The United States’ Path to Winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup

In January I predicted that the United States would fulfill its 1998 pledge to ensure that the United States men’s national team would become a legitimate threat to win the FIFA World Cup by 2010.  Now that the time has come to put up, I am boldly, and perhaps irrationally, predicting the US will not only challenge f0r the World Cup, but will actually WIN the 2010 FIFA World Cup!

Granted, this pick is somewhat biased due to the many Chicago Fire connections with the US team and is made through red, white and blue goggles, but the mere fact that I find myself able to see a path to the top for the good ol’ U.S. of A. represents a sea change from the first US World Cup appearance of my lifetime in 1990.

Peter Wilt predicts the United States will win the World Cup

Over the last 20 years, the “Dream” of advancing out of the group stage has morphed first to “Hope” then to “Wish” and now to ”Expectation”.  I recall watching the three and done at Italia ’90 and just praying that we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves and my Milwaukee Wave star Jimmy Banks wouldn’t get torched by Italy.  In 1994, as the host nation, I again hoped we wouldn’t be embarrassed and wished that we could surprise the world by advancing out of group play, which we did.  As part of MLS in 1998, my confidence in a solid performance by the Americans was unrewarded by Steve Sampson’s crew.  Four years later, for the first time, I remember having a realistic chance of advancing out of group play, which thanks to South Korea’s final group play win over Portugal, we did and then went on to surprise Mexico dos a cero before falling to Germany and a missed handball call.

In 2006, we were in a tough group, which muted expectations.  Nevertheless, our boys didn’t play up to the ever increasing expectations, resulting in a call for change at the top — which was granted.  Now we come to 2010, the magical year predicated by the word “Project” a dozen years ago.  “Expectation” of advancing has now replaced “hope”.  Some even think that advancing and then losing in the second round won’t be deemed “success”.  It’s in that context that I made my bold prediction that Carlos Bocanegra and his teammates will be hoisting the sporting world’s most prestigious trophy in 32 days.

Last week, just prior to the kickoff of the United States’ final tune up versus Australia, I grabbed my official “The Highbury Pub World Cup 2010 Bracket” form and hurriedly began making predictions.  It involved making 31 decisions.  The first 27 decisions were mainly made with my head.  The last four were admittedly influenced by my heart.  When I put the marker down, there was one team circled in the center of the page as my predicted winner – the United States of America.  Perhaps equally surprising was the other team in the center of the page, the one that wasn’t circled indicating the runner-up - Italy.  It just so happens that I am half Italian (the Vilona familyis Calabrese) and all American.

"It's only a dream..."

"It's only a dream..."

Ten of the 16 teams I selected to escape the group stage were pretty obvious.  The other six were educated guesses, gut feelings and random long shots.  Once I slotted teams into the second round spots, the knock out round picks came pretty easily.  If by some random chance, these matchups come to fruition, there will be some amazing round of 16 and quarterfinal games including a rematch of the World Wars (Germany vs. England) and a battle for Iberian supremacy (Spain vs. Portugal) in the round of 16 and Mexico vs. USA, Holland vs. Brazil, Argentina vs. Germany and Italy vs. Spain in the quarters!  Those are all dream matchups…meaning, I must’ve been dreaming when I made these picks.

Groups F and G were the only two groups in which my picks followed the odds.  In each of the other groups I have higher FIFA ranked teams finishing below their lower ranked opponents who I’m picking to advance to the second round:

A much younger Peter Wilt shows his blind patriotism goes back decades!

A much younger Peter Wilt shows his blind patriotism goes back decades!

Group A: Mexico (17) finishing above France (9) and Uruguay (16)

Group B: South Korea (47) advancing over Nigeria (21) and Greece (13)

Group C:  USA (14) finishing above England (8)

Group D:  Ghana (32) advancing over Serbia (15)

Group E:  Denmark (36) advancing over Cameroon (19)

Group H:  Australia (20) and Switzerland (24) advancing over Chile (18)

The upsets take a break with all my round of 16 picks going to form.  Then in the quarterfinals I’m back on the upset trail with Holland (4) over Brazil (1) and Italy (5) over Spain (2).  One of my semifinal picks goes to form, while the US over Holland pick may require a dose of faith and a Dutch epidemic of strained hamstrings.

Then, once the US gets to the final against Italy….anything can – and will – happen.  My predicted path for Bob’s Boys winning the Cup requires getting results against three higher ranked nations: England, Holland and Italy.  IMHO, the US is underrated and England is overrated and a draw could be enough to position the US atop Group C.  Victories over an Arjen Robben hobbled Holland and aging Italy would certainly be upsets, but I believe the chemistry of the US team along with its mix of emerging young talent, veteran leadership and underdog status will surprise teams as the US makes its way to Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg on July 11.  Final score of the final match?  USA 2, Italy 1.

