U.S assistant coach Mike Sorber said three points on Friday would put the team in a good position to advance to the second round of the 2010 World Cup.
“A win in the next game will be ideal,” Sorber said during a brief interview outside Soccer City Stadium, where he was attending the Netherlands-Denmark game on Monday. “Playing well and getting a good results. Two wins would be ideal.”
U.S players have said that progressing beyond the opening round is essential for a successful World Cup. In 2006, the U.S. side opened the tournament with a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic, scored one goal in three matches and finished last in its group.
South Africa has been a kind venue to the U.S. over the past four years. The Americans beat South Africa in a warm-up several years ago and followed that up with a Confederation Cup final appearance last year.
On Monday, the U.S. squad had the day off. Coach Bob Bradley is preparing his team for a crucial fixture against group leaders Slovenia, who earned three points with a 1-0 win against 10-man Algeria on Sunday.
The Americans were buoyed by a draw against group C favorite England at Rustenburg on Saturday after English goalkeeper Robert Green’s first-half blunder allowed Clint Dempsey’s equalizer. England captain Steven Gerrard put his team ahead after four minutes.
Sorber said the encounter was a good, hard-fought, back-and-forth game. Coming from behind showed the Americans’ toughness, he said.
“Mentally, we were strong and we stuck with the game plan,” he said. “In the end, it worked out for us.”
During the first half England forward Emile Heskey slid into U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard boot first. Howard reportedly received a cortisone shot for pain to his ribs at halftime. Sorber said the collision left Howard with marks and bruises, but the U.S. man of the match from game one is expected to play against Slovenia. “He’s going to be OK,” Sorber said. The United States plays Slovenia at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg Friday, while England plays Algeria at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.