First off if you watched this on ESPN in the US I am sorry, if you watched the world feed from ESPN360.com well then you got a treat. I thought the world feed coverage was much more educational and entertaining than what they tried to pass off as coverage on the US feed. If you have access to ESPN360, then watch the world feed replay and you will know what I mean.
So for the US I think group C is a good place to land as any, England is ranked #9 by FIFA after a very strong showing in their qualifying group, the US is ranked #14. Algeria is ranked # 28 after beating Egypt to qualify, while Slovenia jumped 16 spots in the last ranking period to land at number #33 with their victory over Russia to claim their spot in the 32 teams at the World Cup.
So with the US facing England in the opening match of the group, it will likely be a number of teammates facing off on opposite sides. The clear example is Beckham vs. Donovan but there is also Jonathan Spector from West Ham United facing off with Carlton Cole and Matt Upson, and Brad Guzan against his teammates James Milner, Emile Heskey and Robert Green, the starting keeper, from Aston Villa with the US featuring players from Everton, Fullham, Hull City, and others there will be a lot of familiar faces on both sides of the ball in this match.
I am going to go out on a limb based on the fact that the US matches will all be played at elevation and I would not be surprised if the USMNT spends some time this year at Park City getting ready for the World Cup. A small town away from a lot of distractions, good facilities, elevation to spare and a city that the USMNT felt comfortable at just a few months ago.
I am also going to say that unless something really strange happens Robbie Findley should be getting a serious look in the 5-6 matches the US is likely to have before heading to South Africa. I understand the value of a big target player like Conor Casey, but when facing teams that are all ranked higher than Honduras in the FIFA rankings it will likely be speed that is a key difference maker.
The US should be able to make it out of this group but they will need to play well and get a rare win against England as they are 1-9-2 when facing European teams in the World Cup since 1990. Why is a win so important? Because finishing second would like have them facing Germany in the round of 16. Not a task that any team is likely to relish the idea of.
This will be a shot that could boost the overall acceptance of soccer in the United States, after a quality showing in the Confederation Cup this past summer, advancing beyond the group stage would be a great boost and winning the group and facing off against the second place finisher in Group D could be the US's best chance at getting to the quarterfinals since they did so in 2002 after beating Mexico in the round of 16.
OFF MY SOAPBOX
Win 3, Win the Group