Bocanegra: Focus is on beating smaller sides

IRENE - The United States need to avoid their usual habit of dropping points against the lesser fancied teams if they are to prove themselves as genuine World Cup contenders, two of the side's senior players say.

Captain Carlos Bocanegra said that after the 1-1 draw with group favourites England his side would have to maintain the same level of intensity when they play Slovenia despite the likely drop off in hype and anticipation.

"For us to keep raising the bar, to take the next step, we need to be consistently at the same level whether it's against England, Italy or whoever," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"We've got to be consistent. We need to keep the intensity up in maybe a game that's not going to be as hyped up all around the world as our opening match was."

The U.S. showed composure to come back against England from an early Steven Gerrard goal to clinch a draw after a goalkeeping error from Robert Green, and the captain said they would need to maintain that standard.

In the German World Cup in 2006, the U.S. failed to make it out of the group stages - losing to Ghana after a creditable draw with eventual winners Italy.

Four years earlier, in Japan and South Korea, the U.S beat Portugal in their opening group game but then drew with South Korea and lost to Poland.

The defender said they would be focused, given that Slovenia had won their opening game in South Africa, meaning that a U.S. loss in the next match on Friday could well end their hopes.

Midfielder Landon Donovan said he thought the team was now more mature and should avoid such mistakes.

"In our locker room, it was not like we were popping champagne after the game," he told a small group of reporters.

"Guys were satisfied with the point but no one was ecstatic. We haven't always done well coming off a good result and continuing that and so I think that was part of the feeling.

"I've always said, especially after last year, that we can compete with any team in the world and we believe that. What makes teams great is (doing) it 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 times in a row and we haven't proven that we can do that yet."

Both players said they expected Slovenia to play in a similar style to the U.S., staying compact and looking to break on the counterattack.

"The biggest thing for us is that if we do have a lot of possession not to get too excited and open ourselves up," Bocanegra said. "We have to push the game in a smart way."

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