DL386: Matthew From The Shin Guardian On The World Cup & USA-England


We’ve started to talk a lot of soccer on this show, and will continue to do so during the World Cup. Sometimes it will be just one segment at the end of the show. Other times, like today, it will be the whole focus.

Matthew from The Shin Guardian joins the show to talk about the start of the World Cup, the likelihood that the USMNT could actually go out and beat England on Saturday and, well, gets us primed for this:

First, we talk a lot about what this means to America and to ESPN. How important is the World Cup for the WWL’s future soccer business. We don’t expect to see as many plugs for MLS as in the past, but will the announcers be charged with simply calling the matches, or does ESPN have a stake in capturing more and more soccer fans who only care every four years? Can this lead to increased exposure (and ratings) for future Premiership matches on ESPN? Could this help MLS? And does ESPN need to worry about that, or can they just revel in the fact that people are actually watching what’s on now?

We discuss US Soccer’s role in growing the game in America, which includes being progressive in social media and a heavy involvement with blogs. As a blog that covers soccer, does he feel more welcome than he anticipated? It’s easy for me to say US Soccer is doing a good job, but for those who do this every day, how helpful are they?

In Philly I spoke with Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard about how much pressure they feel going into the World Cup. Landon Donovan has been quoted as saying the average American doesn’t really care if the US doesn’t fare well, which is different than the pressure they feel in England. While true, has that changed from past years? Are there higher expectations on the US team this time around?

And can they win on Saturday? More important than that…can they get out of the group? And if they don’t, how devastating will that be?

We talk a great deal about the injuries in the World Cup and try to figure out . Essien? Drogba if he’s unable to go? Ballack? Nani? We run down how tough it will be for some of teams to replace their injured stars.

We then go in-depth on the US-England match. There’s at least five minutes in there about the ability of Jonathan Bornstein where Matthew tries to convince me that he’s actually quite skilled, but his head gets in the way while I try to convince him that Bornstein is a terrible on the ball defender. We also fall into a breakdown of the US roster, which includes a discussion about (VIDEO) that, if happens in the World Cup, could be very hard to overcome.

But isn’t the US team getting healthy at the right time? And isn’t their backline actually something of a strong point IF (HUGE HUGE HUGE IF) Onyewu can play the way he’s capable? Cherundolo has been solid on the right and can clearly help with runs down the wing. Bocanegra is the captain and, while not great, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. DeMerit could be the weak link, and that’s not as bad as, say, Bornstein, right?

For those new to the USMNT, we do a pretty detailed breakdown of what to expect this World Cup and who should be playing where. Again, we try not to dumb it down, but it’s not too heady for the average person to understand. Just keep the roster handy when you listen.


Oh, to start the show I do spend a few minutes on the Flyers and Blackhawks. Congrats to Chicago for winning a great series.

Thanks to Matthew and to you for listening.

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