TSG: World Cup Picks & Storylines

Oh my, we are just about there. South Africa vs. Mexico. A month without sleep. A month with upsets. A month with upset girlfriends, wives and, well, pets.

Here you go. The Internet doesn’t lie, but the TSG writers will claim it does when we look back at the glaring mistakes we’ve made. The TSG picks…followed by some TSG storylines.

TSG Team Picks

Selected TSG World Cup Storylines

• Is there more parity in the global soccer world now or is it still dominated by UEFA and CONMEBOL? (Shaun)

Maicon, that is all....

•  The best player in the world right now is not Lionel Messi. It’s not Wayne Rooney. Arjen Robben is not in the house, nor is Didier Drogba, one elbow or two. The best player in the world owns the right flank for club and country, so much so that he’s relegated Barcelona’s top defensive weapon to his international side’s bench. His name is Maicon. (Matthew)

• In the semis, Spain struggle with the USA again but do just enough, going through to the final on penalties after things were locked 2-2 after extra time. Germany’s luck finally runs out, losing 2-0 to Sven’s dynamic Ivory Coast team. (Tuesday)

Alexis Sanchez of Chile–good for one deft-defying YouTube highlight in June. If the sliver of a country progresses past the group stage, Sanchez’s name will be all over the triumph more so than fellow Chilean attacker Mark Gonzalez. This is Sanchez’s coming of age tournament. (Matthew)

• You want a major upset? I don’t have one, but if I did it could be Denmark over Spain. The Danes have a solid backline and play well as a team. (Matthew)

• No African team seems able to take a deep run in a tournament on its own soil, can a team step up and represent the continent? No. Zero African teams will advance from the group stage, a great embarrassment for African football. (Brian)

• Iker Casillas is the best goalie on one of the best teams. Fact.

But will another goalie–Hugo Lloris of France, Tim Howard of the United States–steal the show by advancing  team based in large part of their ability to deny what seemed as the inevitable. Bet on Howard first. (Matthew)

Kiwi Rory Fallon made the country think All Whites before All Blacks...

• Who is doing the most with seemingly so little? North Korea? England? New Zealand?! (Shaun)

The dark horse: which team that is not one of the traditional powers will make a deep run? No dark horse team gets too deep, but COMNEBOL reps hard as Paraguay and Uruguay reach the quarterfinals. (Brian)

•  Netherlands look the early tournament favorite, scoring 7 goals and taking the full 9 points from the group, leaving Cameroon to scrape through over Denmark on goal difference.

Italy draw their first match but after a 1-0 win over New Zealand look set to top their group up 1-0 late in the final match against Slovakia before falling victim to a 93rd minute equalizer, pushing them to second and a match-up with the Netherlands while Paraguay gets Cameroon. (Tuesday)

• Will an injury to Didier Drogba propel fellow striker Gervinho an Ivory Coast deep in the tournament. I’m undecided here, but wouldn’t be surprised. Gervinho, quite a talent. (Matthew)

• Spain wins their first World Cup over Ivory Coast, the first African finalist. The USA has their revenge for 2002, putting 4 past Germany in the 3rd place match. Drawing with the USA seems to become a rite of passage for the eventual World Cup champions. (Tuesday)

• Are the Africans throwing a good party? Germany was amazing can they compare? (Shaun)


40 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Hercules3076 on 2010/06/09 at 11:38 PM

    Oh, this will be a blast! Just imagine, in about than 48 hours, we will have actual WC gameplay to think about!


  2. Posted by Sam on 2010/06/10 at 5:51 AM

    Obviously this blog is proof that you guys support the US. But come on now! Not one of you believes we can win this thing?

    I’m not going to go with all this “being honest with ourselves” and “we have a long way to go as a team” nonsense.

    Our teams awesome, we have a good selection of in form, under the radar, and legendary players.

    We made the semi-final in 2002 with Jeff Agoos on our team!

    We can do it!


