US Men's National Team

Do you want to make a ton of money on next month’s World Cup with little investment? Why not take a $10 flier on the tournament championship game to eventually pit Brazil against Team USA?  Such an outcome pays out 100/1, according to Sportsbook.com, so your ten bucks can turn into a grand over the course of a few short weeks. Beat that stock market! Now, the catch is the Yanks have to reel of an unprecedented run in World Cup play to get to a final. After all, the Yanks are 66/1 to win the whole thing and still 28/1 to even make it to the final game. So dont go spending that grand just yet. But, if you must bet the World Cup, and if your jingoistic side demands some investment in the Good ‘Ole USA, then there are plenty of more reasonable, more winnable games out there to play. None will pay off as juicy as the above 100/1 shot, but these would actually have a chance at winning. That’s a fair trade off, right? Anyway, lets take a look at some of the basic bets and odds available on the United States in the 2010 World Cup.

Even though their first game remains more than a couple of weeks away, you can already place on bet on any of the three Team USA games in group play. Actually, every single game in all eight of the groups are already on the big board, so if you like a particular matchup, go ahead and play it now before the odds change. For now, lets just focus on the three matches involving the Yanks.

Team USA opens their World Cup pursuit with a juicy match against England on the second day of the whole tournament.  A rivalry that dates back to Lexington and Concord manifests itself on soccer’s brightest international stage, giving the opening days of the event some buzz from some of world’s biggest media epicenters.  In the realm of soccer, however Team USA’a  history against England is spotty at best. Even if it did occur in a World Cup match, its never good when your best moment against a rival occurred more than half century ago when the Yanks topped the Three Lions in the 1950 event. America didnt even qualify for the event for the next 40 years and, outside of that 1950 victory, they havent really beaten England. The last two matches between the two, England cruised to wins. The odds reflect that history. America is 5/1 to beat England in this match. To put that in perspective, thats a better payout than you can get with upset wins by Chile over Spain, Greece over Argentina, Serbia over Germany and Ivory Coast over Brazil. In this match, a draw plays out 2.8 to 1, while on an English win you must wager 188 to win 100 on the -188 moneyline.

The Yanks are favored in each of their other two matches in group play. In their second game against Slovenia, Team USA still pays out better than even odds for a win. A win nets a +115 payout. Hey now, at least thats better than laying juice and losing. This is expected to be a tight game as a Slovenia win only pays out 2.2 to 1. In a game with such tight odds between the teams to win, you think a draw would be chalk, yet at 2.3/1 an even game actually has the biggest payout in this match. Based on that, I’m guessing there are nuances to grasping soccer lines that a novice like myself cant even begin to unravel at this point. In Game 3, the Americans are a slightly juicy -145 to win against the Algerians. A draw is 2.5/1 while an Algeria win pays out at 3.75 to 1.

THE ODDS OF BEING DOWN WITH PARLAYING IT!

The strong partisan boosters think USA will win their final two games and get into the knockout round. A parlay of winning outcomes against Slovenia and Algeria pays out a bit more than 2.5/1. But, you know what? Nothing comes easy for the Americans in Internation soccer. I hate to diss them, but wouldnt a loss to England and a meager tie against Slovenia be just so Team USA? Such an outcome pays a bit more than 4/1, while the Yanks dropping to 0-2 after two matches pays just less than 4/1. Add in a win over Algeria on either of those parlay cards and those odds just a few dollars on both sides of 7.5/1. And, just to come full circle, the outcome most fans of the Stars and Stripes both expect and hope for–loss, win, win in order–pays out 4.5/1. Sub in a tie in the Slovenia game, for a loss, draw, win parlay and your odds are 7.5/1. Feeling bullish on the Yanks? An American sweep in group play pays out almost 21/1 odds on a parlay card, while an American goose egg of 0-3 pays out a few pennies better than 22/1. Is it a sign of American soccer progress that the odds of an 0-3 record are a longer shot than that of a 3-0 record. I say yes. World, you are formally On Notice.

I wonder though if the Yanks have the respect of the soccer betting public. I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. I offer as proof the stage of elimination odds for the Stars and Stripes. While most boosters of the team are planning on advancement out of the second round and even building optimism about a possible Round of 16 match against the Germans, it should be noted that the chalk on this board of games is for the United States to be eliminated via the group play round robin. At +125 the United States failing to survive the round robin is a small favorite over a Round of 16 loss, which is set now at +162. Translation: The oddsmakers expect a bit more money on the Yanks to get pushed aside in the first round than on anything else and have made it the least attractive of all the bets. I would have expected Round of 16 to be the lowest payout, but what do I know? I think a football is oblong. For those who want to buck the doubting public and project a win in the second round–the Germans suddenly dont look so tough, amirite!?!?!–en route to Team USA matching their 2002 quarterfinal finish, you get 5/1 odds on your investment.

