The U.S. soccer team will be playing against Argentina in the semifinals of the Copa America Centenario at Houston’s NRG stadium on Tuesday. Argentina is currently the best team in the world, and its star player, Lionel Messi is well on his way to becoming the best player of all time.
What are the chances of the United States team winning? Most followers of the sport believe that the Argentines are going to steamroll against the underdog Americans.
But that is actually a good thing.
Backed up on the wall against the best team in the world makes the U.S. soccer team shrug off unnecessary pressures and focus on their game plan. Looking into the future, one must look back at their history to know what they are capable of.
Who would have thought the U.S. team would make it this far after their early loss to Colombia? Looking back even further, who would have expected the U.S. to beat Argentina 3-0 back in 89? It all boils down to silencing the din and focusing on the task at hand.
If the U.S. can hold on against Argentina’s onslaught, this could only add to the heightened pressure on the Argentines who are expected to win the competition handily. This will be a great platform for the Americans to showcase their skills before a huge audience and gain more fans.
The strategy of the U.S. team under Jürgen Klinsmann could not just be buttressed by a slim hope that the best player on the planet won’t be bringing in his A-game in the field. Many experts believe that the focus should be on stopping Messi for the U.S. to win.
If anything at all, the core of the U.S. strategy should not just be on intercepting Messi, and blocking his path. Stopping Messi sounds an impossible task. On the contrary, the focus should be on how to contain the players that surround him. If the Americans cannot stop Messi’s abilities as an exceptional athlete, the next best thing is to limit his options at play.
Messi can only be as good as his teammates. In spite of his exceptional talents, soccer remains a team sport. The U.S. team should focus its efforts on what it can do, instead of just exhausting their efforts on one guy. On the offensive end, they should build on their speed and work on their set plays.
Win or lose against the best, for the Americans, it is a win-win setup.
Photo courtesy: Nathan Forget/Flickr.com