USA All The Way?

By Adam Caparell - July 13, 2007

For those who haven't been following the action over in Japan, you're forgiven. After all, it's easy to lose the 2007 World Championship of American Football games in the shuffle of the sports landscape considering it's currently being contested 11 time zones away.

So to bring you up to speed, with former TCU quarterback Jeff Ballard and former Iowa State defensive end Shawn Moorehead headlining the Team USA roster (among a plethora of former Division I-A, I-AA, II and III players who make up the team), the Americans will meet Japan in Sunday's gold medal game at approximately 2:10 AM ET to determine who the best team is in international girdiron play.

After steamrolling over Korea 77-0 and dispatching of Germany by 26 points, Team USA now stands just four quarters away from bringing home the gold for the first time. The U.S., you see, did not participate in the two previous tournaments run by the International Federation of American Football in 1999 and 2003. Japan won both.

So Japanese have a lot riding on Sunday's matchup. But how do the two teams matchup, you might be wondering? Think there's no way Team USA can lose? Not so fast. Let's break it down, as best we can, and get you set for most anticipated football game in Japanese - and international? - history.

USA: Adam Austin, from Arizona, actually has been the man taking the most snaps under center while Jeff Ballard is the only man to throw for a TD with Team USA mostly been concentrating on the run.
Japan: Yuichi Tomizawa hasn't turned the ball the over and he's been effective through the air, tossing a pair of touchdowns against France while splitting time with two other teammates.
Edge: Japan. The Japanese have been letting it fly a whole lot more than the U.S. and with much greater success. Japan's passing attack could give the U.S. fits as it's arguably their strongest unit. Team USA's pass rush will be critical.

Offensive Line
USA: The average size of the American linemen is 293 pounds.
Japan: The average size of the Japanese linemen is 266 pounds. So no, Japan will not be featuring any sumo wrestlers on the line.
Edge: USA. Size always matters.

Head Coaches
USA: Former Wake Forest, Texas, Illinois and Arizona head coach John Mackovic is leading Team USA. He placed a premium on size and strength, as evidenced by their use of the run over the pass in their two wins.
Japan:Toshiaki Abe emphasized "speed-over-size" when putting together his 45-man squad. So far the strategy has worked out great as Japan dominated France and Sweden in their first two games.
Edge: USA. But just barely. Why has the man known for stretching out the game via the pass seemingly abandoned it? Mackovic's leadership skills have come into question on several occasions in the past. Could they again if Japan makes things tight late?

USA: This isn't your powerhouse team one would expect. Because of the many stipulations placed on Team USA's selection, there are only a few Division I-A players on the roster and only a few Division III players have big time international experience, having played Mexico in the Aztec Bowl. The six month-plus layoff from playing is something Team USA has acknowledged as being a big factor to overcome.
Japan: The Japanese have a lot going for themselves. They've never lost in this competition. They've outscored their opponents 96-0 and they have the home crowd of course. If they can get more than 15,000 to the game, then look out (14,000 has been the largest crowd in the competition so far). This is a game the Japanese have been waiting years for because let's not forget, Japan has been playing organized football for 70 years now.
Edge: Japan

Prediction: Tough to go against Team USA. But Japan will be game. They've been waiting decades to get their chance to face off against the U.S. Japan puts up one heck of a battle, but we'll go with Team USA to narrowly pull out a win. Can't predict whether or not Japan wil cover. Haven't seen a spread from Vegas.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 10:55 AM on July 13, 2007

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