For the millions of fans of the U.S. men’s national team, the 2018 World Cup in Russia just won’t be the same without the red, white and blue to cheer for. But no sports fan can miss the greatest spectacle in the world, the one that we are gifted with just once every four years. So perhaps it is time for USMNT fans to change their allegiance just for the summer and support a team that will be playing at the cup. I’m here to help you come to a decision on who to support.
First, logically, if you have some tie to a team, be it through family or a vacation where you enjoyed that country, go with them if you feel right. For example, my wife’s from Argentina, I lived down there, my son is of Argentine heritage, so I go with Argentina. But if not, I’d probably go with England, where my great grandmother was from or Switzerland, a fantastic vacation spot. Or maybe go with a team because you love their sick jerseys, like I’ve long loved Nigeria’s unis.
If you can’t seem to find another team to pick, here a little help.
Brazil – The favorites to win the World Cup, Brazil officially looks back. The team is loaded with talent, especially up top with Neymar and Gabriel Jesus, and the midfield is stout with the emergence of Paulinho and muscle in Fernandinho and Casemiro. One of the most entertaining teams to watch, this is the pick if you want to have lots of fun while watching them.
Belgium – Loaded with talent, they are like a spread of the world’s greatest food that, when combined, taste good but not good enough. There’s Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and more. This team enters with the talent to win the cup, but it will likely go out in the quarters.
Germany – If you are the kind of person who likes a sure thing, here’s your team. Reigning world champs with a boatload of new, young talent. They are a very dangerous team that will have its share of international supporters due to the organization, elegance and dominance displayed. Unlike the USMNT, you can count on them to not disappoint.
Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo. If you are pro Ronaldo or anti-Messi, the defending European champs are your team.
France – Let their country down at Euro 2016, France could very well be lifting its second World Cup trophy next summer. They have fun young players like Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann and are one of the top teams in Europe.
Uruguay – Next year will mark 68 years since Uruguay, a country of just 3.5 million people, last won a World Cup, but this team is still one of the most talented teams, especially up top and in central defense with Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin. The two-time champs have what it takes to make another deep run like in 2010. If you want an underdog team with a rich history that wants nothing more than to earn cup glory again after a long wait, Uruguay is your team.
Argentina – You like Lionel Messi? Then pick Argentina. He is the team and has one final obstacle to clear to be able to be considered one of the best ever, if not the best. He has to win a World Cup. In fact, he’s yet to win a single title with the full national team. He’s come painfully close, losing the World Cup final in 2014 and back-to-back Copa America finals in each of the next two summers. Argentina was in full crisis mode up until the final day of qualifying and was dangerously close to missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1970, but a heroic hat trick by Messi sent them to Russia. Now is his chance to cement his legacy forever.
Spain – Rarely play with a true striker and base their attack on quickness and passing, Spain is a contender to win the cup but not nearly as good as in 2010. You like watching El Clasico? Well, the Spanish national team is basically a mixture of both Barcelona and Real Madrid on one team.
The popular underdogs
Iceland – The smallest nation to ever qualify, Iceland shocked the world with a run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals and built off of that momentum to make it to Russia. They play with heart, they play for their country. They exemplify what the World Cup is all about. A popular choice among disheartened USA fans.
Panama – Yeah, will be hard for USA fans to cheer for Panama. But if you are one of those college football fans that cheers for fellow conference teams in big games, why not here? Panama didn’t do anything to deserve hate. They deserved to make it to the cup more.
The “no chance” teams
England – Same language as us in the states, obviously. Well known players from throughout the Premier League will attract many. Same chance as winning the cup as USA.
Egypt – Former USA coach Bob Bradley used to coach this team. The Pharaohs are pretty much Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) and 10 more, but they play with as much emotion as everybody else.
Nigeria – They are called the Super Eagles, they are the best team in Africa, and they play with style, a love for life and an appreciation for the moment. Nothing to not love.
Mexico – Just kidding.