BOSTON (CBS) – John Powers of the Boston Globe joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show for a World Cup preview, including the enormous amount of pressure on Brazil, the youth of the US roster, players to watch and much more.
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann knew it’d be an uphill battle when he took the job. So when he picked a youthful roster for the 2014 World Cup, it was clear what the real goal is.
“A lot of people think that [2018 is the focus]. If you look at the makeup of the team you only have five real guys from the last team here. Landon Donovan who’s the all-time scorer, who of course was the big star last time for keeping the Americans alive, was left off. Landon hasn’t been in his top form recently. He did take a sabbatical last year, which didn’t please Klinsmann.
“I think Klinsmann’s feeling is ‘Who’s playing well now?’ What’s interesting is you have seven guys on this team who have dual-citizenship, including five German Americans. They’re very young, especially on defense. His sense is let’s take a shot with young, hungry guys with nothing to lose.
“One reason they signed [Klinsmann] on is to build a program from the grassroots up, and that’s going to take more than a couple of years. Certainly he had the luxury of choosing a young team and building for 2018 if he wants.”
Powers added that the USMNT is 80 to 1 odds to win it all and “most betting people figure they won’t survive [group play].”
The US opens “the group of death” Monday against Ghana, who knocked them out of the last two World Cups, then they must face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal team and then finally Germany.
Brazil, who’s hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950, is facing the most pressure of any team bar none.
“Huge pressure on Brazil with all the problems they have there. There are still a lot of protests. They’re spending $12 billion on the World Cup with the  Olympics still to come. The team bus got surrounded by protesters the other day. Enormous pressure on Brazil. If they don’t win this it would be considered a catastrophe,” said Powers.
Powers then compared England to the Red Sox pre-2004, who between mistakes and bad luck can’t ever seem to get out of their own way. Powers does not give the Brits much of a shot in Brazil.
Lastly, for the soccer laymen, Powers provided a list of the best players to watch:
– Neymar (Brazil)
– Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
– Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Listen below for the full discussion: