The United States will face a tough challenge in their FIFA World Cup opener against England in Rustenburg, South Africa on Saturday. Not many expect them to repeat their famous performance at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil when they defeated England 1-0, but a tie is thought to be a welcome result. They may hope to remain in the tournament even in case of a defeat, if the margin is low. The U.S. is placed in Group C along with England, Slovenia and Algeria.
The Team was eliminated in the first round in their previous World Cup outing in 2006 in Germany. So advancing to the Round of 16 would be the minimum target, a fact echoed by Landon Donovan a star player of the team.
The target is not unachievable considering the facelift that Coach Bob Bradley has given the team after their 2006 debacle. During this period, an increasing number of American players joined and played in European or Mexican club, substantially expanding the talent pool. The coach has selected the 19-member American squad entirely from such players.
Even though they start off as underdogs in the tournament, the players are upbeat and believe that they can win just any game.
If television viewership is any indication, soccer is getting increasing popular in the U.S. in recent times. The country ranked eighth among countries viewing FIFA World Cup in 2006, according to a U.K. based analysis firm. It was ranked 13th in 2002 and 23rd in 1998, showing a steady growth.