World Cup preview, Group G: USA 8 years ago

World Cup preview, Group G: USA

USA, USA, USA…

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Top Man

It has to be Clint Dempsey, the highest paid player in the MLS and a man who was one of the most potent attacking midfielders in the Premier League a few years back. In the (very controversial) absence of Landon Donovan, the USA players will look to Dempsey for inspiration and with a very impressive strike rate of 37 goals in just over 100 appearances to date, he’s well capable of providing it.

Rising Star

Ever heard of Julian Green before? Can’t say we did either, but the (just turned) 19-year old winger is on the books at Bayern Munich and scored 15 goals in 23 appearances for their second-string outfit in the season just gone.

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Green’s story is an interesting one in that, although born in the USA (where his father is from), he’s lived in Germany (where his mother is from) since he was two years old and was representing German underage teams as recently as November as last year.

He’s since pledged his allegiance to the USA and has made two substitute appearances for the senior side and although known for his pace, trickery and, apparently, his ability to win penalties, he’ll have to do a lot to win over the American soccer public, who are still a bit raw over the selection of an inexperienced rookie over loveable Landon.

Did you know?

If he doesn’t end up playing for Ireland at some stage, the nephew of Kerry legend Maurice Fitzgerald and the son of All-Ireland winning Cork footballer Colm O’Neill (not the one currently playing) could end up playing international football for the stars and stripes.

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Shane O’Neill, a defender for the Colorado Rapids, was born in Cork but has lived in America practically his entire life and is beginning to make his mark with the Rapids in the MLS.

20-years old, he took part in a training camp with the US senior side earlier this year and only a few weeks ago scored his first goal in the MLS... and what a goal it was (see above). Martin O’Neill could do worse than give him a cheeky call-up when Ireland take on Portugal and Costa Rica in the States in the next few days because, to be fair, surely he’d be better than Joe Lapira, right?

Reasons for Irish fans to support them

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We can’t confirm this or anything, but word on the street says that there are a number of pretty significant Irish communities in practically every pocket of the good old U S of A and that’s enough reason for us to belt out The Star Spangled Banner with all the enthusiasm of a young Enrico Palazzo.

If they were a TV series

Flight of the Conchords. The guy in charge is slightly off the wall, but although they’ll be a whole lot of fun to watch, their stay at the top will be all too brief.

Prediction

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On their day, they are not a bad side at all and in the likes of Dempsey, Michael Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley and Geoff Cameron they have a host of experienced campaigners who won’t be fazed by the biggest stage.

Jurgen Klinsmann is yet to convince as a manager, however, and all the signs point to Germany and Portugal progressing with relative ease from this group. Unless they all stay on for holidays afterwards, theirs will be a short stay in Brazil.

Tournament odds with Ladbrokes: 250/1

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