A lot of discussion about the USMNT has revolved around their lack of star power and how much impact Arena’s coaching can have. I want to take the discussion down a different path – how bad do we think the crowds will be?

The News Blog has their US open thread going and one comment summed it up:

It’s sad to say, but if ill-wishing by other nations’ fans worked, you’d lose 7-O today just because of your bloody government, especially after the recent’suicide is a PR stunt’ comment.

Even if by some miracle the US do progress to the next round, that ill-will is likely to increase tenfold. I would not want to be on that team.

There is no doubt the respect of the USA has nosedived in recent years due to the actions of our government overseas. Besides the fact that we face two European teams, I expect the crowds will be heavily against the men’s team as European fans vent their frustrations with US foreign policy. Will it be a factor? Steve made a good point:

If Ill-wishing other teams worked, the English would be watching the Irish play and the Germans would lose to Poland, then Holland 11-0.

But then, it’s not the ill-wishing I’m concerned about. It’s the massive crowd noise and clear support of the other team. Off hand question – will ESPN tinker with the background noise feed if it gets ugly?

That said, I think we have a very good chance of not getting rattled by the crowd, no matter what they throw at us (literally and figuratively) We have a very experienced team with 12 or so players who have previous World Cup experience. This should help them ignore the crowd and take on the task at hand. I hope. I thought the Gatorade commercial highlighted some of the things we’ve faced before quite nicely. The guns and razor wire fencing were priceless. Playing qualifiers in CONCACAF is no picnic, so will the World Cup be better or worse? Normally I’d say better but this time around – worse or as bad seems about right.

What do you all think? Will the crowds be a major factor for the USMNT? I expect security, already intense as heck, will be even more so for this match.

I guess you can’t have a preview post without a prediction so… USA 2 Czech Republic 1. Donovan turns out to be dangerous and Kasey makes some impossible saves.