USA

Population: 315,000,000

Area: 9,372,600 sq km

Capital: Washington D.C.

Currency: US dollar

Federation: United States Soccer Federation founded in 1913, affiliated to FIFA in 1913.

Registered players: 4,187,000

Kit colours: White shirts, dark blue shorts, white socks all with red and blue trim

Team nickname: The Yanks

World Cup honours: semi-finalists (1930), quarter-finalists (2002), second round (1994), first round (1934, 1950, 1990, 1998, 2006)

Gold Cup: winner (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007), finalist (1989, 1993, 1998, 2009), 3rd place (1996, 2003)

How they qualified for FIFA World Cup 2014: Defeated Barbados 9-0 on aggregate in Round two of CONCACAF zone. Then finished top of Group 1 in Round 3 with 15 pts (5 wins, 0 draws, 1 defeat, 14 goals for, 3 against) ahead of Trinidad and Tobago (11 pts), Guatemala (5) and Cuba (3). Finally they finished top of their group in Round 4 with 20 pts (6 wins, 2 draws, 2 defeats, 19 goals for, 13 against) ahead of Mexico (19 pts), Honduras (16), Costa Rica (16), El Salvador (8) and Trinidad and Tobago (6)

Top clubs: Columbus Crew, DC United, Houston Dynamo, Los Angelas Galaxy

The United States have qualified for an impressive seventh straight World Cup finals and are hoping that their current coach Juergen Klinsmann is capable of breaking the status quo that plagued their side under Bob Bradley.

The German has been at the helm since July 2011 where his experience as one of Europe’s top strikers and his success in overhauling the German national set up when coaching them could pay long term dividends for the States.

Their game has become more ambitious and has become possession based under Klinsmann’s modern management techniques.

Their qualifying campaign was a runnaway success, where Costa Rica and Honduras looked hotter than traditional rivals Mexico, with Klinsmann’s charges easily winning the group that also featured Panama and Jamaica.

He was already living in California when he led Germany to third place at their own 2006 World Cup, and is credited with paving the way for the current creative era dawning in Germany’s traditionally robust football.

Motivational methods seem to be his speciality and he says he is trying to instill the confidence in his squad to expend its repertoire beyond the athletic approach it had become known for under Bob Bradley.

The USA can count on some solid old timers in the likes of Everton ‘keeper Tim Howard and striker Clint Dempsey. But Klinsmann controversially dropped striker Landon Donovan, who had played in three World Cups, scored 57 international goals and seems one of the few Americans capable of a moment of magic.

But the technical and tactical changes Klinsmann is phasing in will be seen through the fresher fraces such as Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore, 24, and Besiktas midfield general Jermaine Jones.

In defence the modern minded pair Omar Gonzalez and Fabian Johnson are ever presents and the United States had a perfect home record in qualifying, not conceding a single goal on home soil.

At the Asian World Cup in 2002 the USA made it to the quarter-finals and back in 1930 they got to the semis. More recently few eyebrows were raised when they were eliminated by Ghana at South Africa 2010 at the last-16 stage.

The United States need to be more enterprising says Klinsmann, meaning they need to set the tone in games rather than taking on others in their own style.

They won the 2013 Gold Cup with a second string side but the enthusiasm, communications and technical capabilities of this group will better equip the team to go further into the competition than is normally expected.

AFP

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