BRITS DUSTY CHALK TO WIN  THIS ‘OVERRATED’ POOL

Wayne Rooney likes a lot of things, but at the forefront should be his ability to be the most creative offensive player in any game he plays. That firepower alone is enough really to merit favorite status to win this group. England’s coach Fabio Capello has won just about every title you can and winning group c in the 2010 probably wouldnt make his resume. Accordingly, the Brits are -333 chalk to win this group after round robin is complete. The Americans are +420. I’m sure those odds are speaking to people right now. Dont listen. Its a siren call by the Books. Slovenia 10/1 and Algeria 14/1 are decided longshots to win this group.

Group C has recently drawn the label of being overrated.  Is that an accurate charge? A quick look at the world rankings begins to make the case.  The cumulative average ranking of this quartet is 19. Three of these four teams, including the 14th ranked Americans, would be makingA  large international statement just by getting to the quarterfinals, if not just the second round. Given the 8th ranked Brits underachieving international record, such an appearance in this Elite Eight would also be noteworthy. There is only one pseudo contender in this group and a trio of others that dont expect to play much beyond pool play.

But lets not bury this group with that dreaded overrated tag just yet. First off, who is overrating it? If you’re talking about the press in England and American, what in the world would you expect? And they’re really the only ones obsessed with this group, a correct instinct, especially with the clubs playing each other on the second day. Its like saying the NFC West is the most overrated division in the NFL and using the coverage devoteed to it in the Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle markets as your barometer. And, say what you will about any local coverage of that grudge match this far in advance, it doesnt change the fact this is certainly one of the top-10 games of the tournament’s entire round robin segment.  Besides, the specific overrated charge above hangs it hat on the fact that Slovenia and Algeria are better than advertised and capable of pulling off some upsets. If that’s what you believe, then doesnt it make this group underrated on a different scale? The whole overrated/underrated argument is always tricky. Its like measuring intangibles.

I do agree that Slovenia and Algeria, the alleged punching bags of this bracket, are not to be overlooked. Both pulled in impressive results just to get into this field. Slovenia knocked out Russia, with a 1-0 qualifying win that forced tiebreakers into play that the Green Dragons had in their hands.  Nobody on this team wows you. They wont be explosive. They might have the dimmest roster in terms of outright star power as anyone else in this field. Perhaps thats expected when you have the smallest population of anyone in the field and have only been a country for 19 years. Their only other World Cup appearance was in Korea in 2002. They hope this go around goes better. They lost all three games in routs and, making matters worse, their coach and one of the better players got in an on-field shoving altercation during one of the games. The Green Dragons come into this year’s event riding the high of eliminating Russia and expecations of making amends from eight years ago.

Algeria, meanwhile, is making their first World Cup in 24 years, a result they earned with a killer winner-take-all elimination win over rival Egypt. It was one of the best international games of the qualifying rounds. They won that on a nuetral pitch, but will have home continent advantage in June, a certain adrenaline rush from a crowd being in their corner. Neither Team USA, nor Slovenia is obviously better thanthe  Egyptian club that would prohibit the Desert Foxes from using the same blueprint in those games. They have a good group of midfielders who could easily be the stories of the day in those matches. Both Slovenia and Algeria enter this event  playing with confidence and house money.  Not for nothing, but we’ve seen plenty of March basketball stories start with that combination alone, so dont discount it here.

Stop it, you dont know squat about soccer. What happened to all the info on the odds you promised?

Alright, lets talk the most popular pool play prop: bets on a teams total points. So how does the US do? Heck if I know. But again American boosters really like their chances of getting out of this round robin. Two wins would do that and net them a total of 6 points. You can bet total team points for any country during group play. Six points for Team USA nets 3.5/1 odds. But in another nod to what the oddsmakers expect the betting public’s perception to be, a total of less than six points is expected. Four American points is chalk with the least attrative of all payouts at 2.75 to 1. Five points and seven points, both results requiring a point in at least every game, including the England match, pay out with fat 10/1 and 7/1 odds respectively.  The max nine points gets you 14/1 odds, while the minimum of 0 pays 16/1. Are there any stats that prove teams playing on their home continent overachieve in this event? If there is, you might want to put small fliers on Algeria to have 3, 4 or 6 total points in round robin at 3.5/1, 5/1 and 11/1 respectively.

The morale of all this? Nothing. Other than I cant give out proper soccer advice. I guess I have enough confident patriotism in me where I think the Yanks can get out of round robin.They have a 55-percent chance of getting out of group play, by far the second most likely in this quartet.  But I dont see them doing much more than that. Maybe the +162 bet on the Round of 16 Elimination prop. Toss in half that amount on the 5/1 odds that they get to the quarterfinals before being sent home, and I think we have something. That’s 1.5 units pushed into the center of the table. If the Yanks get bounced in either of the first two rounds of knockout stage, we’d win either 1.12 units or pure doubling of the investment. But thats an amatuer take. Part of my hope in blogging some on the World Cup is that my more savvy soccer readers can bubble up some ideas to the JCB headquarters. So do not hesitate to drop a play idea in the comments section.