Mar 22, 2012, 9:09 AM EST
Here’s a little something to stir into your morning Cheerios; a little bulk of soccer knowledge to fiber up your day:
I know that Olympic qualifying against the regional “minnows” might seem like so much formality. The United States’ group includes Cuba (up first tonight), El Salvador and Canada. (A good primer on regional Olympic qualifying is here.)
The region’s other power, Mexico, has Honduras, Panama and Trinidad-Tobago in Group B to swat away. Or so it would seem.
The top pair from each group advances into the tournament semifinals. In all honesty, the shock meter would register “massive” if the United States or Mexico doesn’t move into the all-important semis. And yet, danger does exist.
Upsets can and have happened before in this tournament. Quite recently, in fact. Just ask the United States. Or Mexico.
In 2004, Mexico and Costa Rica qualified for the Athens games out of the CONCACAF region. See who’s missing there? The U.S. under-23 side ran up against Mexico during qualifying and came out on the wrong side of a 4-0 whuppin. You might recognize a few names from that American team: Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Kyle Beckerman, for instance.
In 2008, it was Mexico’s turn to wet the CONCACAF bed. In this case, the young El Tri didn’t even make it out of group play. Guatemala and Canada emerged, leaving Mexico to deal with the ugly and embarrassing aftermath. (By the way, those 2008 group matches happened on the very same Home Depot Center field where Friday night’s Group B matches take place.)
More recent still, the U.S. under-20 side failed to emerge just over a year ago from regional qualifying for the FIFA under-20 World Cup. In fact, several members of Caleb Porter’s current under-23 side were on the team that failed to qualify for Colombia 2011, a downfall that cost Thomas Rongen his position at U.S. Soccer. Perry Kitchen, Zarek Valentin, Amobi Okugo and Joe Gyau, now in Nashville with the U.S. under-23s, were members of Rongen’s would-be FIFA World Cup qualifier.
- Some very interesting names now available through Major League Soccer’s re-entry process 0
- Premier League Playback: Everton in the mix, miserable Mourinho, basement boys battling 0
- United States national team 2014 friendlies coming into view 2
- Swansea 1-1 Hull: Danny Graham breaks his long scoring drought for the visitors (video) 0
- 2014 World Cup Draw: Recapping the event (43)
- 2014 World Cup Draw: USA in Group of Death with Germany, Portugal, Ghana – Schedule, times, venues (34)
- What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw (23)
- Now that we know the U.S. opponents, which 23 players should Jurgen Klinsmann bring to Brazil? (20)
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: The sum of all fears scenario for the United States (17)
- Arena de Amazonia: Host of USA vs CR7
- USA Will Advance in Brazil
- Group B: No Walk In The Park
- Analyzing The Draw From An Azzurri Viewpoint
- Q&A With Alvaro Saborio
- Ronaldo: "I Didn't See the Draw, I Was Asleep"
- Messi: "There Are no Easy Opponents"
- England Are up in The Amazon Without a Paddle
- Mexico's World Cup Kit
- Fernanda Lima Raises the Bar For World Cup 2014