    • I think there’s a realistic route for the USA to a semifinal out of this group. Here’s why:

      Our Round of 16 is with a group D side (Germany, Ghana, Australia, Serbia), all of whom are very solid teams but teams that we could realistically get a result against. Our quarter would be against a team from Group A (Mexico, Uruguay, France, S. Africa) or B (Argentina, Nigeria, S Korea, Greece). France may not get out of a group which includes 2 other strong teams and the hosts. The really frightening team here is Argentina and I just don’t think you can count on a smooth march out of the group and on to the semifinals with Maradonna at the helm.

      If Argentina win the group, we can avoid them by winning our group after a historic result against England. If Argentina trip up and come second, we avoid them. If Argentina win their group and S Africa scrape qualification, there’s a tricky Round of 16 match-up with the hosts. If we face them in the quarters, we’d just have to beat them. However, you have to figure somewhere some team is going to benefit from an Argentina melt-down – why not the USA?

      Is it hopeful? Definitely. Quarters is where I’d put my money but is it entirely out of the realm of possibility that we can put together 4 good results in 5 games against that competition? No way.


      • Posted by Sam on 2010/06/10 at 6:26 AM

        I think we can go on a tear and beat everyone in the world, and I don’t care if it’s Brazil or Spain or England or any of the other countries… all of their historical greatness (or “greatness” in England’s case) is just a technicality caused by an extended mistake made by the United States sporting establishment in not taking the sport seriously.

        The yanks are coming, end of story. We’re going to win the World Cup, and it’s going to make a lot of countries with markedly inferior athletes very upset because they will have to find a new sport to pretend that they are better at than us.

        Screw pragmatic lack of commitment to victory, or looking at the statistics objectively and finding a spot on the chart where one could say we did “good enough.”


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 7:14 AM

          Greatness? Spain have never won the World Cup. I think that they have overcome the disruptive political forces of yesteryear, and the mental block of getting past the QFs by winning Euro2008. This could very well be their year.

          In terms of ‘great’ World Cup pedigree, you can only include Brazil and Germany IMO – and perhaps Italy.


        • Posted by pckilgore on 2010/06/10 at 7:16 AM

          That just became the longest quote to go on my tumblr page. I f*cking love that kind of mentality.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 6:48 AM

        I just wanted to add this to my original logic reagrding America’s progress. I think the probable Last 16 game against Germany potentially more difficult than the QF.

        I am also a little undecided about Argentina. Rationally, looking at their WCQ and how they were very very unconvincing to even qualify for The Finals, one could feasibly say that they might not even progress out of their group. But (and there is always a but), how can you disregard a team with so much talent? All it takes is a moment of individual brilliance and the ball is in the back of the net. Their unpredictability is killing me…


        • Posted by Sam on 2010/06/10 at 7:04 AM

          I think Argentina is playing like a recovering addict… moments of hope surrounded by the cloud of imminent failure…

          In the words of Alcoholics Anonymous: “You’ve got to hit the bottom to push off.”

          I’d say they’ve hit bottom, and now they’re sort of half way there, but could easily relapse.

          I’d probably relapse a whole bunch of times too if Maradona was my sponsor….

          Although I would pretty much guarantee that he is the only coach in this WC who will end a locker room speech with anything along the lines of “don’t forget to have fun.”

          The odds are about 1,000,000 to 1 that Fabio Capello or BB will say anything like that.


        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/06/10 at 7:12 AM

          “Although I would pretty much guarantee that he is the only coach in this WC who will end a locker room speech with anything along the lines of “don’t forget to have fun.” ”

          Now that’s funny!


        • Maradonna has already provided the best quote of the tournament so far, saying that any team that wanted to beat Argentina “would have to put all the meat on the barbeque”!

          You Legend! If we beat Argentina, that would be one hell of a commemorative t-shirt.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 9:29 AM

        Tuesday – if the USA win Group C and Spain win their group, you would not face them until the final. But if either one finishes 2nd, then a SF is possible.


        • For my scenario in the piece I had us coming in second in Group C and Spain winning their group. My point is that if we advance, we have some winnable games – ones that don’t require another Spain miracle.


