In the 2006 World Cup, the US soccer team was out-gunned and outplayed.
After the tournament, amid criticism of the national team's performance, commentators and players themselves pointed out they'd been drawn in a very tough first round group. Well, for the World Cup 2010, the US has earned a dream opportunity in Group C. If Landon Donovan and his teammates fail to advance, they won't be able to blame the FIFA gods for their predicament. It will be all on them.
Sure, England is one of the top seeds, and it's hard to see the US beating them. But it has happened before.
Another 'miracle on grass'?
In the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, a team of part-time American players – among them a high school teacher and postman – beat mighty England 1-0 in the biggest upset in the game to that point.
The so-called "Miracle on Grass" was so shocking that British newspapers, receiving the wire reports back home, assumed a typo had missed a 10-0 England win. The US coach at the time, not schooled in the modern art of public relations as psychol0gical warfare before the game, frankly told reporters before the match that the US had "no chance."
While US soccer has professionalized in the decades since, the English game is still way beyond that of the Yankees. A US win would prove almost as miraculous as that famous effort.
But the rest of the group is smooth sailing, at least on paper. Both Slovenia and Algeria scratched into the World Cup via playoffs, while the US more or less sailed through its qualifying groups. While the passion for the game is greater in both those country's, the US pedigree far outshines it's future opponents in recent history.
Major League teammates Beckham and Donovan could face off
There's even a little extra spice for the USA-England game. American captain Landon Donovan could well face off against English icon – and LA Galaxy teammate – David Beckham, a man he feuded with this year before patching things up and making a push for the Major League Soccer championship that only fell just short, going out on penalties in the final.
And it gets better for the US: If they make it out of the group, as expected, the structure of the tournament means they wouldn't have to face the four best teams in the tournament – Spain, Holland, Brazil, and Italy – before the semifinals (if they make it that far).