Preview: US football reached a new height when the North American squad reached the quarterfinals in 2002.  This year's team is more experienced and entering the tournament in good form.  Consequently, expectations are higher.  Captain and star forward Landon Donovan seems surprisingly unperturbed by the pressure to perform at this year's competition, "I'm more excited just to take advantage of the whole World Cup.  I just don't think about any pressure, this is fun."  Indeed, it should be a lot of fun as team USA is sandwiched between Italy and Czech Republic in what is probably the toughest first round group of the tournament.

If not for their tough draw, the US team would be expected to advance far in the tournament.  The squad is anchored by Donovan and veterans Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride.  Goaltending has been the strength of US soccer in recent past, with Kasey Keller and Tim Howard on the roster.  Flashy midfielder and 2004 MLS Rookie of the Year Clint Dempsey has a chance to make a a name for himself at the world stage.  All of this could be negated by the difficulty of Group E.

Result: United States suffered a difficult and disappointing outing in the 2006 World Cup.  A first game blowout against the Czechs was partially atoned by a capable draw against Italy, however the US failed to beat Ghana, finishing a disappointing last in their group.

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