        • Sometimes Frings just don’t work out as they should.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 10:04 AM

          Fair enough mate. I have said since the draw was made in December, that because of the structure of the bracket, some teams in Groups A-D must be eyeing the SFs as a realistic target.


    • Wait, was that a Gold Cup semifinal? Or are you referring to being cheated out of a trip to the semi?


  3. Posted by FulhamPete on 2010/06/10 at 6:30 AM

    Maybe I’m being picky, but just how many of those ‘sweet moves’ resulted in goals? Everything I could see was that his mates were enjoying the show.

    Not one goal…just dancing. I guess I’m an undercultured soccer fan.


    • Posted by John on 2010/06/10 at 2:32 PM

      That was the dancing highlight. You can go to Internets and get a bunch more highlights of him scoring goals.


  4. Posted by Sinn Fein on 2010/06/10 at 8:10 AM

    I absolutely love your optimism guys, esp as I am by nature pessimistic with my teams. (Burned way too many times.) In truth, at this point I am starting to get worried that we won’t get more than one or two points in the group stage–not based on the team or anything, just my paranoia. I hope all of you are right about the round 16 and of course I am desperate that Tuesday and Matthew are right. What a ride it would be.

    As far as getting to the semi, I wonder what people think about who we match-up well with on the way there.

    I think we match-up with well with the following teams:

    In the round of 16: Ghana, Australia. In the quarterfinals: Mexico, S. Africa, Nigeria. I would add Uruguay, but I don’t know much about them. I know most people would add Greece, but I don’t think we would fare well against their stubborn defensive organization and counter-attacking + set-piece methods.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 8:22 AM

      The USA will progress out of Group C in 2nd place, with 6 points and a negative goal difference.


      • Posted by Sam on 2010/06/10 at 9:37 AM

        I don’t mean to appear “cheeky” but I think you are confusing USA with England.

        You can avoid this mistake in the future by writing “The USA…” followed by good things. And then for a second statement I’m sure you could write “England…” followed by various denigrating terms such as: over-rated, marginally talented, or “crumpets.”

        It’s also okay to say Wayne Rooney looks like the product of sexual congress between a middle-management brewery worker and a gummy bear which had been urinated on.

        You’re welcome.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 10:13 AM

          Sam, I applaud your baseless enthusiasm and blind faith.

          Come 22:30 SAST, on 12th June, I think you’re going to be wearing a massive egg-facial, because the USA will lose to an over-rated and marginally talented England side.


    • Posted by Jmart on 2010/06/10 at 1:45 PM

      I agree w/ Sam. I think it’s very likely the US doesn’t make it out of the group stages due to the game order. I think the only way the US advances is beating England…doable but not likely.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/10 at 2:22 PM

        Highly possible for the States not to get out of the round.

        When the draw came out, everyone suggested that it was good to get England first.

        The reality is a loss to England coupled with a Slovenia win over Algeria and the US is basically playing not to go home in the 2nd game if they don’t beat England.

        The Slovenia game is enormous for that factor–and to pile on. If England get two results in there first two games (against the US and against Algeria), they won’t be playing for much against Slovenia if it comes down to the final game for both.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 2:31 PM

          I agree with this 100%. If the USA draws against Slovenia, and England enter the last group game as group winners, Capello will put out a team that should win, but it won’t be his strongest team at all. People might cry foul play, but you have to look after yourself in tournament football, and it’s not England job to help the USA…


  5. Posted by moosecat on 2010/06/10 at 8:10 AM

    upset wives:

    my wife got a wedding invitation about 6 weeks ago for this Saturday. i have not caved. she is either going alone or with a girlfriend. she is going to hold this over me for a while.

    also her birthday is Sunday. i’m hoping flowers and jewelry can help


    • My wife is anticipating spending the next month as a World Cup widow. I have a buddy that has to go to a wedding on Saturday. Poor bastard. Good for you. DO NOT CAVE. This is the most important game EVER.


