Well for the US the pressure is on as they face Slovenia, the only team in Group C with a win, and a team that many experts think could be a tougher test for the US than first expected. Slovenia is a solid team that plays organized and as a team, the US will need to find a way to break them down if they are going to pick up a full 3 points in the match.
Here is the Studio 90 Preview of the Match:
So what are the US players thinking about this matchup? Thanks to US Soccer we know:
U.S. defender JONATHAN SPECTOR On the matchup with Slovenia:
"Obviously they're at the top of the group right now, they had a good result against Algeria the other day. It's a game we need to get something from, preferably a win obviously, and we feel we should be able to do that. But we know they're a good, talented team, extremely well organized so we know it's not going to be an easy match for us."
U.S. defender CLARENCE GOODSON On how he prepares for individual opponents:
"Well, you're looking at a player's tendencies. Who does he like to try to link up with? Does he like to get the ball at his feet, or in the air? Just try and make the game as difficult as possible for the opponents and don't let anything be easy for them."
U.S. defender OGUCHI ONYEWU On what problems the Slovenian forwards might pose for the defense:
"They look like they're strikers that work for the team. They're hard workers, they run all across the field, they're going to do the dirty work in order for their team to come out on top. We're ready for that, it's nothing we haven't seen before. We just have to go out there on Friday and play the way we know how to play."
after the jump some quick match facts that should help you prepare for the big match today:
Once again thanks to US Soccer for providing us with the following Quick Hit facts:
- Tournament rules provide that all 23 players will dress for FIFA World Cup matches. Drawn as Team ‘B' for the game, the U.S. will once again wear the all-blue Nike away strip, while Slovenia will sport all white. The maximum number of substitutions will be three.
- All 23 players on the U.S. team are fit and available for selection. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard has continued to improve after being kicked in the ribs in the first half of the 1-1 draw against England.
- Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit and Robbie Findley all carry a caution into Friday's match. Another caution received prior to the quarterfinal round will result in a one-match suspension. Aleksandar Radosavljevic and Andrej Komac are in a similar situation for Slovenia.
- The U.S. and Slovenia have never met at the international level. The European nation of just more than two million is participating in its second World Cup after debuting eight years ago at Korea/Japan in 2002, and leads Group C after a 1-0 victory against Algeria in its opening match.
- This will be the USA's third visit to Ellis Park, having played there previously in the 2007 Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup final against Brazil.
- Six players in the USA's starting line-up against England made their World Cup debut: Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, DeMerit, Findley, and Howard. Edson Buddle and Stuart Holden also earned their first appearance in World Cup match when they entered as reserves.
- Landon Donovan collected his ninth World Cup cap, third on the USA's all-time list and two shy of the U.S. record shared by Cobi Jones and Earnie Stewart.
- Howard earned Budweiser Man of the Match honors for his six-save performance against England.
- With his game-tying goal, Clint Dempsey joined former U.S. forward Brian McBride as the only players in team history to score in two different FIFA World Cup tournaments. He now has 19 career tallies, good for sole possession of sixth place on the USA's all-time list.
- Dempsey is also the second player to score in back-to-back games in the World Cup for the United States, having also tallied the team's lone goal against Ghana in the final group game in 2006 in Germany. Bert Patenaude scored in four straight in the 1930 tournament.
- Against England, the USA's back line of Cherundolo, DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu and captain Carlos Bocanegra took the field together for the first time since the team's 2-1 qualifying loss to Mexico in Mexico City on August 12, 2009.
- Also that day, Onyewu turned in his first 90-minute performance since suffering a ruptured patellar tendon on Oct. 14, 2009, in the USA's final qualifier against Costa Rica.
- Findley became the first U.S. player to start a World Cup game for the U.S. after not participating in the qualifying cycle since Pablo Mastroeni started against Portugal to open the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
- Nineteen of the 23 players on the U.S. World Cup Team appeared in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying for the U.S., although only eight appeared in at least half of the USA's qualifiers (Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Bocanegra, Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, Howard and Onyewu).
- The U.S. squad carries a variety of World Cup experience into South Africa, as 15 players have been named to their first World Cup roster. Meantime, six players had played in a World Cup game prior to South Africa. Cherundolo, Donovan, and Beasley have earned a place in their third World Cup.
- Two players on the current roster have scored in a World Cup. Along with Dempsey's pair, Donovan's famous header against Mexico provided the insurance goal in the 2-0 victory in the Round of 16 on June 17, 2002, in Jeonju, Korea Republic, putting the U.S. through to the quarterfinals for the first time in 72 years.
- Sixteen players on the roster have scored at least one international goal, and seven have scored in 2010: Altidore, Bocanegra, Buddle, Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Herculez Gomez, and Clarence Goodson.
- Buddle became the most recent debutante on a U.S. scoresheet, netting a pair in the USA's 3-1 win against Australia on June 5 in Roodepoort. He is the first player to score his first two goals in the same game since Sacha Kljestan posted a hat trick on Jan. 20, 2008, against Sweden.
- With the goal on May 29 against Turkey, Altidore increased his career total to nine goals. Remarkably, five of those goals have been assisted by Donovan.
- Donovan's assist against Australia increased his record-setting total to 45 for his career.
- Dempsey became one of only a handful of U.S. players to receive recognition from FIFA when he earned the Bronze Ball at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup after scoring goals against Egypt, Spain and Brazil.
- Howard also picked up honors in that tournament, collecting the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper. Howard finished the 2010 qualifying cycle with six clean sheets in 13 appearances and a 0.92 goals against average.
- Howard hit his silver anniversary in caps after starting on May 29 against Turkey, completing his first 50 caps with 30 victories and 19 shutouts. José Torres also hit a milestone, reaching double-digit caps in perhaps his finest performance for the national team.
- By earning 45 minutes against Australia, Marcus Hahnemann made his first appearance for the U.S. since Oct. 17, 2007, a 1-0 win in Switzerland. Hahnemann holds the record for the longest layoff between caps for the United States, with an eight-year, five-month, 28-day break between games from Nov. 19, 1994 to June 8, 2003.
- With their goals on May 25 against Czech Republic, Edu and Gomez became the first pair of U.S. players to get their first goal in the same game since Stuart Holden and Robbie Rogers tallied in the 4-1 win against Grenada on July 4, 2009, to open the 2009 Gold Cup.
- Gomez made the World Cup team after appearing in just two matches before coming on at halftime against the Czech Republic to earn his third cap.
- Five of the seven defenders on the roster have at least one goal for the national team: Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Cherundolo, Goodson, and Onyewu. Three of those tallied in 2009, and all of them memorable. Bocanegra's game-winning header against Honduras in Chicago; Goodson performing the same feat against the same team in the same stadium in the Gold Cup; and Bornstein capping off qualifying with a last-second header against Costa Rica.
- With his goal against the Netherlands on March 3 in Amsterdam, Bocanegra upped his career tally to 12, just one shy of the mark set by Marcelo Balboa for U.S. defenders.
- Two players on the U.S. roster - Edu and Beasley - come from Scottish Premier League Champion Glasgow Rangers, which clinched its second title in a row.
- Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has recorded five shutouts in 14 appearances for the U.S., including three clean sheets in five World Cup qualifiers. Overall he has posted a 7-4-1 record.
- Only two players on the U.S. World Cup team made their first U.S. appearance for Bradley within the last year. Holden debuted on July 4, 2009, with an Independence Day goal in the Gold Cup, and Buddle in the match against Czech.
Here is another great clip from Studio 90, this one about the journey of Jay DeMerit to pro soccer:
OK that is it for now, get your US gear on and enjoy the match.
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