the best defense is a good attack.
The United States have only scored two goals in the first three games, and it might take two goals to win this game alone. Christian Pulisic, of course, was part of both goals, providing the magnificent assist for Weah’s goal against Wales and scoring the winner against Iran. It’s unclear if Pulisic will play on Saturday.
After being hospitalized as a precaution following his collision with the Iranian keeper, the Americas No. 10 returned to the team hotel to greet his teammates. And he posted on social media that hell is playing, but that’s not necessarily the team’s official word. Brenden Aaronson, 22, would be a usable replacement for Pulisic. The youngster has magic in his boots. But Pulisic is the pulse. The boys need him.
In the FIFA World Rankings, the No. 5 team is England, while the No. 8 is the Netherlands, called the Oranje, but not to be confused with Rusty Staub baseballs (called at Montreal Le Grande Orange).
The No.8, however, looked a bit wobbly in the games against Uruguay and Senegal. And, like America, the Netherlands also missed out on the 2018 World Cup. However, that’s about where the comparisons end with the red-white-and-blue and the Oranje. This nation’s illustrious footballing history includes a third-place finish in 2014 and, in the big tournament in 2010, a second-place finish against Spain. The Dutch have never won everything, although they also played for the championship in 1974 and 1978, during the era of Johan Cruyff and total football.
The United States’ greatest World Cup triumph was its only victory in the round of 16, 20 years ago, beating Mexico by the famous scoreline, dos a cero (2-0). Brian McBride, the former St. Louis University star, scored one of the two. He is now the General Manager of the United States Men’s National Team.
The odds predict that America will lose. Logic and reasoning say the dream dies on Saturday. But the Americans play good football. The Americans belonged to England that day. We want to think, on the contrary, that they will make the Saturday game a game.
But I don’t think the United States will win the knockout stage until 2026.
In today’s video at 10 a.m., columnist Ben Hochman discusses a possible trade of the Cardinals for a starting receiver. Also, happy birthday to Bo Jackson! And, as always, Hochman chooses a random St. Louis Cards card from the hat.
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