Team Profile: United States
The tournament in South Africa will be the sixth consecutive appearance for the American squad.
Team: United States
Colours: White shirts, dark blue shorts, white socks.
Nickname: The Yanks
Previous World Cup appearances: 8 (1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)
Best World Cup performance: Third place, 1930
Coach: Bob Bradley
Most capped player: Cobi Jones 164
Top scorer: Landon Donovan 42
Current FIFA Ranking: 14
United States Squad
The tournament in South Africa will be the sixth consecutive appearance for the American squad. The 2002 outfit - featuring a young Landon Donovan, now the team`s best player - reached the quarter-finals, but failure to advance from the group stage in 2006 hurt the country`s claim as a growing soccer power.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
The Americans posted a 6-2-2 record during the final round of CONCACAF qualification, good enough to finish first in the six-team group for the second straight cycle. The Red, White, and Blue lost at Costa Rica and Mexico, but posted a 4-0-1 record on their home soil.
As the US showed during their run to the finals of this summer`s Confederations Cup, when the team stays compact, hustles, and scraps, they can beat anyone - including Spain. The squad boasts a few names that a European football fan would recognise, but their heart and desire compares favourably with the world`s best sides.
The Stars and Stripes struggle to generate offensive chances during the run of play. Donovan is one of the few members of the team who can create on the fly - Clint Dempsey is another - but it remains to be seen whether the Galaxy man can successfully carry the brunt of the burden on his shoulders.
Although criticised for being too conservative at times, Bob Bradley has led the U.S. to a 34-16-6 record since January 2007. In total, 87 different footballers have earned a cap under the manager and the depth of the player pool has increased accordingly. Still, he needs a good showing on the sport`s biggest stage to quit his many detractors.
Tim Howard (Everton): One of the best goalkeepers in the English Premier League backstops the American team. He`s vital to their success and routinely makes game-saving stops. If the US is to advance, Howard will have to be a monster in goal.
Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy): Recent friendlies against Slovakia and Denmark showed how vital the 27-year-old is to the team`s offense. In 180 minutes, the US couldn`t manage a single goal and barely mustered any dangerous chances.
Carlos Bocanegra (Stade Rennes): The team captain normally plays at centre-back and will be even more essential with both Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu recovering from injuries. While the former player will almost certainly be ready to go, Milan`s Onyewu - the first choice to pair with Bocanegra - is out for at least four months while he recovers from knee surgery.
BEST FOOTBALLING MOMENT
After shocking Portugal in the opening match of the 2002 World Cup and squeaking through to the knockout stage, the US defeated arch-rival Mexico 2-0 to advance into the quarter-finals. There they met a Germany side featuring a clinically brilliant, in-form Oliver Kahn. Despite outplaying their opponents and having a host of excellent scoring opportunities, the Americans couldn`t beat the German man mountain and fell 1-0.
OFF THE PITCH
Famous for: A population that`s indifferent to soccer; producing excellent goalkeepers; giants of CONCACAF; a wonderful rivalry with Mexico; potentially an awakening football power.
Most likely to: Have a chance to advance into the knockout stage on the final matchday but fall short.
WORLD CUP OBJECTIVE
After a disappointing effort during the 2006 World Cup, the Americans need to get past the group stage if they are going to continue their quest to gain respect on the international footballing stage. Anything less will be seen as another wasted opportunity.