Tag Archive | USA

World Cup Preview: Group G

By Vishnu Nagaraj

For Group A, click here.

For Group B, click here.

For Group C, click here.

For Group D, click here.

For Group E, click here.

For Group F, click here.

This is the group that I and most of the country will have their eyes on. The United States, Germany, Portugal, and Ghana make up this group. One of the favorites to win the entire thing, Germany will most certainly bring their A-game to this year’s World Cup. With a stunning midfield comprised of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze, and Marco Reus, Germany will be one of the best teams to watch. German players have an incredible work-ethic and they very rarely make careless mistakes which is what makes them so hard to defeat. In order for Germany to win this group, they will have to stop the world’s most physically dominant player, Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal squad. Ronaldo’s incredible combination of speed and power make him the most entertaining player in the world. He has a strong supporting cast and he will look to them to play at the same level that he plays at. Portugal are a very strong side that will be sure to challenge Germany at the top of this group. Next we have Ghana. They are side filled with passion and intense pride. They never give up and are always running and hoping to create chances. Ghana will be led by flamboyant midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng. They will look to him to run the game from the midfield. Lastly, we have the United States of America. I would have given the USA a much better chance of causing some damage in the group but with the omission of their all-time leading goal-scorer Landon Donovan, I believe that advancing to the knockout round from this group will be extremely difficult. The USA will look to Clint Dempsey to be the talisman for them and inspire them. Someone to look out for is young winger Julian Green. Not too many people know about him but he has the potential to be a special player for the Americans. This is group that promises to create fireworks and there could be a surprise or two.

It should be a little strange seeing Landon Donovan sitting in an ESPN studio rather than playing on the field. (Via AP)

It should be a little strange seeing Landon Donovan sitting in an ESPN studio rather than playing on the field. (Via AP)

Vishnu Nagaraj is a finance major at Binghamton University. He is a self-taught DJ and sports fanatic. His favorite teams are the Yankees, Brooklyn Nets, San Diego Chargers, and FC Barcelona. You can follow him on twitter at @DJVishMusic.



US Men’s Olympic Hockey Team Announced

By Nick Vespasiano

Last week, the roster for the U.S. Men’s Olympic ice hockey team was announced for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. There are plenty of new faces on this team and some confusing exclusions. Hopefully the new additions as well as the thirteen returning players from 2010 can improve on the silver medal effort in Vancouver.

This year Team USA will feature five forwards making their Olympic debuts. T.J. Oshie, Max Pacioretty, Derek Stepan, James van Riemsdyk, and Blake Wheeler. At 27, Oshie and Wheeler are the oldest of the new crop of forwards. Pacioretty, Stepan, and Wheeler are statistically having the best NHL seasons of the new forwards, each just under a point-per-game. My favorite addition here is T.J. Oshie. His physical brand of hockey and goal scoring make him a complete power forward despite his average size.

Zach Parise hopes to lead Team USA to a gold medal this year (via NHL)

Zach Parise hopes to lead Team USA to a gold medal this year (via NHL)

Three active forwards are missing from 2010: Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Malone, and Bobby Ryan. Langenbrunner is currently a free agent and Malone has struggled this year with only nine points in 27 games. But with 18 goals and 18 assists through 44 games, the most puzzling omission for any position is Bobby Ryan. He was criticized by team management for not playing with the intensity they felt was needed. For whatever the reasons, his offensive skills, and those of Jason Pominville and Kyle Okposo with 18 and 17 goals respectively, were not enough to make the cut. The coaching staff was obviously looking for more well-rounded players and felt sacrificing scorers like these was worth it.

There are six new additions to the defensive core: John Carlson, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Paul Martin. Excluding Martin, all new defensemen are under 25, bringing some youth to the roster. Each of these new players brings a nice balance of offense and defense to the table, a shift away from the more offensive minded defensive group of 2010.

Chris Drury and Brian Rafalski have retired since the last Olympics. Active defensemen missing from the 2010 roster are Tim Gleason, Ryan Whitney, Erik Johnson, and Jack Johnson. Both Johnson’s were on the last Olympic roster, were highly touted first round draft picks, and could be considered top tier defensemen in the NHL. Their exclusion from the roster is an interesting choice. Other defensemen I thought had a chance were Kieth Yandle and Dustin Byfuglien. However, Yandle brings nothing more than other defensemen on the roster and Byfuglien is often knocked for sacrificing his defensive game for his offense.

Jimmy Howard will replace Tim Thomas as the third goalie. Statistically, Howard has no edge over Thomas this season. Both Ben Bishop and Cory Schneider have the edge statistically over Howard and should have at least been considered for the roster spot. All I can think of is Howard’s NHL playoff experience. His 42 playoff games are more than Bishop and Schneider combined. That high-pressure experience seems to be more valuable to the coaching staff than this season’s NHL stats.

Team management knows they made some interesting choices. Team general manager David Poile addressed this when the team was announced: “We did not pick the 25 best players, we picked the 25 players we thought gave us a chance to win the gold medal.” We’ll have to wait and to see. The US plays its first game Feb. 13 against Slovakia.


Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.