The United States has never been one to shine very often in the World Cup. Let’s just get the facts out of the way.  Between the 1950 and 1990 tournaments, the United States didn’t even qualify to play. That’s 40 years!

Besides the inaugural 1930 World Cup when the United States finished in 3rd place (out of only 13 teams that opted to compete), the U.S. has advanced past the knockout round only three times. They’ve only won a single Round 1 game, which was in 2002 when the United States advanced to the quarterfinals only to be defeated by finals-bound Germany. This was the furthest the United States team has ever gotten in the World Cup.

However, soccer’s popularity in United States is only a recent phenomenon and it continues to grow. The MLS was only established in 1988. Since that year, the United States has qualified for every World Cup and they even hosted it in 1994.

Acknowledging that the United States’ best soccer years are yet to come, U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann has constructed a young team with the future in mind. Klinsmann proved the lengths he’s willing to go to develop future talent when he cut superstar Landon Donovan from the final roster (arguably the greatest American soccer player of all-time).

With the absence of Donovan, whose five World Cup goals are unmatched by any other player in American soccer history, these young players will have plenty of slack to pick up as they face off in the toughest knockout group in the tournament.

The United States’ first game will be against Ghana on June 16. The U.S. will play in Group G, which consists of Germany (2nd in the world), Portugal (3rd in the world), and Ghana (who knocked the United States out of the last two World Cups). Needless to say, Group G is a nightmare for the United States team. The U.S. is ranked 14th in the world and their odds of advancing to the first round aren’t great.

However, the United States has accomplished this very miracle before. In 2002, their most successful year, America played the highly-ranked Portugal in the group stage and defeated them 3-2. This was one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history and a stunning blow to Portugal, as they failed to advance to the first round.

While odds are stacked against them once again, you can never count out the United States team.

Player Bios

Tim Howard (GK) from Everton: Tim Howard is the starting goalie for the United States and he’s entering his 3rd World Cup campaign this year. Howard started all of the games in the 2010 campaign (which was one of their most successful of all-time). Howard has been playing in the Premiere League since his 2003 signing with Manchester United. His experience defending against the world’s best scorers is something the U.S. team needs dearly.

Tim Howard. Image Courtesy of Nathan Forget’s Flickr Page

Brad Guzan (GK) from Aston Villa: For nearly a decade, Guzan has been the second-choice goalkeeper behind Tim Howard. A Premiere League keeper himself, Guzan has shined in other qualifier games for the U.S. national team when Howard sat out with injuries. He’s a completely reliable backup should anything happen to Howard. This is Guzan’s second World Cup.

Nick Rimando (GK) from Real Salt Lake: Even though he’s making his first World Cup appearance this year, Rimando is a well-known keeper in the MLS. Since his rookie year in 2000, Rimando has started every game he’s ever played. He has been keeper for Real Salt Lake since 2007.

DaMarcus Beasley (DF) from Puebla: This international star has competed in the top leagues all over the globe. He’s played in professional leagues for the America’s MLS, England’s Premiere League, Germany’s Bundesliga, Netherland’s Eredivisie, Scottish Football League, and now Mexico’s Liga MX where he plays for Puebla. This is Beasley’s 4th World Cup, as he’s the only remaining player from the 2002 campaign (America’s most successful run since 1930). He is also the highest-scoring American player in UEFA Champions League history.

DaMarcus Beasley
Image Courtesy of Hefebreo’s Flickr Page

Matt Besler (DF) from Sporting Kansas City: A member of the U.S. Open Cup champions Sporting Kansas City, Besler is one of the top-ranked defenders on the U.S. national team. Look for him to start in his first World Cup competition.

John Brooks (DF) from Hertha Berlin: This German-born defender plays for Hertha BSC in his hometown of Berlin. A young player at only 21, Brooks made his professional debut as a starter for Hertha Berlin in 2012.

Geoff Cameron (DF) from Stoke City: Cameron was an established star for the MLS when he decided to transfer to Premiere League in 2012 to play for Stoke City. Since joining Stoke City, Cameron has been a consistent starter getting regular playing time in one of the best leagues in the world. Cameron is known for is man-marking, airplay, and ball control in a unique defensive role. This is Cameron’s first World Cup appearance.

Timothy Chandler (DF) from Nurnberg: Another German-born footballer, Chandler has been representing the United States national team since 2011. Chandler’s professional career has been spent entirely in the Bundesliga, where he’s used to competing against the same German players he’ll be seeing in Round 1 of the World Cup.

Omar Gonzalez (DF) from LA Galaxy: A well-known player for the Galaxy, Gonzalez is a crucial piece for the United States defense. At only 25 years old and five years into his professional career, he’s already established himself as one of the best defenders in the MLS. This will be Gonzalez’s first World Cup appearance.

Fabian Johnson (DF) from Hoffenheim: The 26-year old Johnson is a versatile defender who’s known for his versatility and dribbling skills with both feet. He plays each defender position fluently, as he’s learned from the best by spending his entire senior career with German squads. Johnson will be one of the most important players on the field, as he’ll be responsible for leading the defense against the likes of scoring wizards like Mario Gotze and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Fabian Johnson. Image Courtesy of Mt7

DeAndre Yedlin (DF) from Seattle Sounders: Yedlin is one of the future investments that coach Klinsmann has been referring to while putting together this team. With one season of professional football under his belt, Yedlin is a talented player who will likely compete on World Cup teams for years to come.

