Stars and Stripes at the World Cup
USA are drawn into the proverbial ‘group of death’ with Germany, Portugal and Ghana – a tough ask for any national team including those that are considered established heavyweights. What’s more, it’s the second finals featuring USA and Ghana in the same section and, potentially, third finals in a row where this matchup could play a pivotal role. American soccer betting fans, who follow this global extravaganza avidly, know just how pivotal and deciding this matchup has proven to be over the last decade.
Since 1990, USA have qualified for each and every finals, with their best run in recent history seeing them through to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup. Then, the Americans finished second after the group stage, behind co-hosts South Korea and ahead of...wait for it...drum roll...Portugal. (Poland finished fourth in the group.) In the knockout stages, they went on to dismiss Mexico in the R16 with a 2-0 win before falling to Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals.
In 2006 Germany, USA enjoyed their most frustrating run at the finals in recent memory. They finished bottom of their group – incidentally, another proverbial ‘group of death’ occasion that they fell into with Italy, Ghana and Czech Republic– with a 0-1-2 mark. However, the section’s outcome was closer than their record would suggest. USA opened their campaign with a 3-0 defeat to the Czech Republic and then were lucky when an own goal saw them draw level 1-1 with heavyweights Italy and kept hope alive for the knockout stages. With everything on the line, the final clash with Ghana was a must-win for USA to advance. Tale told however, Ghana took the crucial “W” with a 2-1 win and advanced instead.
In 2010 South Africa, USA sent seismic shockwaves through World Cup betting markets by winning their group at the expense of favourites England. Although both USA and England finished with an identical 1-2-0 record and identical goal difference of +1, and were tied 1-1 in their group head-to-head, USA clinched top spot by scoring more goals than England over the course of three games.
USA took on Ghana in the R16; delivering, arguably, one of the most dramatic contests of the 2010 tournament’s knockout stages. Ghana took the early lead courtesy of Boateng, but the Americans fought valiantly. In the second half, USA were finally rewarded for their efforts as Landon Donovan shipped a penalty goal in the 62-minute to draw level 1-1. Thereafter, USA had plenty chances to win the game, but Richard Kingson (Ghana’s keeper) was virtually impenetrable. So to extra time the match went, only for the Americans to quickly rue those missed opportunities. Gyan scored the winner for Ghana three minutes in, breaking American hearts in the process.
It’s somewhat fitting, therefore, that the Stars and Stripes are to begin their 2014 campaign in Brazil against Ghana on Monday, June 16. Early betting odds on this highly anticipated clash are also appropriately tight, with USA listed at +188 to win the match while The Black Stars are tipped as the notional favourites at +150, and the draw is tipped at +220.
Indeed, USA will be after some redemption here, but, more importantly, it’s a must-win game if USA is to have any hope of advancing. Heavyweights Portugal loom next (June 22) followed by Germany (June 26), two matches where the odds are going to be stacked significantly against the Stars and Stripes and from which they’ll be sorely tested to take maximum points.
Odds stacked against USA
Jurgenn Klinsmann has issued his provisional squad for USA’s World Cup campaign, but his list has been met with mixed emotions and some debatable selections. The biggest omissions are Eddie Johnson and Oguchi Onyewu. His surprising choices include Timmy Chandler – a dual German-American national –and youngster Yedlin. The latter is by all accounts a potential star in the making.
Predictably, USA’s all-time top scorers Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan have made the preliminary cut. Also Icelandic convert Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), who many believe could be a surprise package for the Americans. As well as, Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna) and Jozy Altidore (Sunderland) to compliment the frontline.
Premier Leaguers Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) and Tim Howard (Everton), along with Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) have been called up for keeping duty and headline a wide selection of defenders and midfielders, including Michael Bradley (Toronto) and Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) to name a few.
In the ‘Group of Death’, USA originally emerged as the quintessential long shots at +1200 to win Group G. At the time, they were also priced at +15000 to win the competition proper. By contrast, The Black Stars were priced at +1100 to win Group G and at +25000 to win the competition proper.
Three weeks ahead of kickoff and changes have occurred in Group G’s outlook. USA’s Group Betting Odds have changed, shortening to +1100, which prompted Ghana’s odds to grow to +1200. As well, USA’s odds to win outright have swelled to +22500 across betting platforms.
Whichever way you slice it, the 2014 World Cup odds are stacked heavily against USA as powerhouse Germany and Portugal are widely expected to advance. Still, USA could potentially shake things up in this section, especially if Germany and Portugal settle on a draw in their opener, effectively opening the door for one of the underdogs to deliver the improbable upset in this section.
American soccer betting fans have to believe it’s possible for USA to advance. That’s what World Cup betting is all about, supporting your country.
Let’s not forget, USA did win their group in South Africa against all the odds. As well, in 2002, they finished ahead of Portugal in their group. Theoretically, the possibility does exist. Even if it’s slim at the moment, set to the tune of +260 odds in Group Qualification betting markets.
One thing is for certain, USA’s trademark never-say-die attitude on the big occasion is sure to deliver a big effort. So you can do no worse than backing USA on your World Cup Picks.