      • hahahaha I announced to every single one of my friends that if they bothered getting married during june or july 2010, I would not be attending because I had something more important to do. this was two years ago:)


    • Posted by Tim on 2010/06/10 at 10:11 AM

      I thought the entire counrtry was shutting down to watch the game on Saturday??


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 10:14 AM

        England, yes. America, no.


        • I’ve lived through major tournaments in England, so I have a reference point, and the buzz here in DC at least is as close as we’ve ever come. Everybody knows what’s going down on Saturday. It’s plastered all over ESPN and ABC. Networks that aren’t showing the games are forming Broadcast Teams including Taylor Twellman. They’re showing the game outdoors on big screens in DuPont Circle here in DC.

          People are losing it at City Sports here in DC because they’re sold out of blue jerseys.
          The Jerseys are sold out everywhere and people are actually pretty pissed. I was at a store yesterday that had sold out of USA T-shirts. T-shirts, people. Sports Authority only had XL USA warm-up tops left. They filled the gap in their display with the 3 remaining USA scarfs. Plenty of track-suit tops though since its way too hot for that.

          Here in town, be-suited folks are discussing the game as they wait to cross the street. People want to come over and watch with me because I’m going to go mental and they know it’s going to be fun even if they decide its best to leave before full time. I’m hearing “we should take the kids to a DC United match”, from random people. I don’t remember it being like this before.

          Way back in 2002 we woke up in the dead of night going to work crazy-eyed with sleepless excitement and people were like “what’s the World Cup?” In 2006 I was in Italy, where it was greeted it with a shrug and they just kept shrugging their way to the title.

          Still, George is right – in England they’ll simply cancel work if a match falls during those hours. Anyone else have thoughts?


        • The first sentence should begin “When they’ve managed to qualify…”


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/10 at 12:23 PM

          A nice crafty little dig, Tuesday. Well played.

          Back in 1998 & 2002, I used to work for an American bank in their London office, and my American colleagues just could not get their head around the idea fitting in all of your work responsibilties ‘just to watch a soccer game’.

          In 1998 it really confused them when we’d watch the lunchtime game, have a couple of pints (liquid lunch!), then go back to the office**. Obviously, there is a bigger drinking culture in London, but they seriously just didn’t get it.

          In 2002, my director at the time was a Sceptic, and I “told” him that for the 07:00 BST games, he should lay something on, because people (and not just the English, we had many different nationalities) are going to watch it, and more than likely stroll in a little late. The English MD in the end basically took over, and the conference rooms were boxed off for WC games and breakie was provided. The director missed a golden opportunity to build some good faith…

          Tuesday, as you’re a Chelsea fan, I am guessing that you lived in west-London? Did you have a “local”?

          **Not England matches, of course.


        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/06/10 at 3:02 PM

          I must say i’m pretty impressed out here in SF. They’re opening ATT park (where the SF giants play) for free so that people can watch the big game. I believe that at the civic center they are putting up a screen to show all the games they can, not the just the US (probably not the 4:30am) ones.

          Personally i think that’s amazing and it all comes down to this first game. I think the excitement level would be high regardless but since its England its that much more intense. Only thing that comes close in my opinion (can’t do IMO just yet) is if the US meet Mexico like they did in ’02


    • Posted by Sam on 2010/06/10 at 10:13 AM

      “Honey, I couldn’t possibly go to the wedding or celebrate your birthday. I have to watch sports on TV.”


    • Posted by itally on 2010/06/10 at 10:18 AM

      You guys need to find women who love the sport – they’re out there!


  6. Posted by John on 2010/06/10 at 3:57 PM

    I gotta be honest………I’m starting to lose it!

    WOOHOO! I have a game tonight in which I am going for a bit of revenge on the team that spanked my old team last year (hopefully not Bornstein style), and then…. in the morning……. I’ll get some pre-game at home and pump out every last terrabyte of video from our OC-3 for the Mex/SA game. Productivity will be at an all time low.

    My droid has already been rooted and updated to Froyo to allow flash viewage in the dire circumstances that I need to watch the game on the go. Lets GET IT STARTED!


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