Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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18 Responses

  1. Dammit, you beat my post (now deleted) by five minutes. But yeah, we’re pretty screwed. Assuming the opening game loss to Ghana, the best hope to advance is by beating Portugal (tough, but very doable, and definitely not unprecedented – see 2002), and then hoping that Germany withers in the heat but otherwise has the group wrapped up in the third game, salvaging at least a draw out of that game.

    The good news is that there’s no shortage of storylines – you’ve got Fishin’ Ghana again, then you’ve got a rematch of one of the most significant victories in US Soccer history, and then you finish with the awkwardness of Klinsi facing his native country, likely with a spot in the second round at stake for the US.Report

    • Also, I’m more than a little bitter about the fact that Mexico needed a US-engineered miracle to make the World Cup at all, yet they somehow clearly wound up being the second best team in their group – had the US drawn Croatia and Cameroon, I’d have been opening a bottle of champagne tonight. I think we ought to have the right to swap places with Mexico. After what happened in October, they owe us that much.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I was trying to put on a braver face than “yeah, we’re pretty screwed,” @mark-thompson . Although I cannot dispute the accuracy of that assessment.Report

      • Then again, it’s not an impossible task, either. We’ve got a history of playing Germany pretty tough – even though we lost to them in the quarters in 2002, we actually outplayed them for most of that game, and that was with a team that was nowhere near as good as what we have now; then of course we beat Germany’s reserves earlier this year, and pretty handily at that. I think if we can beat Portugal in the jungle in the second game, which would mean that Germany would need only a point from the last game to clinch the group (and will have effectively clinched a second round spot even with a loss to us), then there’s a decent chance we can get a result against Germany. If we beat Portugal and draw Germany, then we would have a decent chance to sneak in even if we lose by a goal to Ghana.Report

  2. Avatar Philip H says:

    I disagree with your group B predictions – I don’t think Chile and top the Netherlands. I also don’t see Portugal winning out. USA Ghana is a toss up – especially given recent history as you remind us – but I don’t know that Ghana has what it takes to last round robin in that grouping.Report

  3. Avatar Fish says:

    Beat Ghana, draw with Portugal, and try not to give up more than one against Germany and maybe we slip through on goal differential? This American team is well-coached and talented. Maybe they can steal one from Portugal and secure six points and a seat in the 16.Report

    • I think Portugal is reasonably beatable, actually, and we may match up pretty well with them, outside of a certain obvious individual (who has a shockingly underwhelming track record at the WC). Keep in mind that this is a team that drew twice with Israel in qualifying. Also keep in mind that we pretty convincingly beat Portugal’s “Golden Generation” in 2002 despite having a much weaker team than we’ve got now.Report

  4. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    I think the U.S. isn’t as doomed as people think. Bracketing for a second the complete lack of a coherent team, more powerhouses means more potential upset.

    The U.S. can beat Ghana, which is important. Then, as long as they beat either Germany, or Portugal they have a chance.

    Ghana could also beat either Portugal or Germany.

    And the U.S. could tie both games.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    So, the way I look at this is that this is clearly a time when the USMNT should be seeking out challenges. Klinsmann has been doing that, and this draw certainly continues the trend. I would be disappointed if the USA didn’t make it out of group play, but honestly I’m not sure I wouldn’t be more disappointed if they made it out of an easier group and fizzled early in the knockout stage like in 2010. And realistically, the Men In Blazers guys aside, who really has the U.S. going terribly deep into the knockout stage anyway? If they make it out of this group it will be a real accomplishment. The world won’t really care if we make it out or not, but they’ll notice if we beat Portugal or Germany to do it.

    Here’s what I have them doing in group play: beat Ghana, draw Portugal, lose to Germany. (If the Portugal & Germany matches were reversed in order, I’d have them drawing and losing on the same dates – I think conditions will mean that fatigue will be a deciding factor in a lot of these matches. In that sense, I think this order is relatively benign, as gaining that middle-date draw will be more doable against Portugal than Germany. But watch out: they’ll be vengeance-fueled in that match just like we will be against Ghana.)

    Can Ghana get a result from Portugal? That game will be the key that decides whether a realistically positive showing from the U.S. will be enough to get them through. I’m excited.

    Last thing I’d say: don’t rule out a surprise on the upside with two victories that give the U.S. a share of the group win. In the right frame of mind and cast of body, this team can certainly beat both Ghana and Portugal.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I’m becoming more convinced that we can go directly against Portugal and get a win. Tough game, but possible. Maybe we can even draw Germany.

      But I really really want to get that World Cup win against Ghana. One of the best African teams anyway, and vindication for them being our spoilers in the past. Call it a good-natured grudge.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Totally agree. We can, we just have to come out and play to the very top of our ability. I think the conditions are going to make that difficult, so I’m picking the combo platter of win, lose, and draw. But as I say, I view the two-win possibility as very viable. (I do still think that getting a result against famously well-conditioned Germany in the last game match of the round, with the worst travel schedule in the tournament, is going to be a tall order. But hey, I’m not ruling anything out.)

        Like you, I’m not as dour as a lot of people I’ve seen assessing their chances, the only problem with that being that most of those dour folks know a hell of a lot more about international soccer than I do.Report

  6. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    Sorry, I’m cheering for Ghana. Except sometimes when they’re going up against Canada (which is rare, as we specialize in completely different sports) I cheer for the third world over the first world in international competitions. They’re at a massive funding disadvantage, so it makes their victories all the more impressive.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      I’d probably cheer for Ghana against Canada too, so I think many of us may be on the same page on this. The United States, by the way, also does specialise in sports other than soccer. There really should be a North American Football Summit along the lines of the World Baseball Classic.Report