World Cup 2010: Most important game for USA in Group C is Algeria v Slovenia

All attention on the redcoats but Algeria v Slovenia more meaningful for US qaulification; Photo by Axel

Every American soccer fan I have talked to in the last few days has nothing else on their minds other than the opening matchup in Group C against England. A great deal more than 3 points will be on the line when the English line up against the Yanks in Rustenberg on June 12th. But it’s actually another Group C match the following day between Algeria and Slovenia that will likely have more impact on the American’s qualification hopes.

Getting England in Group C is massively important for the growth of soccer in America. Most American soccer fans follow the Premier League and know a great deal about the England team. Fox Soccer Channel has built its entire network on showing English league games and the common language makes the English game even more accessible for US fans.

Most American soccer fans are also acutely aware of just how much the English love belittling the sport in the United States. There will be rhetorical fireworks flying across the Atlantic in the next six months and the common language again will help the hype-masters at ESPN and Sky Sports build up the match. The World Cup was already going to be a big event in the United States, but now it will dominate for weeks leading up to kickoff. Soccer will be the story and that will further entrench the sport in the United States.

Beating England in Group C, however, is less important for the US team. In no way am I conceding it to the English, but they have to be favorites to win the group. They are a very good team with a very good manager, and while their toughest competition for the group title is the US, our toughest competition for second qualifying spot for the knockout stage is either Algeria or Slovenia. Looking out at the group without knowing the result of the first game, we want the heavily favored English to take care of business against both Algeria and Slovenia because if they do, a US loss in Rustenberg isn’t an obstacle to getting out of the group.

And that’s why the most important game for the US in Group C is the June 13th match between Algeria and Slovenia in Polokwane. If England beats both teams, the only points they can earn come from games against the United States and each other. Consequently, we want to be rooting for the smallest number of points awarded in the game that does not involve the United States—a draw in Algeria v Slovenia puts the United States is the best possible position to get to the second round regardless of the USA v England result.

Should Algeria and Slovenia get just one point each from their match, a win and a draw for the US against Algeria and Slovenia in either combination would be enough to get to the second round. England would have 9 points, the USA would have 4, and Algeria and Slovenia would have 2 and 1. Should one of those teams earn 3 points from that match, then a US win and draw might not be enough as it will matter which team the US beats and it may come down to goal difference or another tiebreaker that is hard to predict.

Nothing will detract from the excitement and significance of the USA v England matchup. But as the hangovers recede on the following day, remember that whatever the outcome, a dull draw between Algeria and Slovenia puts the United States in excellent position to reach the second round.


3 Responses

  1. […] the most difficult game for the US in Group C will be the opener against England. As I said yesterday, points earned in this game are mostly a bonus as the US has a quite manageable path to the second […]

  2. I just found this website a while back when a buddy suggested it to me. I have been an avid reader ever since.

  3. I am an England Fan and I would like to say – You US World Cup Fans should not beat yourselves up, I’ve seen the football / soccer you play and you have a realistic chance against England. I think it could be a very good game. I also think, regardless of the outcome of the USA vs England Game. That it will be both our nations that progress to the knockout stages. No disrespect to Algeria and Slovenia! As long as the USA and England play to their potential both team’s should qualify from Group C.

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