Magazine article Insight on the News

Watch Your Back Line! the U.S. Squad Must Tighten Its Defense If It Wants to Advance in the World Cup. (Sports)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Watch Your Back Line! the U.S. Squad Must Tighten Its Defense If It Wants to Advance in the World Cup. (Sports)

Article excerpt

In 1998, the U.S. World Cup team lost all three games in France and caught an early plane home. In the last four years, however, things have changed dramatically. More American players are honing their skills in overseas leagues, while others have six years of playing in Major League Soccer under their belts.

"The fact that we do have a professional league and that we are able to play on a consistent basis and train on a consistent basis with other professional players has certainly helped this World Cup team," says American defender Eddie Pope.

While it will be tough going for the Americans to advance out of their group in South Korea--which includes the Koreans, Portugal and Poland--it's expected the team will put up a better fight than it did in France. The Americans have two world-class goalies in Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel. Young players such as Landon Donovan and Pablo Mastroeni add depth to the squad. Most of all, the Americans finally may have found a proven goal scorer in Clint Mathis.

But if the U.S. team wants to get past its opening-round group in the World Cup, it will have to tighten up its defense. Great teams have great defenses--just look at France's formidable back line at the 1998 World Cup. But right now, the weakest link is the American back line.

Most worrisome appears to be the right-back role on the team. Both right backs, Tony Sanneh and his replacement Frankie Hejduk--considered the fastest player in the U.S. camp--were beaten on runs during a recent match against Uruguay. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.