The Americans have established themselves as the class of CONCACAF, finally wresting the crown away from Mexico after a scintillating qualifying campaign. Possessing a punishing work rate and some first-rate talent, the U.S. will be a handful for any team at the World Cup.

However, a controversial decision to leave Landon Donovan off the World Cup roster turns the Americans into a big question mark heading into Brazil. 

The Star

With Donovan staying home, Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley’s role as the conductor of the Americans’ attack is more important than ever. Bradley’s pinpoint passing and incisive runs spearhead many U.S. forays into the opposing third, and he’ll be asked to take on an even bigger leadership role now that Donovan is out. 

Road to Rio

After starting the final round of CONCACAF qualifying with a deflating 2-1 loss away in Honduras, the U.S. recovered and qualified with games to spare. The Americans cruised to the top spot of the group with a record of seven wins, one draw, and two losses, which included their first win in Mexico in 75 years. 

Fast Facts

  • World Cup Group: G
  • Nickname: The Stars and Stripes
  • Manager: Jurgen Klinsmann
  • Captain: Clint Dempsey
  • FIFA World Ranking: 13
  • Best World Cup Result: 3rd place, 1930
  • Qualification Method: 1st in CONCACAF Final Group

How they Fared in 2010

To say the United States’ trip to South Africa was dramatic would be an understatement. In their first game, the Americans began to derail England’s title aspirations by holding the Three Lions to a draw, and more than a few pundits thought that result flattered the English side. 

That game was a precursor to the Americans’ final match, where they needed a last-second goal from Donovan to defeat Algeria and propel themselves to the knockout stage. There, they faced Ghana and saw their tournament end in a thrilling 2-1 extra-time loss. 

Fixtures

Group G

  • Monday June 16 – Ghana vs. USA, 6 p.m. ET
  • Sunday June 22 – USA vs. Portugal, 6 p.m. ET
  • Thursday June 26 – USA vs. Germany, Noon ET

Outlook

Never one to shy away from being brave, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann has cast his die with his shocking decision to keep Donovan at home. A leader on the field and off, it remains to be seen how this move will affect American team chemistry in Rio. 

Klinsmann is going all-in on the notion that a young, speedy side is what’s needed to get out of arguably the toughest group in the tournament. Nobody would’ve faulted the Americans for stumbling at the group phase before Klinsmann’s controversial decision, but the U.S. manager has ensured that he’ll either be hailed or vilified depending on his team’s fortunes.