I sort of consider myself the average "American" soccer fan. I enjoy the game but typically just drink a beer and scream real loud when a ball gets close to the net. With the 2014 World Cup almost set to pop, I thought the time was ripe to ask local soccer experts - CD1025 DJ Brian Phillips and renowned Photographer/Musician Greg Bartram - some of my dumb-ass soccer questions to help get up to speed on what I need to know.- Colin G Click here for questions 1-5
6)What players do I need to keep on eye on that can make a big difference helping Team USA advance?
BP) Up until Saturday's friendly with Nigeria (also a World Cup bound side) I was very concerned with our defense. It seems Klinsman has arrived at shape he's pleased with however and the USA certainly played a solid game in the back. For all of this to work Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman (he of the wicked dreds) will have to live just to the top of our defensive four clogging up passing lanes and generally lending a stout hand in the middle. His success would allow fellow midfielder Michael Bradley to focus on creating offensively.
Striker Jozy Altidore is another important piece. Up until Saturday's two goal outburst he hadn't scored in any match, for club OR country, in 2014. Altidore has be in top form, ready to turn and fire on goal. Sometimes he'll need to play with his back to the net, holding up the ball with strength and finding Clint Dempsey in space. The more he can be a force, the more room for Dempsey to run free. Defenders have to be so worried about his strength and athletisism they forget every one else.
Another couple of players I'll be watching are outside defenders DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson. Klinsman would like to push both of those guys up into the attack. Can they do that and get back and cover? Will others track back quickly to prevent counter attacks? It's a risky, but exciting tactic. Look to see how much we're able to employ them offensively.
GB) Brian’s got that pretty well covered, but it’s a different squad than we’re used to seeing. The two guys who scored for the US here in the last incarnation of the traditional US 2-0 win over Mexico, Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan, won’t be there, so guys who aren’t known for their scoring touch have to find it.
Also, transition, transition, transition…the midfielders have GOT to be strong supporting both up top and in the back.
7) The World Cup is a really big deal. Can you recommend a good spot to go watch the games to catch the excitement? With kids? Without?
BP) Thanks to the Crew Columbus has over the past couple of decades turned into a soccer town. There are no shortage of watering holes featuring the matches. Fourth Street Bar and Grill comes to mind. Also I'll be hosting an event with CD1025 at The Elevator Brewing Tap Room at 171 N. Fourth for the Portugal game. We'll be watching just feet from the Elevator's brewing operation on the big screen with a $2 pint special and food trucks (hint hint hint).
As for watching with your kids? I'd probably watch with them at home. People can get a bit nuts. Maybe invite a few neighborhood kids over.
GB) Sounds like the Elevator’s gonna be a good one. Also, Fado at Easton was just rated as the best place in Ohio to watch World Cup matches, and the Columbus Crew are partnering with them for the tournament. Anyplace you go, it’ll be good viewing.
Want to share it with the kids? I’d call up the members of your son or daughter’s footie side (soccer team), invite players and parents, and host your own with a bring-a-dish-with-ya kinda theme. That way, you don’t have to trouble yourself with the more heavily-partying types.
8) What other teams / players are you most looking forward to watching in addition to USA?
BP) A lot of the usual suspects. Messi (Argentina) Srna ( Croatia) Suarez... though he could be hampered by recent knee surgery... (Uruguay) Balotelli (Italy) Klose (Germany).... For my money the host nation's Neymar is the most exciting player.
I'll be very interested in Mexico's fortunes. They barely made the field of 32 and had a terrible qualifying. How many coaches did they go through the past couple of years? I've lost count. They have nice players, but they just haven't figured out how to play together. I always watch England. It's hard to pick against Brazil at home. Cameroon is usually entertaining. Suffice to say a dark horse will emerge from nowhere and at least one superstar will be born in the next month.
GB) There’s also this fella from Portugal that the US will get a close-up view of named Christian Ronaldo…
France, Germany…I’ve always liked Germany’s game, but I’m pretty interested to see how much Home Country Advantage comes into play.
9) Team USA advances to the next round if…
BP) They have to beat Ghana in the opener. Without that win nothing else is possible. After that they probably have to figure out how to draw with either Germany or Portugal. Good luck!
GB) Beat the team they should, and at least one team who’s ranked higher. Gotta be riding the wave on the way into the second match, and they’ve GOT to replace Donovan’s experience and scoring.
10)Team USA is in big trouble if..
BP) They lose to Ghana. They backslide into some of the sloppy defending we've seen prior. Altidore has to lead the side in goals.
GB) They are facing Germany and Portugal without a win. Definitely going to need Vitamin Mo(mentum).