Andrea Canales: USA versus Slovenia! Predictions?
Allen Ramsey: It's got to be the USA winning. Call it 2-1 because I think it will be close. I think the USA has plenty of swagger coming in and they'll be confident enough to take control of the match in the second half.
Shane Evans: They have to win, and will. I'm going a nice clean 2-0 result. Send the confidence through the roof. The final will be up next...
Canales: Man, I dunno. Slovenia has a win, which the USA doesn't, and they're going to defend like mad. The USA will be hard put to score. I figure they manage it, but just barely. 1-0.
Zac Lee Rigg: The USA doesn't get up for small matches. Another flukey 1-0 win for Slovenia.
Canales: No, Slovenia won't get past Tim Howard that easily. Who do you have scoring in the game?
Ramsey: It's 1-1 late and Jose Torres gets the winner from a freekick. Jozy scores the other for the USA.
Luis Bueno: Slovenia is going to play eight or nine behind the ball, and they did have a tough defense in qualifying; only gave up four goals in 10 games in a group with Slovakia and the Czech Republic. However, I think the U.S. is a better team and has some dangerous players, and the U.S. is confident. That's good for a 1-0 U.S. win.
Canales: I say Buddle scores - he and Donovan connect on a play that slices though the Slovenia defensive wall.
Evans: I think Jozy does the damage. He'll want to make up for a pretty dull showing against England.
Bueno: I think we'll see Edson and Jozy up top, trying to muscle past the Slovenian defense. That might soften them up for Robbie Findley and Herculez Gomez if need be, but I don't think the U.S. will need a late surge of offense. Landon will become the second U.S. player on this team to score in two World Cups.
Rigg: I'll go with a DeMerit own goal.
Evans: I called Spector to score one week in the TFE...and he did. It was an own goal, but yeah, he scored.
Rigg: Oh I'd go for him scoring an own goal but given the form of Cherundolo, Spector won't see the pitch.
Evans: Yeah, I'm with ya, I was just trying to relate.
Canales: Zac, you've been so pessimistic on the USA team of late - any particular reason? You had them losing the opener, no? On a last minute PK call? Or do I have that confused?
Rigg: No, I had them drawing the opener. Which they did.
Canales: Oh, right, you said they'd be leading - and then the penalty.
Rigg: I think this team peaked in last year's Confederations Cup and don't really expect much in this tournament.
Bueno: They had some decent performances after the Confed Cup in 09.
Canales: I have to agree the Confed Cup team was better - if only for Davies. But that team also had a healthy Onyewu, though I think he's getting there.
Bueno: Thus far, the U.S. has had a better start to this tourney than that one.
Ramsey: This team has seen the peak, but they haven't reached it yet.
Canales: Well, the referees have been better, Luis, which has been crucial.
Ramsey: That win over Spain was a glimpse at what can happen, consistency in performances can make more big results possible.
Canales: That's what Landon Donovan recognized when he said after the England result that the team can have a good game and then a let down, and then vowed the let down wouldn't happen. We'll see.
Bueno: Well, there's no guarantee that any player from last year was going to perform again this year. I mean, wasn't Spector sending in nice crosses from the right side a year ago?
Ramsey: I honestly think this team is stronger. Cherundolo is fit, Edu is fit, Torres has actually seen the field.
Canales: Some players have stepped up this year. Herc and Buddle come to mind. I think Torres is better than he was last year, too.
Bueno: And Torres didn't step on the field last year, and not many were complaining about it. Not to mention Buddle and Herc have had a wicked scoring rate this year as well.
Canales: So it's improve some, regress some.
Ramsey: The only real drop, judging from the opener, is with Davies being out, and honestly I thought Findley looked good against England.
Canales: Maybe it's a wash.
Bueno: It's just silly to compare last year's team to this year's team, though.
Canales: But which team has the USA played lately that's been most like Slovenia? Australia? I think Turkey is better than Slovenia, and they did fine there. I'm not counting the Czech Republic, because of the key starters who were out.
Rigg: I think the idea of the Slovakia friendly was that the team is similar to Slovenia.
Ramsey: I would agree. But I think Slovakia is considered the better team.
Canales: We had a Slovakia friendly?
Bueno: A memorable one.
Rigg: Yeah, that's back when Cunningham and Findley got their first looks in.
Canales: Oh yeah, but not only was that last year, that squad didn't have Howard, Donovan, or Onyewu.
Ramsey: And, let's face it, Slovenia need to attack us, Slovakia didn't. Slovenia won't want to leave it up to that final game against England.
Rigg: Slovenia has no one near the talent of Hamsik, which helps.
Bueno: Here's one factor to consider though about Slovenia: they still have to play England. If they sit back and go for and get a draw, they will have four points to the Americans' two. England could have four points as well heading into the final game.
Ramsey: And still it's not safe.
Bueno: So Slovenia could have four, lose to England and get bounced with a U.S. win.
Ramsey: Exactly. And by the way, I don't think England will cough up another result.
Bueno: A draw is not that great for them unless England loses or ties against Algeria, and what are the odds of that? And they probably feel the U.S. is a beatable opponent. I still expect to see a lot of defending from Slovenia, but they will have to go forward at some point.
Ramsey: They have no choice.
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