U.S. Ready to Continue World Cup Against Slovenia
The U.S. Men's National Team looks to continue their 2010 FIFA World Cup against Slovenia on Friday, June 18 in their second game of the tournament.
June 17, 2010
U.S. Men's National Team vs. Slovenia
Johannesburg, South Africa
2010 FIFA World Cup
June 18, 2010
RESULT REQUIRED: After sharing the spoils from the opening match against England, the U.S. confronts the match which has been considered for months to be a likely pivotal encounter against Slovenia. The picture is fairly clear going in: a win would give the United States one foot in the door to the knockout phase, a tie keeps the hopes alive, and a loss would nearly close the window on any chances of advancing. They face a Slovenia team brimming with confidence after its 1-0 win against Algeria put them on top of Group C and knowing a victory Friday would guarantee a first ever trip to the second round. Kickoff at Ellis Park is set for 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN and Univision. Fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and twitter.com/ussoccer.
- Tournament rules provide that all 23 players will dress for FIFA World Cup matches. Drawn as Team ‘B’ for the game, the U.S. will once again wear the all-blue Nike away strip, while Slovenia will sport all white. The maximum number of substitutions will be three.
- All 23 players on the U.S. team are fit and available for selection. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard has continued to improve after being kicked in the ribs in the first half of the 1-1 draw against England.
- Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit and Robbie Findley all carry a caution into Friday’s match. Another caution received prior to the quarterfinal round will result in a one-match suspension. Aleksandar Radosavljevic and Andrej Komac are in a similar situation for Slovenia.
- The U.S. and Slovenia have never met at the international level. The European nation of just more than two million is participating in its second World Cup after debuting eight years ago at Korea/Japan in 2002, and leads Group C after a 1-0 victory against Algeria in its opening match.
- This will be the USA’s third visit to Ellis Park, having played there previously in the 2007 Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup final against Brazil.
- Six players in the USA's starting line-up against England made their World Cup debut: Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, DeMerit, Findley, and Howard. Edson Buddle and Stuart Holden also earned their first appearance in World Cup match when they entered as reserves.
- Landon Donovan collected his ninth World Cup cap, third on the USA’s all-time list and two shy of the U.S. record shared by Cobi Jones and Earnie Stewart.
- Howard earned Budweiser Man of the Match honors for his six-save performance against England.
- With his game-tying goal, Clint Dempsey joined former U.S. forward Brian McBride as the only players in team history to score in two different FIFA World Cup tournaments. He now has 19 career tallies, good for sole possession of sixth place on the USA’s all-time list.
- Dempsey is also the second player to score in back-to-back games in the World Cup for the United States, having also tallied the team’s lone goal against Ghana in the final group game in 2006 in Germany. Bert Patenaude scored in four straight in the 1930 tournament.
- Against England, the USA’s back line of Cherundolo, DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu and captain Carlos Bocanegra took the field together for the first time since the team’s 2-1 qualifying loss to Mexico in Mexico City on August 12, 2009.
- Also that day, Onyewu turned in his first 90-minute performance since suffering a ruptured patellar tendon on Oct. 14, 2009, in the USA’s final qualifier against Costa Rica.
- Findley became the first U.S. player to start a World Cup game for the U.S. after not participating in the qualifying cycle since Pablo Mastroeni started against Portugal to open the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
- Nineteen of the 23 players on the U.S. World Cup Team appeared in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying for the U.S., although only eight appeared in at least half of the USA’s qualifiers (Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Bocanegra, Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, Howard and Onyewu).
- The U.S. squad carries a variety of World Cup experience into South Africa, as 15 players have been named to their first World Cup roster. Meantime, six players had played in a World Cup game prior to South Africa. Cherundolo, Donovan, and Beasley have earned a place in their third World Cup.
- Two players on the current roster have scored in a World Cup. Along with Dempsey’s pair, Donovan’s famous header against Mexico provided the insurance goal in the 2-0 victory in the Round of 16 on June 17, 2002, in Jeonju, Korea Republic, putting the U.S. through to the quarterfinals for the first time in 72 years.
- Sixteen players on the roster have scored at least one international goal, and seven have scored in 2010: Altidore, Bocanegra, Buddle, Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Herculez Gomez, and Clarence Goodson.
- Buddle became the most recent debutante on a U.S. scoresheet, netting a pair in the USA’s 3-1 win against Australia on June 5 in Roodepoort. He is the first player to score his first two goals in the same game since Sacha Kljestan posted a hat trick on Jan. 20, 2008, against Sweden.
