While the din of the vuvuzela might render you deaf this World Cup, there's another noise that, as an American, you should find just as irksome. No, it's not the sound of ESPN's regulars attempting to call a game (JP Dellacamera, anyone?). It's the declaration that comes along every four years by many people in this country, whether they're sports fans or not, that the U.S. will get trounced. Naturally, this refrain makes many Americans jump ship to another, more reputable team. If rooting for the U.S. is not in the cards because you think the team's chances of doing well are slim, as longtime soccer players and fans, let us disabuse you of this notion.
First of all, the Yanks are good. Are we the best in the world? No, but our chances at going far (to the quarterfinals) are not as much of a long shot as many would expect. Our defense rests on the inconsistent Oguchi Onyewu, but fans should have no problem cheering for our relatively strong lineup of strikers, Jose Altidore and the scrappy Clint Demspey. There's also Landon Donovan, our fearless, intense, super-fast captain, who if used correctly is easily the US's most dangerous weapon. He's also seen first-hand the team's potential. He was on the squad in 2002 when we broke through to the quarterfinals. And he captained the Yanks last year at the Confederations Cup, when we beat number one-ranked Spain and went up two goals against soccer powerhouse, Brazil, who later came back to win the final. Perhaps the most telling sign of why we're a team to beat was the frustration in Donovan's voice when he said in a post-game interview, "We are at the point where we don't want respect. We want to win."