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Question of the day: How far will the U.S get in the World Cup? [Updated]

June 8, 2010 | 10:01 am

Question_400 Four reporters from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

[Updated at 11:05 a.m.:

Grahame L. Jones, Los Angeles Times

With due respect to all 23 players on the U.S. roster, the team features only three who can make a significant impact -- goalkeeper Tim Howard and midfielder/forwards Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. The trio can take the team only so far, which is probably the quarterfinals if the U.S. can spring a second-round upset, when the opponent will probably be Germany.

The U.S. lacks a world-class goal scorer, a world-class playmaker and a world-class defender. Smoke and mirrors and flag-waving can only carry the team so far. Coach Bob Bradley’s side is vulnerable to teams that pressure it or throw speed at it.

Getting out of the first round is not going to be a problem. Getting any further is based more on hope than talent, even though the victory over tournament favorite Spain in 2009 showed that hope is sometimes enough.]

Antonio Fins, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The U.S. team will get as far as Oguchi Onyewu’s knee can carry them. His recovering patellar tendon speaks to the team’s Achilles heel — its porous defense. In tune-up exhibitions, the U.S. team scored seven goals and gave up six.

Still, the U.S. will reach the round of 16. England wins the group, then it’s between the U.S. (ranked 14) and Slovenia (ranked 25) for the ticket out of pool play and into the second round.

Count on the team’s European experience, and its roster of World Cup veterans to help it advance. More than that, count on Landon Donovan & Co. scoring lots of goals. One thing U.S. sports fans will be happy about: There won’t be many 0-0 scores with this U.S. team.

Bob Foltman, Chicago Tribune

Looking at the brackets, it appears the best result for the U.S. would be a trip to the semifinals, which would be the best result ever for a U.S. World Cup team. In order for that to happen, the Americans would need to win Group C, possible if not likely.

That would avoid a match-up with likely Group D winner Germany in the Round of 16 and set up a possible quarterfinal match against either Argentina, Nigeria, France, Uruguay or Mexico. Get through that obstacle and Brazil awaits in the semis.

A more likely scenario is finishing second in Group C behind England and seeing the Germans in the first knockout match. Even with their injury issues, a World Cup knockout win over the Germans would still be a big upset, making Saturday's opener against England even more massive.

A full three points could see the Yanks on a course for history.

[Updated at 12:35 p.m.:

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

At minimum, the U.S. should emerge from Group C and play in the round of 16. Anything less will be a major disappointment.

Assuming favorite England wins the group and the U.S. is second, the U.S team will probably be matched against expected Group D winner Germany. That’s a tough draw and makes a trip to the quarterfinals unlikely.

But if the U.S. can win Group C — which means beating England on Saturday is mandatory — the team has a better chance of advancing to the quarterfinals. If that happens, the U.S. will exceed expectations and grab the attention of the world.

The best guess here: The U.S. finishes second in its group and gets as far as the round of 16.]

Photo: U.S. midfielders Benny Feilhaber, lower left, and Landon Donovan lead the team in a drill during training at Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday. Credit: Elise Amendola / Associated Press

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