Pulisic sacrifices body to propel U.S. into World Cup’s knockout round
The American players and staff in the national team squad that will take on Serbia are a study in contrasts.
The U.S. will not make the Final Four, while Serbia is a force to be reckoned with. One is on a path to another final, while the other is going for it. One is the best team, while the other is the best.
In the eyes of U.S. soccer great Bill Russell, the Serbian players are like a “black and white movie” he saw as a teenager in North America during the 1950s. They had a strong style and were a force to be reckoned with, he says.
“I was in junior high school when it was a black and white movie, and I could see it was good,” Russell said.
In time, he learned that film was a trick of the light, and he soon found the movies a black and white, too. The same could be said about the U.S. soccer team. Serbia is in a world of color.
It was also the case when the Americans faced them two years ago in a friendly against North America, and a draw was the result. It is the same way with this game at noon Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. With the draw, U.S. Soccer has clinched its spot in the knockout round of the 2014 World Cup.
That is the goal U.S. Soccer, headed by new general manager Jurgen Klinsmann, had for a team that had not won an international game or tournament since the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and was 5-0-2 in qualifying.
“We knew it would go our way, and probably against a good team, which made the draw a necessity,” Klinsmann said. “We knew what the game would be like and prepared accordingly. We have no doubt after two games we are in the Final Four.”
The Americans were in the Final Four last year, and even a draw has its advantages in the knockouts.
“We learned the game, studied the game, and I think, in the second half, in the second half we were more and more of a team,” said Michael Bradley.