Factbox on World Cup qualifiers United States: World Cup record:
Previous appearances in finals: Eight
Best performance: Third place in 1930
Coach: Bob Bradley
After coaching three teams in Major League Soccer and then moving to the U.S. under-23s, Bradley was given the job when Bruce Arena left after the 2006 World Cup. Guided the side to victory in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and they were runners-up at the 2009 Confederations Cup where the team pulled off a major upset by beating Spain in the semi-finals.
Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) Age: 27. Forward
Long considered the leading American player, Donovan failed to spark in the 2006 finals and has a habit of fading in big games, a reputation he will want to put to bed in South Africa. Often used on the flank, he can provide the creative influence. His form will be important to U.S. fortunes.
Clint Dempsey (Fulham) Age: 26. Forward
Dempsey can play on either flank and as a central striker, bringing grit and aggression to the side but also a lack of consistency that showed itself during qualification. Excelled at the Confederations Cup.
Tim Howard (Everton) Age: 30. Goalkeeper
While several members of the U.S. squad play in England and other leading European leagues, few are as established as Howard. He marshalls the defence and is not afraid to raise his voice.
FIFA world ranking November 2009: 14
How they qualified:
Having eased through the first qualifying phase, Bradley's side got the final stage off to a perfect start with a 2-0 home victory over closest rivals Mexico. Although the Mexicans gained revenge at the Azteca Stadium, winning 2-1, United States finished top of the six-team group largely thanks to a 3-2 triumph in Honduras.
Prospects: Confidence was high after the Confederations Cup but injuries to key defender Oguchi Onyewu and car-crash victim Charlie Davies have weakened the side. Bradley needs all his key men on top form to make an impact in South Africa.comments