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USA - Ambitious outsiders
After their last place finish in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the United States needed an infusion of youth. The country turned to Manager Bruce Arena, the most successful coach in the US soccer. Arena has won everything from college to MLS titles and even earned a cap for the USA as a goalkeeper.
Arena started to bring in players from all over the world, and since taking over the managerial reins has given over 20 players their first cap. The team can alternate between a 4-4-2 and a 3-5-2 formation, depending on their opponent, but with a flagrant lack of speed in the back line it is becoming more apparent that the USA will need to stick to a flat back four.
The team has traditionally been strong defensively, bolstered by two proficient goalkeepers in Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel, and to complement this, the red, white, and blue has finally found some consistent midfield and forward play. This improvement is in no small way due to midfielder and captain Claudio Reyna and winger Earnie Stewart - the US' leading scorer in the qualifiers with eight goals. Both ply their trade in Europe, Reyna with Glasgow Rangers and Stewart with Netherlands outfit NAC Breda. ying for the USA with 9 goals.
Significant past players:
Ricky Davis, John Harkes, Bart McGhee, Bert Patenaude
-- Semi-final 1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay
-- Champion 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup
-- Runner-up 1993 CONCACAF Gold Cup
-- 3rd 1999 FIFA Confederations' Cup Mexico
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