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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Too much hype: USA vs Slovenia

It may not be as hyped-up as the US-England match, but tomorrow's contest against Slovenia is generating plenty of hype in the soccer world and the US media. Most alarming, perhaps, is the overconfidence shown by soccer outlets inside the US. It is claimed that the national team is favored to win the match and have too much firepower to be denied. The response to that statement may, unfortunately, be no.

Tying the match against England was a great achievement given the European squad's star power, history and role as a contender for the title. The match was about defending against some of the best in the world. The US did it with discipline after the first goal and with an injured goalkeeper. Making a claim that they are the favorites for the Slovenia contest based on the first game is stretching it a bit too much. Slovenia is a highly-defensive squad. They allowed the fewest goals than any other team in Europe during qualifying and eliminated Andrei Arshavin's Russia (semifinalists at Euro 2008).

We would all rather see a comprehensive win for the United States. A tie is a more likely outcome with the Algeria match being more accessible. But, as Landon Donovan said: "if we can't beat Slovenia then we don't belong in the next round." Wise words indeed. Have fun tomorrow. Enjoy the match and the World Cup stage. Being considered the favorites may seem like a burden, but the very fact that they are and that US fans outnumber Slovenians in the stadium is the real triumph for team USA.

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