In its first few games, the United States proved to be a worthy world competitor against all odds — or most odds, anyway. We'll call the England game a lucky break (thanks, Robert Green). It was a lucky break well deserved after being screwed by terrible officiating in our last two matches, though. A disallowed goal against Slovenia kept the U.S. from a win instead of a draw, and another disallowed goal in its match against Algeria almost kept the Yanks from a win. But in the 91st minute, during stoppage time added on to the end of the game, America's hero Landon Donovan swept in to save the red-white-and-blue.
At that moment the U.S. secured a first place spot out of Group C, Donovan cried triumphant tears, and the crowd at Dan McGuinness here in Nashville erupted into a "U-S-A" chant followed by a chorus of, "When the Yanks go marching in!" England defeated Slovenia on Wednesday to take the second-place spot out of the group, a less desired place to be as they go on to play Germany in the next round.
The U.S. goes on to play Ghana today in round two, and a win will send the Yanks into the quarterfinals against the winner of a matchup between Uruguay and South Korea. All three are very beatable teams for the U.S., and being on this side of the tournament bracket is much more favorable than where England sits. Whoever wins the match between England and Germany will see the winner of Argentina v. Mexico in the quarterfinal.
So far the U.S. has come from behind in all but one match. Sure, they've proved to be capable of a comeback, but we can only get that lucky for so long. Heading into the knockout rounds, we've got to come out and score early and avoid going into penalty kicks to decide the winner. And let us hope that no more goals are robbed by incompetent referees.
The Yanks are in a great place to shock the world and make it all the way to the World Cup semifinal if they can continue to play the way they have been: disciplined, determined to overcome adversity, and of course having a little bit of good luck on their side.
"The Yanks go marching in" today at 1:30 p.m. CST on ABC.