The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the U.S. men's national team, asking some well-known observers of soccer to opine about the team’s chances of doing well at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
According to Ian Darke, the veteran British commentator who calls games for the U.S. on ESPN, the Concacaf region is hardly the walk in the park that most Europeans believe it to be, but the fact that the U.S. has done well in World Cup qualifying shouldn’t lead fans to believe that the World Cup is coming to the States anytime soon. "Are the U.S. a top side among the elite in the world? No they are not," Darke says. "But this World Cup will be about whether the U.S. can look like they are significantly bridging the gap."
Warren Barton, a former England international and British commentator for Fox Sports, said that Europe noticed a cultural change when U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann dropped Landon Donovan after he decided to go on his sabbatical. "There's no divine right for the shirt anymore," Barton said. "That's a very European mentality."
Former England international Gary Mabutt adds: "Some of the teams in Concacaf haven't reached the higher standards, but these one-off games in soccer can be very tough." As for how far the USA can go next summer, Mabutt says, "Usually, what group you get drawn into decides whether you go through."