It remains one of the final sporting frontiers for the United
States to conquer although they reached the semi-finals in 1930 and
caused one of soccer's greatest upsets when they beat England the
last time that the World Cup was held in Brazil in 1950.
Since that inaugural event they have reached the quarter-finals just
once, in 2002, although this will be the United States' seventh
successive appearance in the finals, a consistent run bettered only
by Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Germany, Spain and South Korea.
They face a tough challenge going far in Brazil after being drawn in
Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana although head coach Juergen
Klinsmann is adamant his side has every chance of reaching the round
"I'm not worried at all. I'll just take it the way it is and we're
going to prepare the best way and we're going to be well prepared
for the World Cup," Klinsmann said.
"We'll build up confidence and believe that we can get good results
to get into the next round.
"We're excited about this, big time. That's where you want to be in
a World Cup. It's a difficult draw but we'll find a way to go
STRENGTH IN DEPTH
The U.S. have a solid team with a lot of depth in the midfield and
an experienced coach who knows what it takes to win the sport's
The main strength of the team is their central midfield,
particularly Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, who provide the
steel and overall focus to dominate the centre of the park.
The U.S. have surpassed Mexico as CONCACAF's best team after
dominating the qualifying tournament. In the final round of
qualifying, the Americans won seven and drew one of their 10
matches, scoring 15 goals and conceding eight.
They have also recorded confidence-boosting victories against
European opposition since Klinsmann took over in 2011, including
Germany, Italy and world champions Spain.
"I look at things always from a positive side. We have a young team,
a team that is growing. We've built a lot over the past two years,"
"We've had the most successful year in our history in 2013, so we've
built the confidence and the belief that we can deal with those
"We're going to take it one game at a time, starting with Ghana who
gave us some issues in the recent World Cups. If we start off there
well, then it builds even more confidence for the next two big
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Defence remains a weakness and Klinsmann has not yet settled on his
best unit. He has opted for Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler as his
central defensive pairing but there are question marks when they are
up against top strikers.
If the U.S. succeed at the World Cup it will almost certainly be
because Bradley and Jones dominate the midfield and Jozy Altidore,
Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan find their scoring boots.
If they flop, it is likely to be because their defense has not held
"We're not underdogs. All 32 nations in the World Cup are big
names," Klinsmann said.
That is exactly what the United States did on the afternoon of June
29, 1950, in Belo Horizonte when they defeated England 1-0.
Hundreds of thousands of words have been written about that match,
attempting to explain how an England team with some of its greatest
players, like Tom Finney, Stan Mortensen, Billy Wright, Wilf Mannion — but not Stanley Matthews — lost to the States, a disparate band
made up of all kinds of nationalities.
The only goal was scored by the Haitian-born Joe Gaettjens who later
disappeared in the dark days of the Papa Doc regime in his homeland
and was never seen alive again.
With both England and the U.S. in this summer's tournament, Belo
Horizonte officials had been hoping they would be drawn together for
a re-match in their city, but the draw was unkind to them.
Instead the U.S. will try and create some new legends of their own
in Natal, Manaus and Recife where Klinsmann faces his compatriots in
the last of their group games.
If his men can do to the Germans what the 1950 Americans did to
England, who would predict how far the U.S. can go?
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Mike Collett)
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