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FIFA told the U.S. Soccer Federation that 8,000 American fans purchased tickets, 2,000 more than English supporters, and groups such as Sam's Army and American Outlaws were expected to fill the 38,646-capacity stadium with sections of red, white and blue.
Following the 1950 tournament, the Americans failed to reach the World Cup again for 40 years. Now they're in for the sixth straight time.
Hopes were raised after they reached the World Cup quarterfinals in South Korea in 2002, their best finish since the initial tournament in 1930. But they dropped out in the first round in Germany four years ago, and Bradley was hired to replace Bruce Arena as coach.
Grouped with England, Slovenia and Algeria, with the top two nations advancing, the U.S. faces its toughest opponent first. The Americans are 2-7 in head-to-head matchups, getting outscored 35-8. The other win was 2-0 in a 1993 exhibition at Foxborough, Mass.
Some of Bradley's lineup decisions were unclear, although he did say Jozy Altidore had recovered from a sprained ankle to start at forward and Bocanegra will start on defense.
But would he start Oguchi Onyewu or Clarence Goodson in central defense with Jay DeMerit? Onyewu is coming off knee surgery last October and without a 90-minute match in eight months. Would Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu or Jose Torres start in central midfield with Michael Bradley?
And would Edson Buddle or Robbie Findley start up front with Altidore?
Stopping the speedy and strong yet tempestuous Wayne Rooney will be the key. The striker has 25 goals in 60 international appearances, giving England hope that it can win its first World Cup title since hosting the tournament in 1966.
The Americans have other ideas.
"Historically," Donovan said, "it's an incredible game."
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