Eyewitness Sports Reporter Juan Kincaid is on vacation in Brazil to watch the USA and others play in the World Cup. He was in the stands Thursday during the country's game against Germany.
At the end of the day it's all about getting to the knockout stage of the World Cup. But here are a few observations from today's game against Germany.
1. The Germans are that good and, in my opinion, are the favorite to win the World Cup. Yes, the Germans. Better than Holland, France, Argentina and Brazil, teams that have looked very good in their opening round games.
But there's just something about the clinical precision that speaks to the German game. Their style of play never changes.
No matter who the opponent is, Germany approaches the game the same.
2. The Americans are better than expected. This so-called 'group of death' was supposed to do them in quickly. But, to the surprise many, including myself, Team USA played above expectations, and at the end of the day, they were clearly the second best team in the group, earning their way out of it with some sharp play offensively, and some shaky but effective defense.
As night falls on us here in Brazil, I can't help but want to heap a ton of praise on head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The U.S. didn't come here with the most talent, but one could argue that they were the most prepared mentally and especially physically. No team had to travel more across this vast country than the Americans and, minus the game against Germany, the U.S. team looked like the better prepared team.
Their ability to play through the heat and humidity on tired legs is a credit to their pre-World Cup training sessions put on by Klinsmann.
Later, when final cuts came and Landon Donovan was let go, Klinsmann was raked over the coals for it. I didn't agree with it because I believed that Donovan's cup experience would be an asset.
Some will never forgive him for the omission, and Jozy Altidore's game-one injury added fuel to the fire. But Klinsmann stuck by his guns and by the players he's brought aboard.
Deandre Yedlin, Brad Davis, John Brooks are un-heard of guys in American national team circles and have shown brightly here in Brazil.
3. Back in 2010, the go, go, USA reached the knockout stage thanks to a Donovan last-minute goal against Algeria. It was an exhilarating time to be a U.S. soccer fan.
National pride was in full swing. Television ratings were up all over the country. Restaurants and bars were packed with fans for the stars and stripes. It was the best of times for soccer in our country, in our city of New Orleans, until this year.
Four years later and the love of the beautiful game is everywhere, from Uptown to Mid-City to the West Bank to the Northshore, Team USA's following in Southeast Louisiana is even better than before.
Even Saints fans have, for one month, channeled their Who Dat energy into soccer lyrics of I believe that we will win. And you can best believe that this team feels it all the way down here down south.
My Brazilian adventure is sadly coming to an end in a couple of days. I've seen the beaches of Barra, Copacabana and Ipanema. I've sampled plenty of amazing food (not as good as NOLA, though), and I've been able to make new soccer friends from all over the world. People that I may never meet again, but will no doubt, be in the same city with again, perhaps at the same game again.
Four years from now, the World Cup moves on to Russia and, God willing, I hope to be experiencing all of this once again.
After all, it's the biggest party in the world, and who wouldn't wanna get an invite back to that?
One last time.
I believe that.
I believe that we will win. I believe that we will win.
USA vs Belgium, July 1.