USA need to kick early goal habit

JOHANNESBURG - The United States know a win against Algeria will earn them a place in the second round of the World Cup but they must kick the habit of giving up early leads.

On Friday, the U.S conceded after 13 minutes and were 2-0 at the break against Slovenia before a rousing comeback gave them a 2-2 draw and almost a famous victory.

Last week against England, the Americans trailed after just four minutes to a Steven Gerrard goal before battling back for a point but getting a result the hard way is something Bob Bradley's side have turned into an art form.

In their final qualifying group for the World Cup, the U.S conceded the first goal in six out of ten games but only lost one of those encounters.

The U.S conceded first home and away to El Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras but still finished top of the qualifying group.

A timely reminder of their tendency to start poorly came just before the World Cup when Bradley's team trailed 1-0 at home to Turkey before rallying after the break.

The U.S coach was somewhat nonplussed by his team's slow start against the Slovenes.

"When you coach soccer it is always weird in that you can take the initiative of attacking a hundred times but not be able to always score first," he said.

Midfielder Landon Donovan was more pertinent in his evaluation of the start the team made.

"We started the match poorly. We were tentative; I think we sat too deep which caused us problems. At that point you have no choice but to push the game," he said.

"It's easy in hindsight to say we need to start that way, but we do need to start games that way. Especially going into our third game, we have no choice but to win if we want to advance so that's the way we're going to have to play."

Keeper Tim Howard said that while the comeback was spirited, it is time the team played without the need for a revival.

"We seem to play better when we're behind and that's all got to change. I think a lot of teams play better when they're emotional. Sometimes it's about throwing the game plan out the window and standing toe to toe with the next guy and winning your battles," he said.

The approach certainly makes for exciting viewing and Donovan said it showed the character of the team.

"That is what the American spirit is about and I'm sure people back home are proud of that," he said.

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