Game on in Brazil! This is it. The world will tune in to the South American continent for the next 31 days. In that time frame, the forwards, or strikers will have the eyes of the world on their backs. They are the ones their nations will be watching, praising, criticizing whenever they come in contact with the ball. Men like England’s Wayne Rooney, Argentina’s Lionel Messi, or Japan’s Shinji Kagawa will get the glory when they break the net. In this edition we’ll be looking at three forwards from each CONCACAF representative. Let the goals begin!
Jozy Altidore – USA
Jozy Altidore will play in his second FIFA World Cup after taking part in the 2010 South Africa edition. The 24 year-old Sunderland FC player from the English Premier League arrives with impressive credentials with the USMNT. The 24 year-old has played in 70 games and scored on 23 occasions. Altidore is a very powerful player with a strong charge. In the CONCACAF region he is able to plow through any defense, and has done the same in Europe scoring 39 goals with Dutch Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar. A positive note, Altidore scored against Germany in 2013 during a friendly match at RFK Stadium. The Yanks will face Germany in the group stage.
Clint Dempsey – USA
The USMNT team captain plays for MLS side Seattle Sounders FC. He made his rounds in the EPL playing for Fulham FC and Tottenham Hotspur. He has scored in two world Cups, in Germany 2006 against Ghana and South Africa 2010 against England. He has good control of the ball and is not afraid to take shots from long distance. The 31 year-old has 105 games with the USMNT with 37 goals. Dempsey has the task of leading the USMNT against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.
Chris Wondolowski – USA
The San Jose Earthquakes player led the 2012 MLS season with 27 goals. He made his first appearance with the USMNT in a friendly against Chile in 2011. Since then, he has appeared on 21 occasions, breaking the net nine times. “Wondo” has good vision on the pitch and is quick to put himself in the right place at the right time. The 31 year-old will be needed in Brazil if the USMNT looks to get into the Round of 16.
USA forwards analysis:
The Americans are in a tough group that includes Portugal and Germany. They will need the experience that Dempsey and Wondolowski bring to the game. Altidore has been dormant for a while, but recent call ups saw him break the net. If the U.S. wants to advance, they will need goals, and on the first line to bring those are Altidore, Wondolowski and Dempsey. A falter in this line, and the USMNT can see themselves on an early plane home from Brazil.
Bryan Ruiz – Costa Rica
Bryan Ruiz gets his first opportunity to play at the world cup. The PSV Eindhoven striker is also the Costa Rican national team captain. Since 2005 he has played in 63 games with the Ticos and scored on 12 occasions. The 28 year-old will have his hands full as Costa Rica takes on Uruguay, England and Italy.
Joel Campbell – Costa Rica
Joel Campbell was signed by EPL side Arsenal but has been on loan with several clubs. He currently plays for Greek side Olympiacos FC. The 21 year-old has 33 games with the national team and nine goals in that time. Campbell made 15 appearances for Costa Rica during world cup qualification and scored three goals. Campbell is a strong player. Costa Rica will depend on his size and abilities to get past the group stage competition.
Randall Brenes – Costa Rica
Randall Brenes plays in his native Costa Rica with Cartagines. He’s been on the national team since 2005 playing in 39 games with eight goals. He played in eight games leading to Brazil and scored two goals in the process. The 30 year-old is making his first appearance in the world cup.
Costa Rica forwards analysis:
The Ticos have the hardest task of any CONCACAF team. They are facing three teams that have seven world titles between them. On paper Costa Rica is vastly inferior. However, bigger surprises have happened at the world’s greatest tournament. The Costa Ricans arrive with no pressure and will be able to enjoy themselves. Perhaps this attitude may give the Ticos a memorable moment against one of the former FIFA World Cup champions.
Jerry Bengston – Honduras
Jerry Bengston plays for MLS side New England Revolution. The 27 year-old is a dynamic player that is lethal in the area. He has 44 games with the national team and scored 19 goals. Bengston will be the key piece in Luis Suarez’ lineup. If he is in tune, the Catrachos could take the step they are looking for to progress on the world stage.
Carlo Costly – Honduras
Pairing with Bengston at forward, Carlo Costly makes Honduras a lethal team. He was part of the team that qualified for the 2010 South Africa tournament but was left off the list due to injury. The 31 year-old will get his shot to perform for his national team in Brazil. The Real Español player could mark his team’s first goal since 1982 at the FIFA World Cup. Costly has 70 games with Honduras with 31 goals to his name. He is responsible for Mexico’s second Aztecaso, scoring the winning goal at the Azteca Stadium. If he’s in tune with Bengston, Honduras could make a surprise in Brazil.
Jerry Palacios – Honduras
Jerry Palacios is the senior man on attack. The LDU Alajuelense striker arrives with the experience of the 2010 South Africa World Cup. He participated against Switzerland and Spain. The 32 year-old has the opportunity to lead the attack against three teams that are accessible.
Honduras forwards analysis:
Of the four CONCACAF representatives, Honduras has what can be called an accessible group. The Catrachos can take that step they are looking for on the world stage. The Honduras attack comes with maturity and experience. This will be important, especially in the game against France; team that reached the games with a team full of youngsters. The combination of Bengston, Costly and Palacios could not only get Honduras goals, but that victory they’ve been looking for to transcend in international soccer.
Oribe Peralta – Mexico
Oribe Peralta arrives in good form. The former Club Santos Laguna striker is lethal in the area, and is not afraid to get down and dirty to put the ball in the net. He was an integral part of getting Mexico to Brazil 2014. He was also responsible for the winning goal against Brazil at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The 30 year-old has 33 games with El Tri with 16 goals. Peralta will be the lead in the Mexican attack.
Giovani dos Santos – Mexico
Giovani dos Santos is a creative player with an educated foot. He plays the jogo bonito and grew up in the FC Barcelona system in Spain. When Gio is in tune, he is unstoppable. He is lethal in set-piece plays. He is also not afraid to take shots from a distance, or pass to charging forwards in the area. In 2013, he had 11 goals with Villarreal CF in 31 games. Since joining El Tri, which includes the 2010 South Africa World Cup, Gio has played in 76 games with 14 goals. He won the U-17 FIFA World Cup in Peru 2005 and the Olympic gold medal at the London 2012 games. Mexico will be looking to dos Santos for creativity and style to get them past their competitors.
Javier Hernandez – Mexico
Mexico is turning to Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to help them put the ball in the net. The Manchester United striker is lethal when the ball is in play. Many times Chicharito has saved ManU with quick wit in the area. Some call him a “goal poacher.” But there is no doubt that he can change the game in seconds. Don’t believe it? See his record against EPL side Chelsea FC. The 26 year-old has made 62 appearances with El Tri and broke the net on 35 occasions. Hernandez will have to awaken during Brazil 2014 to break the net. He is no stranger to scoring at the world cup, he had a goal against France, and against Argentina at the 2010 South Africa games. At the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup he scored against Italy and Japan.
Mexico forwards analysis:
Some would say that Mexico arrives with “wet powder” to Brazil 2014. Along with Raul Jimenez, player not mentioned here, the Mexicans are strong on attack. However, they have been lacking in goals. Despite that, they managed a strong showing against Israel and Ecuador in recent tune-ups. A good game against Portugal gives Mexico the confidence that they need to have a good performance in Brazil. The Mexicans can still be a surprise, even if they had to requalify to get to South America. So, it’s game on!!!