USA wary of England set-piece threat

IRENE, South Africa - England manager Fabio Capello has drilled home the message to his team that set-pieces can be the difference between winning and losing at the World Cup and the United States have clearly taken note.

With free-kick specialists Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, the always-dangerous Wayne Rooney and the aerial threat of Peter Crouch and skipper John Terry - Capello's team pose several threats from dead-ball positions.

U.S goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has faced those challenges on a regular basis in England's Premier League, where he plays for Everton, says it is vital his defenders limit set-piece opportunities in the World Cup opener against England on Saturday.

"I'm a firm believer in that you give away a certain amount of free kicks you'll give up a goal, without question. In modern day football, I don't know the statistics but I know it's, very high the amount of goals scored from set-pieces," he said.

"Rest assured if we give up too many live free-kicks and too many direct free kicks around the box and corner kicks we'll probably get punished for it.

"So its important that we're solid in our defending, that we're getting cover over and not leaving people isolated one on one, because that's a lot of times when fouls happen," he told reporters.

"And just being smart, sometimes you have to give away corners but hopefully they won't be needless."

Howard also said the U.S coaching staff have been warning their players against getting involved in dissent with match officials during what could be a fiery encounter between two English-speaking teams.

"Refereeing is an impossible job and emotions run high on both teams, so we've been warned to keep our emotions in check and watch our mouths.

"I'm sure we're going to try to the best of our ability to do that. I don't think it will go 100 percent as planned, but we have a lot of respect for the referees so there won't be any problems from our end," he said.

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