• Who will start up front for the U.S.? We know that it won’t be Robbie Findley, who is suspended after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament against Slovenia. You can safely assume we’ll see Jozy Altidore, who showed he can be useful even if he’s not scoring in the second half of the Slovenia game. (Altidore’s improved ball-holding and target-man skills are a good sign for the future.) Might U.S. coach Bob Bradley go with Altidore by himself up top? I doubt it. Even though Algeria may use just three defenders and a 4-2-3-1 might seem smart for the U.S., the fact remains that Bradley hasn’t used Altidore as a lone forward in a long, long time. If I had to guess, I’d suspect Bradley will go with Edson Buddle, with the idea that he could make a move at halftime or 60 minutes by moving Clint Dempsey into Buddle’s spot and inserting Benny Feilhaber or Stuart Holden in Dempsey’s wide-midfield position.
• How open will this game be? Very open, I predict, at least until someone scores. Algeria needs a victory to have any chance of surviving after gaining a tie against England, and the U.S. doesn’t want to rely on other results to advance to the second round. If Algeria goes with a three-man back line, there should be spaces for U.S. wide midfielders Landon Donovan and Dempsey to attack. As good as Donovan was in the second half against Slovenia, starting the U.S.’s epic two-goal comeback with a thumping goal, he has yet to be a dominating presence for both halves at a game in this World Cup. If Donovan wants to be viewed as one of the top players in the tournament, he needs to have a huge 90-minute performance on Wednesday. As for Dempsey, he was lucky not to get sent off in the first minute against Slovenia for an elbow to Zlatan Ljubijankic. Dempsey, too, needs to find a higher gear. I expect we’ll see Maurice Edu starting next to Michael Bradley in the central midfield. Edu provides a bit more offensive spark than Ricardo Clark.
• Could the referee affect the game’s outcome again? It’s always possible that we could have more issues of the kind that plagued Malian referee Koman Coulibaly in the U.S.-Slovenia game. But FIFA, perhaps acknowledging that controversy, has chosen one of its favorite refs to officiate U.S.-Algeria: Belgian Frank De Bleeckere. He got good reviews for his work at World Cup ’06, though he’s not shy to pull out his cards, and he did controversially send off Inter Milan’s Thiago Motta in this year’s Champions League semifinals against Barcelona. You can be sure that Onyewu, for one, is familiar with how De Bleeckere calls games, since Onyewu played for many years in Belgium, where De Bleeckere is a veteran official. That’s probably a good thing for U.S. fans.
• Are the Bradleys turning into the big U.S. stars of the tournament? Judging from my conversations with international media, 22-year-old Michael Bradley has been the revelation of the U.S. team on the field, at times dominating play in the midfield while also ranging forward at times. (He scored the crucial equalizer against Slovenia.) Bradley has moved up the ladder from Heerenveen in the Netherlands to Borussia Mönchengladbach in Germany, and he seems like he’d be a good fit for the English Premier League. Meanwhile, coach Bob Bradley often appears to get more respect abroad than he does in the United States. Bradley’s tactics may not always make for highlight-reel soccer, but sometimes they do, and whenever he has had his best players he has gotten results: winning the 2007 Gold Cup, reaching the final of the ’09 Confederations Cup and winning the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament. If he can get this U.S. team through to the Round of 16, he could be on his way to maximizing the U.S.’s potential again.
Landon Donovan was born on March 4th, 1982 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landon_Donovan
3 + 4 +2+0+1+0 = 10 = his personal year (from March 4th, 2010 to March 3rd, 2011) = Opportunities. Prosperity. Coincidences (God-incidences). Synchronicities. Serendipity. Destiny. Fortune. Fate. Circumstances. Setting. Placement. Timing. Fortunate. Boons. Bonus. Chance. Randomness. Coin toss. Predestination.
10 year + 6 (June) = 16 = his personal month (from June 4th, 2010 to July 3rd, 2010) = Shocks. Surprises. Unpredictable. Expect the unexpected. Anything can happen.
16 month + 23 (23rd of the month on June 23rd, 2010) = 39 = his personal day = Charming. Nice. Perfect. Ideal.
Jozy Altidore was born on November 6th, 1989 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jozy_Altidore
11 + 6 +2+0+0+9 = 28 = his personal year (from November 6th, 2010 to November 5th, 2010) = Hero. Unstoppable.
28 year + 6 (June) = 34 = his personal month (from June 6th, 2010 to July 5th, 2010) = Dexterity. Agility. Speed. First strike. Quick strike. Striking while the iron’s hot. Things happen really quickly.
Edson Buddle was born on May 21st, 1981 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edson_Buddle
5 + 21 +2+0+1+0 = 29 = his personal year (from May 21st, 2010 to May 20th, 2011) = Self-confidence. Teamwork.
29 year + 6 (June) = 35 = his personal month (from June 21st, 2010 to July 20th, 2010) = Defense. Never giving up.
35 month + 23 (23rd of the month on June 23, 2010) = 58 = his personal day = Halftime. Time out. Working overtime. Give me a break.