Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/11/2014 8:47 PM

Things to watch for in World Cup

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • In this June 4 photo, Joao Paulo, 16, plays ball in a street decorated for the upcoming World Cup in the Ceilandia suburb of Brasilia, Brazil. The international soccer tournament is set to begin next week.

      In this June 4 photo, Joao Paulo, 16, plays ball in a street decorated for the upcoming World Cup in the Ceilandia suburb of Brasilia, Brazil. The international soccer tournament is set to begin next week.
    Associated Press

  • Children kick around a soccer ball Wednesday outside the Independencia Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The 2014 World Cup is set to begin Thursday, with Brazil and Croatia competing in the opening match in Sao Paulo.

      Children kick around a soccer ball Wednesday outside the Independencia Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The 2014 World Cup is set to begin Thursday, with Brazil and Croatia competing in the opening match in Sao Paulo.
    Associated Press

  • Argentina's Lionel Messi heads the ball, left, next to Argentina's Ezequiel Lavezzi, right, during a training session Wednesday at Independencia Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Argentina will play in group F of the Brazil 2014 soccer World Cup.

      Argentina's Lionel Messi heads the ball, left, next to Argentina's Ezequiel Lavezzi, right, during a training session Wednesday at Independencia Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Argentina will play in group F of the Brazil 2014 soccer World Cup.
    Associated Press

  • England national soccer team player Wayne Rooney heads a ball during a training session Wednesday at the Urca military base in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

      England national soccer team player Wayne Rooney heads a ball during a training session Wednesday at the Urca military base in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
    Associated Press

  • Brazil's Neymar heads the ball during an official training session Wednesday the day before the group A World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Croatia in the Itaquerao Stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

      Brazil's Neymar heads the ball during an official training session Wednesday the day before the group A World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Croatia in the Itaquerao Stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
    Associated Press

  • Brazil's Neymar plays with the ball during an official training session Wednesday the day before the group A World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Croatia in the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

      Brazil's Neymar plays with the ball during an official training session Wednesday the day before the group A World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Croatia in the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
    Associated Press

 
 

Every so often there comes along a sporting event so big it engulfs us.

For the next month, starting Thursday, the World Cup will be that event, the one that will be hard to avoid on traditional and social media. You can try to run and hide from it, or you can give it a try.

Here's a promise: It won't bite you. You might even enjoy it, like a growing number of Americans.

Presenting a quick primer for soccer newbies, so you can sound like a soccer lifer, too:

• Jurgen Klinsmann: The coach from Germany married an American, lives in California, and his son is a goalkeeper for the U.S. U-18 team.

He's trying to change the way the U.S. team plays, making it a more aggressive, attacking team that plays to win rather than one that sits back and plays not to lose. He's also the guy who cut The Best American Soccer Player Ever, Landon Donovan, from this squad.

• Samba soccer: This World Cup is being played in Brazil, and no country has won more World Cups than those single-named Brazilians.

Hey, when you have a player named Hulk on your team, you've got to be good, right?

This is the country that put the "beautiful" in the beautiful game. Sorry, Hulk, but Neymar is the player to watch on this team.

• The stars will shine: This Cup has plenty of players who will amaze even longtime soccer watchers with the things they can do.

Luis Suarez (Uruguay) is considered the world's best player, unless of course you think Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) is better. Everyone knows, however, that little Lionel Messi (Argentina) is really the world's best with a soccer ball at his feet.

Andres Iniesta (Spain), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wayne Rooney (England), Arjen Robben (Netherlands) and Mario Balotelli (Italy) aren't bad either.

And there still are some great players who won't be in Brazil because of injury or because their country didn't qualify.

• So who are the best Americans? Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are the guys who will be expected to score, but Michael Bradley is the team's engine.

All three have played in Europe's best leagues, though Dempsey and Bradley have come back to Major League Soccer in the past year.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard will have to have a great tournament.

• The Group of Death: Clearly, no-doubt-about-it, the toughest group in the round-robin first stage of the tournament. And, yes, Group G includes the United States.

Germany and Portugal might be favored to win the tournament if it were being played in Europe instead of South America, and Ghana has lots of talent and seems to put a hex on the Americans when they play each other.

If the Americans advance to the Round of 16, they will earn it. And, yes, they can do it.

Just think of the media interest there will be if the United States goes deep into the tournament.

• Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here