- With the goal on May 29 against Turkey, Altidore increased his career total to nine goals. Remarkably, five of those goals have been assisted by Donovan.
- Donovan’s assist against Australia increased his record-setting total to 45 for his career.
- Dempsey became one of only a handful of U.S. players to receive recognition from FIFA when he earned the Bronze Ball at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup after scoring goals against Egypt, Spain and Brazil.
- Howard also picked up honors in that tournament, collecting the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper. Howard finished the 2010 qualifying cycle with six clean sheets in 13 appearances and a 0.92 goals against average.
- Howard hit his silver anniversary in caps after starting on May 29 against Turkey, completing his first 50 caps with 30 victories and 19 shutouts. José Torres also hit a milestone, reaching double-digit caps in perhaps his finest performance for the national team.
- By earning 45 minutes against Australia, Marcus Hahnemann made his first appearance for the U.S. since Oct. 17, 2007, a 1-0 win in Switzerland. Hahnemann holds the record for the longest layoff between caps for the United States, with an eight-year, five-month, 28-day break between games from Nov. 19, 1994 to June 8, 2003.
- With their goals on May 25 against Czech Republic, Edu and Gomez became the first pair of U.S. players to get their first goal in the same game since Stuart Holden and Robbie Rogers tallied in the 4-1 win against Grenada on July 4, 2009, to open the 2009 Gold Cup.
- Gomez made the World Cup team after appearing in just two matches before coming on at halftime against the Czech Republic to earn his third cap.
- Five of the seven defenders on the roster have at least one goal for the national team: Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Cherundolo, Goodson, and Onyewu. Three of those tallied in 2009, and all of them memorable. Bocanegra’s game-winning header against Honduras in Chicago; Goodson performing the same feat against the same team in the same stadium in the Gold Cup; and Bornstein capping off qualifying with a last-second header against Costa Rica.
- With his goal against the Netherlands on March 3 in Amsterdam, Bocanegra upped his career tally to 12, just one shy of the mark set by Marcelo Balboa for U.S. defenders.
- Two players on the U.S. roster - Edu and Beasley - come from Scottish Premier League Champion Glasgow Rangers, which clinched its second title in a row.
- Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has recorded five shutouts in 14 appearances for the U.S., including three clean sheets in five World Cup qualifiers. Overall he has posted a 7-4-1 record.
- Only two players on the U.S. World Cup team made their first U.S. appearance for Bradley within the last year. Holden debuted on July 4, 2009, with an Independence Day goal in the Gold Cup, and Buddle in the match against Czech.
|Average Age: 26.9||Average Caps: 34.9|
|Most Caps: 124 (Landon Donovan)||Fewest Caps: 4 (Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez)|
|Oldest: 37 (Marcus Hahnemann)||Youngest: 20 (Jozy Altidore)|
Play professionally in: England (7), USA (4), Germany (3), Mexico (2), Scotland (2), Denmark (1), France (1), Italy (1), Norway (1), Spain (1)
Hometown in: California (7), Texas (3), Illinois (2), Arizona (1), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Indiana (1), Maryland (1), Nevada (1), New Jersey (1), New York (1), Virginia (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (1)
USA IN THE WORLD CUP: The U.S. is competing in their ninth World Cup finals tournament since participating in the inaugural event in 1930 where they finished as semifinalists, defeating Belgium in their first match. Some other facts:
Matches played: 26
Best finish: Semifinals (1930)
Highest margin in win 3-0 (vs.Belgium, Paraguay in 1930)
Biggest defeat: 1-7 (vs. Italy in 1934)
Most matches, player: 11 (Earnie Stewart, Cobi Jones)
Most goals, career: 4 (Bert Patenaude)
USA’s MARKS ON WORLD CUP HISTORY:
- The first hat trick in World Cup history was recorded by Bert Patenaude, who scored three times in the 3-0 victory against Paraguay on July 17, 1930.
- Brad Friedel is only one of two goalkeepers – joining Poland’s Jan Tomaszewski – to save two penalties in one tournament.
- The U.S. is the only CONCACAF team to reach the semifinals of the tournament, achieving that feat in the 1930 event before losing to Argentina.
Group C Standings
June 12 Venue Goal Scorer(s)
England 1, USA 1 Rustenburg Gerrard (ENG) 4, Dempsey (USA) 40
Algeria 0, Slovenia 1 Polokwane Koren (SVN) 79
Slovenia v. USA Johannesburg
England v. Algeria Capetown
USA v. Algeria Tshawne/Pretoria
Slovenia v. England Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth
DID YOU KNOW?
