1) What an amazing game! Do you think giving up the equalizer that late will have an adverse affect on Team USA or the fact they are still in great shape to advance keep spirits upbeat?
GB) All the postgame interviews said the same thing…that the players are naturally disappointed, but at the end of it, if you’d told them they’d be tied at the top of the table in their group after two games, they’d have taken it in a heartbeat.
Having said that, of course it’s frustrating. Literally seconds away from guaranteeing an advance to the Round of 16, anyone would be frustrated. Every single American watching that game was frustrated. Nevertheless, a spot-perfect service by the best current player in the world…that’s what it took to tie the game, and not only that, but the best player in the world who was seconds away from being eliminated in the World Cup? Michael Jordan used to have those moments, Tom Brady has had those moments…THAT’S what tied that game.
I think this team has found their game, and a huge quantity of confidence.
BP) Talk about having your heart ripped out. Still it's not a disaster. This seems like a pretty tough bunch and I'm not too concerned about their psyches going into the Germany match. If anything they'll be feeling condident at having played so well against a top 5 side.
2) What has impressed you about Team USA heading into the game with Germany and who needs to step up to win this game?
GB) Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard have been incredible. Dempsey…I’m not sure I’ve got enough superlatives in my thesaurus to describe his game. He’s been at a whole different level of leadership so far. HE played at forward last match because of the injury to Jozy Altidore, and was clearly dangerous, scoring that goal off his stomach…huge. Howard lost his footing on that first goal, but some of his saves in that game were tournament-saving. He had no chance whatsoever on the last one.
Bradley has been strong at points, but I’d like to see a bit more consistency from him. Who knows what happens if he makes a better touch on the open-except-for-the-defender goal?
BP) I was impressed by quite a lot Sunday. They gave up a stupid goal early, but stuck by their game plan, got enough possession, and ran Portugal ragged. Other than the final play Renaldo was a non factor. Jermaine Jones was a beast again. This time, without Altadore, Klinsmann decided to let Jones freelance and the U.S. was rewarded with a world class goal.
As for stepping up... Bradley. He has had a lousy World Cup to be quite honest. He has to be more reliable on the ball. It's like Tom Brady throwing more picks than touchdowns. He's the quarterback.
3) Germany is always tough. What's up with that? Is it a system, players, coaching? What is their secret?
GB) Yes. It’s all of that. It’s also a fantastic work ethic, and let’s face it…success breeds success. When your team is the best in the world, and you’re a five year old who’s just watched, what do you do? You grab your soccer ball and run outside after the game, and pretend to be Ballack or Klinsmann or whoever just scored That Goal.
Back to a point I was making the other day…Germany doesn’t have baseball or (pointy) football…they have hockey, but the world’s football is incredibly popular there, and gets most of their best athletes. Four current US players (Jermaine Jones, John Brooks, Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler) were born in Germany to a US serviceman father and a German mother. Julian Green had similar parents, but was born in the US, moving back to Germany with his mother and growing up there.
BP) Not to be flip, but Germany has been doing this a long time. They know how to develop talent. Their league is one of the tops on the planet. That said I believe they can be beaten. They're a bit suspect in the back. Overall they've been criticized in the past for being slow. We need to run at them. I expect Klinsmann to do that. He isn't going to bunker in for a 0-0 draw.
4) Glancing around the other brackets, some favorites have been sent packing and some sleeper teams have emerged, what teams have you found yourselves impressed with so far?
GB) Costa Rica for sure…who expected that? I will, of course, point out again that our very own Columbus Crew have two defenders playing for Costa Rica, including starting central defender Giancarlo Gonzalez. Mexico’s been much better than I expected, because the barely made the tournament. CONCACAF, the FIFA region the US plays in, has four teams in the World Cup…Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Two have already locked up a spot in the Round of 16, and the USMNT has a great chance to do the same.
The Netherlands blew up with a fantastic first win, then had a bit more trouble with Australia than they should have…beat Spain 5-1 then Australia 3-2? They’d better be back in form when they play Mexico, because El Tri has found their stride.
From here on out, I’ll be pulling for the remaining CONCACAF teams until they run into the US,…it’s the same way you want B1G teams to do well in their bowl games/tournaments/whatever.
BP) I am very impressed with Mexico. They barely qualified and looked terrible throughout the process in doing so. They're playing for one and other now. Miguel Herrera has somehow gotten through to these guys. He's certainly the most fun coach to watch. I guess he has them playing loose. That said Mexico is about to be erased by a team emerging as a possible favorite. The Dutch have been the class of 2014 thus far.
Costa Rica is the stunner! They won a group that included Italy and England, and neither of those European giants get through? That's bizarre! As the group winner Costa Rica draws a middling Greece side and I like the Central American nation to move on.
This has been a strange World Cup. If the U.S. takes care of business that'll make 3 out of 4 teams from our CONCACAF qualifying group to get out of group stage. That's the story here.
5) Where are you watching the USA v Germany game this Thursday at noon?
GB) Still talking to my sons about that. We’ve watched the first two at home, but we’re talking about heading out to the Crew viewing party at Fado. I’m curious to see the atmosphere in person, and see how it compares the 2002 viewing parties hosted at the stadium. Those parties were the biggest in the US, and drew futbol fans from as far away as Florida who had seen footage on TV, and felt like it was something they had to be part of.
Having said that, I’m still a pretty sports-related superstitious guy having my sports-shooting career in hockey, and we’ve watched everything at home so far, so I’m not sure if I can change what’s worked so far…
BP) I'm trying to keep track while I'm on the air. The TV is over the station bar so I may need to bring a telescope.
Prediction: USA 1 Germany 1.