Kyle Beckerman (MF) from Real Salt Lake: Beckerman has been part of the U.S. national team since 2007. However, at 32 years old, he is making his very first World Cup debut. Beckerman is a 14-year veteran in the MLS and led Real Sal Lake to the title in 2009. He also played the entire 2013 Gold Cup championship game when the United States won.

Alejandro Bedoya (MF) from Nantes: In his five-year senior career, 27 year-old Bedoya has already played in the Swedish Allsvenskan league, Scottish Football League, and now the French Ligue 1. Bedoya is an energetic attacking midfielder who’s making his first World Cup appearance this year.

Michael Bradley (MF) from Toronto FC: Bradley was a crucial part of the 2010 World Cup team as he scored the second goal against Slovenia to tie the game at 2-2: helping the U.S. avoid an early group play exit. At only 26 years old, Bradley has already seen action playing in the MLS, Dutch Eredivisie, German Bundesliga, English Premiere League, and Italian Serie A. Watch for Bradley to start and play an important role in the United States offense during his second World Cup appearance. 

Michael Bradley (Right)
Image Courtesy of Warrenfish

Brad Davis (MF) from Houston Dynamo: Davis is well known in the MLS for his versatility as a role player. Davis has a dangerous left foot and has been averaging over 12 assists per game in the last five years with the Dynamo. This will be Davis’ first appearance in the World Cup.

Brad Davis (MF) from Houston Dynamo: Davis is well known in the MLS for his versatility as a role player. Davis has a dangerous left foot and has been averaging over 12 assists per game in the last five years with the Dynamo. This will be Davis’ first appearance in the World Cup.

Mix Diskerud (MF) from Rosenborg: Diskerud’s talent is currently being overshadowed by the fact he’ll be wearing the No. 10 uniform instead of Landon Donovan. However, he plans to do the number justice in his first World Cup appearance. Diskerud is a star in the Norwegian Tippeligaen as he starts for Rosenborg, the most accomplished club in Norway soccer.

Julian Green (MF) from Bayern Munich: The 19 year-old Green is the youngest player on the United States team. We’ve seen very little of his senior league play, but he’s part of Bayern Munich’s squad (the best team in the German league) and has attracted Klinsmann’s attention for years. However, his reputed speed and talent are yet to be proved on the international scale. He’ll have to deliver in this World Cup to justify his taking part in the squad.

Graham Zusi (MF) from Sporting Kansas City: Zusi has only been playing MLS soccer for five years, but his recent breakout is morphing him into the future face of this team. After his 2011 season where he led Sporting Kansas City to the Eastern Conference Championship, he’s been a call-up for the national team and a 2-time MLS Best XI player. Zusi has shined at every opportunity he’s gotten. Representing his country for the first time in the World Cup, he’s about to get the biggest opportunity of his career.

Graham Zusi
Image Courtesy of Erik Drost

Jermaine Jones (MF) from Besiktas: This 32 year-old veteran was plagued with injury during the last World Cup, so this will be his first campaign representing the United States. Jones is a tenacious player who delivers hard tackles and often times receives cards as a result. Look for Jones to get physical early.

Aron Johannsson (FW) from AZ Alkmaar: This unique Icelandic-American footballer plays in the Dutch Eredivisie league and is not widely known by the US audience. However, his appearance on the roster was no surprise to those familiar with him. Johannsson is a quick player with a very dangerous shot that has already come in handy for the friendly matches. This will be his first World Cup appearance.

Jozy Altidore (FW) from Sunderland: Altidore made his professional debut for the New York Red Bulls at age 16. Since then, the 24 year-old has been living up to his hype in both the MLS and his current Premiere League squad, Sunderland. Altidore is the record-holder for most goals by an American in a European club season, as he scored 24 in the 2012-2013 season. This will be his second World Cup campaign and he’ll be one of the most important players on the field.

Jozy Altidore
Image Courtesy of Jon Candy

Chris Wondolowski (FW) from San Jose Earthquakes: Wondo is a dangerous scorer and one of the top strikers in the MLS. He was the league’s top scorer in 2012 and has been playing in U.S. National Team matches since 2011. This will be Wondo’s first World Cup appearance.

Clint Dempsey (FW) from Seattle Sounders: A proven star for both Premiere League and MLS, Dempsey is entering his third World Cup this year. He’s one of only three American players to ever score goals in multiple World Cup tournaments and he’s a three-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year award. He is also the all-time leading scorer for Fulham. Dempsey is a proven star and fierce competitor who will be needed in this first round of the World Cup.

Clint Dempsey
Image Courtesy of Jarrett Campbell

Now that you’re familiar with the 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team, you’ll know which players to look out for as the United States attempts to do the impossible: Advance against two of the best teams in the world (as well as defeat the rival team who’s sent the U.S. home in the last two tournaments). It’s time to believe, people. It’s time to believe.

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