A boy can dream, no?


25 thoughts on “The United States’ Path to Winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup

  1. Peter Wilt Post author

    Duane, it would be an even bigger upset if the US wins and i DON’T win the pool!

  2. evan

    that’s a pretty fantastical fantasy bracket, but i think the USA is more likely to make it to the final than Italy this time around…

  3. patrickhattrick

    If the USA wins the World Cup, I’m going to run around waving an American flag in my suburb of Chicago. Probably up Main Street.

  4. Peter Wilt Post author

    Evan, Italy getting by Spain was certainly a “heart” pick for me, but as I see it, they only need to get one upset to finish where i have them, where the US has to get three upsets.

    Patrick, you could replicate Briana Scurry’s 1996 Olympic promise in Athens, Georgia! http://tinyurl.com/2f8llbm
    :)

  5. riccardo

    final match is inghilterra italia

    have a good day with you good work!Keep it up!

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  7. Kevin Smith

    Not going to happen. No way, not a chance. For one, I think you’re drastically underestimating Slovenia. Two, you’re really far fetched in your opinions of the US team. They’ll be lucky to draw England, but they won’t top the group. If the groups do finish this way, facing Ghana could be interesting. I don’t know much about Ghana, however, so I cannot comment.
    Assuming they do win, beating Mexico is certainly possible, but I don’t think it will happen. Let’s not forget that they went 1-1 in WC qualifying, winning while Mexico was struggling under Sven, in February, in Columbus. Columbus may not be as cold as, say, Edmonton in February, but still.
    Since Aguirre took over Mexico, they beat the US 2-1 at home in August, just a couple weeks after getting crushed 5-0 in the Gold Cup final.

    Then you’re onto the Netherlands, and this is where your US glasses really blind you. Unless the Dutch lose 9 of their 11 starters, I would expect them to win 4 out of every 5 games against the US. They’re in a different level.

    Italy, this year, is not in a different level. However, I doubt Italy will beat Denmark, Spain or Germany. They’re too old. It’s the same team from 4 years ago, and they were old then.

  8. Peter Wilt Post author

    Kevin, you make some fair points, but the fact that you say the Dutch “win 4 out of every 5 games against the US” reinforces my point that the US CAN win!! :)

    The US doesn’t need to beat England to win the group…though it sure would help. The Gold Cup final was against a US B team. Playing them on neutral turf is probably pretty close to 50/50.

    Regards,

    Homer Wilt

  9. Kevin Smith

    well, by that token we could potentially see a New Zealand – North Korea final. Obviously longer odds than the US winning, but it *could* happen.

    But anyways, I still feel that you’re under-estimating Slovenia. They will be a tough opponent for the US, and it’ll make for an interesting game – especially from a neutral stand point.

  10. Peter Wilt Post author

    i don’t know that i’m under-estimating Slovenia. I agree they’ll be a tough opponent…harder than Algeria for sure…i just don’t think they’ll finish ahead of England or the US. Are you saying you think they will? i do think i’m probably under estimating Cameroon and Serbia…if i had it to do over again, i’d prolly replace Denmark and Ghana with those two.

  11. zoltan malev

    if usa wins the world cup i will run around vancouver with an american flag. naked.

  12. Kevin Smith

    I do think that Slovenia will finish ahead of the US, behind England. If the US loses against England (which I feel they will. The US is improving, but they’re still not going to beat England), they will have to beat Slovenia in game 2. A tie wouldn’t be enough, because England will have qualified after 2 games, so they will take it easy in game 3 vs Slovenia. Thus Slovenia would have an easy chance at 2nd, all they’d need is a tie in game 3.

    Let’s not forget how Slovenia qualified for the world cup. They allowed 4 goals in 10 games against Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Poland, and, well, San Marino. 6 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses. All except San Marino have skilled teams. Poland and the Czechs took part in Euro 08, while the Slovaks (who Slovenia beat twice) were the other qualifier for this World Cup.
    Then they went into the playoffs and knocked off Russia. When everyone made their picks for the Euro playoffs, there were 3 uncertain games and 1 Russian victory. They allowed 2 goals at home, but won 1-0 in Russia.

    Slovenia will be in tough to finish 2nd, but so will the US. And my pick is on the east europeans.

  13. Kevin Smith

    Oh, my mistake, the Russians won 2-1 in Moscow, then the Slovenians won 1-0 in Maribor. I thought they played in Slovenia first.

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  17. soccergirl

    What a prediction in 1998, the U.S now face Guana on Saturday 26th after that they can play against Uruguay or Korea Rep, and then they will be through to the semi’s. (Netherlands, Slovakia, Brazil, Spain, Chile, Switzerland Portugal or Hondorus). You have Donovan, probably the best number 10 in this world cup, so maybe 2010 could be your year.