2. The World Cup gives players coming off a poor club season the opportunity for instant redemption. The fates of three countries – United States, Mexico, and Belgium – will be heavily influenced by three players that struggled this past season in the Premier League. Jozy Altidore, Chicharito, and Marouane Fellani have a great opportunity to improve their stock, but will the past nine months be too much of a burden on their minds?
3. Speaking of the United States, in the Fall of 2010 was there a better American player than Stuart Holden? At the time he was 25 years old, dominating the midfield for Bolton in the Premier League, and to many, was seen as the present and future star of the National Team. A little over three years later and Holden’s career has been continually sidetracked by injuries, but what could have been? The thought of a US midfield with Holden in it (and Jermaine Jones on the bench) makes me smile.
4. On Monday the United States should play a 4-2-3-1 against Ghana - Howard; Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Johnson; Beckerman, Bradley; Zusi, Dempsey, Bedoya; Altidore. But Klinsmann won’t budge on his endearment for Jones, so plug him in next to Beckerman, slide Bradley up, and push Dempsey out to the flank for Zusi and that will be the lineup.
6. In 2011 I was worried if I was un-American because I enjoyed watching Mexico play so much and thought they were a team that could make the semifinals in Brazil. A few years later the country had to thank Graham Zusi for just squeaking into a playoff with New Zealand for a chance to qualify. Mexico took care of business against the Kiwis, and I, for one, am hoping they find their groove again as they were one of the best nations to watch just a few short years ago.
7. Who will win the World Cup? Pick from Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and Germany. Who will surprise? Pick from Ivory Coast, Belgium, Chile and Bosnia and Hersegovina.
9. The England team Roy Hodgson picked is one of the few I have agreed with in recent memory of a major tournament. He chose players based on their form in England this season and not on their past reputation. The next question is, will he be willing to do the same with his starting lineup? A starting 11 that includes Barkley, Sterling, and Sturridge would provide pace, creativity, and goal scoring - three traits that are often missing for the Three Lions.
10. As my buddy Andrew McConville wrote, "Think about the words...THE WORLD CUP...What moments appear?" With that said, here are two of my favorite moments: The first one I enjoyed in an Irish bar in Liverpool, while the second I was lucky enough to see it live in Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
11. Two non-World Cup thoughts: Arsenal fans please don’t complain about Cesc Febregas joining Chelsea. The Gunners had first option to buy the Spainiard, but your fearless leader, Arsene Wenger, chose not to. Secondly, another English player’s career falters after a move to a big club. Do you emember David Bentley playing for Blackburn with his looks and a right foot often compared to Beckham. After a big move to Tottenham in 2008, his playing time decreased, and six years later at the age of 29 he retired. In recent years Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell, and Stewart Downing were all tipped to be in the England squad in Brazil, but after similar moves to large clubs, they have rarely been heard from since.