For the last match I wished for the impossible, and only received the unlikely. Today one of these teams moves from hopeful to almost certainly through to the knockout stages. Sure the math says that a tie still gives the USA a shot, but Slovenia would be at 4 points and could play for the nil-nil. This would leave the United States counting on other teams, and essentially backing into the knockout rounds, and a likely match-up with Germany.
The USA with a win can make a push for winning the Group.
But I'm not going to be all emotional about this. I don't expect 10Million viewers on a Friday morning. I don't expect hype and pomp and anticipation. I do expect results. Our Americans need this win, badly.
I could break it down with key matchups and the like, but honestly there is someone who knows these two teams, and this game much better than I. So I will lean on Jonathon Wilson.
Here's the Slovene team card. If the formation looks familiar, that's because it is. Just read what Wilson writes.
When comparing two teams that are tactically similar, that both face large incentives to win (only way USA takes the Group, most likely way for Slovenia to qualify) comparing the two teams relative strengths is quite important. The USA is a +1.3 team ranked 14th, while Slovenia is +0.9 and ranked 25th. This would generally indicate a marginal win for the Americans. But let's not get carried away with the stats (USA has a better shot at winning but currently likely to finish 3rd in C). Slovenia is stronger along its backline. The Yanks have a better anchor at Keeper, even if injured a bit and taking pain shots.
It will have to be the American offense that takes over this game.
Dempsey, Donovan and one of the forwards will need to pick the ball up out of a crowded midfield and make magic. Ideally they could play like a Greece or Slovenia after picking up an early lead and play with six behind the ball. That's going to be an issue, and an ideal scenario for both sides. One early goal changes this dynamic into a game of punt and pray for the side that is down.
The question in this match, will truly be about desire, as the tactics and skill level are quite similar, at least according to Wilson.
One game changes everything.
Here is the SBNation preview of the days action.
Jeremiah and I will be at a soccer bar in the Fremont area for the match. Consider this your Gamethread.