The Game Is About Glory
A wise man once told the world, “The game is about glory”. The “game” this man was talking about was soccer and actually, the full contextual quote was even better:
“The game is about glory. It’s about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”
I mention this quote in it’s entirety because it is 100% true and it is very applicable to the United States Men’s National Team at this juncture. The USMNT got through their Hexagonal World Cup qualifications in first place by a large margin and promptly found themselves drawn into the “Group of Death with:
1. Arguably the best team in the world in Germany
2. The team with the best soccer player in the world in Portugal
3. And the team that spent the last 2 World Cup’s eliminating the USMNT in Ghana.
No one thought the USMNT had a chance in getting out of the group stage. Somehow, someway, the USMNT have scraped 4 points from their first two matches and essentially need 1 point from their last match to secure qualification into the knockout stage.
Here is where the quote above really comes into play. From the end of the last match against Portugal, many people have openly rooted for the USMNT to aim for a draw against Germany. Some have even stated that both sides should have an unspoken agreement to play to a draw.
That is anathema to the spirit of the game. I strongly reject that stale line of thinking. “The game is about glory” and I am pretty sure Klinsmann is preparing his charges to win the game outright and take all 3 points. The USMNT cannot afford to head into this game meekly. This is a game where the USMNT need to show the rest of the teams in the knockout round that USMNT will not shy away from any team, no matter how favored! Should the USMNT be lucky to advance, they would most likely play Belgium (a team that is also widely regarded as an elite team). There are no easy games in this World Cup! Why play for a draw against Germany when every game after will be just as hard and the stakes increasingly harder?!
Go for the win, do it in style, beat the other team down and move on. This is what I firmly believe is in store for the USMNT today. The team, down to a man, will not be interested in a 1 point pity draw. Thank you, but no thank you! The goal is to win Group G, even though the winner of Group G has one less day off than the second place finisher.
With that said, here’s how I would pick the USMNT XI for the match against Germany.
I’ll leave the actual formation and tactical nous to the professionals (whether the above is a 4-2-1-2-1 or a 4-2-3-1, I don’t have a preference for). But what I do know is that I like Zusi in this game to ping balls across the pitch. I liked the bit I’ve seen of Yedlin as a wingback, I think he provides better defensive cover, provides more two-way tracking than Bedoya and I think he would help pin Germany back a bit with how fast he can get up and down the pitch. Finally, I would sit Beasley out of this game and start Chandler. If Besler has a knock too, then switch him with John Anthony Brooks.
Danny Blanchflower is the legendary figure who provided the quote above. I think #USMNT will do Danny proud with how they go out today. “The game is about glory” and what better glory so far than snatching Group G from the Germans!