- Landon Donovan is the fifth most capped player in the tournament. Rigoberto Song (Cameroon) and Amado Guevara are tied for first with 137 caps.
- Marcus Hahnemann is the third-oldest player in the tournament. England’s David James at 39 years and 314 days is the elder statesman.
- At 217 pounds, Hahnemann is listed as the heaviest player in the tournament.
- Steve Cherundolo and José Torres are tied with six others as the fourth shortest in the tournament.
- Three of the USA’s six all-time victories in the World Cup have come against teams from Europe (Belgium 1930, England 1950, Portugal 2002).
FIRST ROUND FACTS: The first 16 matches of the tournament produced a few numbers worthy of any stats geek:
484 - Switzerland's 1-0 victory against tournament favorites Spain extended their shutout streak in World Cup play to 484 minutes and a record-tying five games. If you recall, Switzerland claimed a rather bizarre record in 2006 by becoming the first team ever to be eliminated from the World Cup without conceding a goal. A goalless draw against France followed by consecutive 2-0 victories against Togo and Korea Republic put the Swiss into the Round of 16, where they fell to Ukraine in penalties after a 0-0 draw in regulation and extra time.
48 - years to the day since Chile's last victory in the FIFA World Cup. The South Americans had gone into their meeting with Honduras with the competition's longest-running active winless streak, having failed to gain three points on 13 occasions since beating Yugoslavia 1-0 on June 16, 1962.
24 - the number of goals and goalscorers after the first round of matches in the World Cup, marking the first-time ever that no player had scored twice through the opening games of group play.
THEY SAID IT: "We saw how the Americans played against Spain with a lot of interest. You know that if you are going to have a chance against [the Spanish] you need to do certain things very well. The USA did not try to do everything. They accepted the fact that Spain has pace and width and simply made sure they kept the center of defense as tight as they could. It is not a perfect system, but it was a very interesting tactic and it worked." Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, discussing his study of the USA’s 2-0 victory against Spain in the Confederations Cup prior to his own team’s 1-0 upset victory against Spain on Thursday.
REFEREE KOMAN COULIBALY: The referee for USA-Slovenia will be a familiar face to those who follow the U.S. Under-17 National Team, the Mali native having run the center for U.S. matches in the previous two U-17 FIFA World Cups. In 2007, he presided over the shock 4-3 loss to Tajikistan in the team’s opening match, then two years later it was happier times for the USA as their 1-0 victory against UAE put them through to the knockout phase. Coulibaly has refereed in five African Cup of Nations tournaments, centering the final in 2009 between Ghana and Egypt.
SOUTH AFRICAN EXPERIENCE: Fifteen players on the roster have played at least one match on South African soil between the 2007 Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, several putting their name on the scoresheet. The U.S. faced South Africa on Nov. 17, 2007, at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, winning the Cup after a 1-0 victory on the strength of Steve Cherundolo’s second career international goal. That matched also marked the debut of Altidore for the full team. During the Confederations Cup, Dempsey netted in three consecutive matches, including the game-winner against then No. 1-ranked Spain in the semis and the first goal in the final against Brazil. Donovan collected a pair himself, finishing off a beautiful counter against the Brazilians to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Michael Bradley tallied against Egypt, and Altidore scored the first against Spain.
UBUNTU: The U.S. team has adopted the African concept of Ubuntu as their motto for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Ubuntu refers to the interconnectedness of all human beings, that we are all part of a greater community and that we cannot succeed without the help of others, and they cannot succeed without us. Loosely translated, the word Ubuntu means ‘I am because you are.’ Only together can we prosper. This is the essence of what it means to be a team. U.S. Soccer has produced team pins and coins that the players will distribute throughout the tournament symbolizing the spirit of this idea.
ON THE MEND: Several players on the final 23-man roster are returning from injuries of varying length and degree. Oguchi Onyewu has played in three consecutive competitive matches since rupturing a patellar tendon on Oct. 14, 2009, against Costa Rica in the USA’s final qualifier. Jay DeMerit missed his club’s final two matches with an abdominal strain, while Carlos Bocanegra underwent a procedure on May 5 to repair a sports hernia. Stuart Holden played a full 90 for the first time after healing from a broken bone suffered in the March 3 friendly against the Netherlands.
DONOVAN, BEASLEY THE MOST VETERAN OF VETERANS… : A pair of 28-year-olds top the experience leader board in camp as fellow U-17 Residency founding fathers Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley are the highest cap-winners present. Donovan holds 124 caps and a record-setting 42 goals and 45 assists, contributing to 12 of the USA’s 19 goals in the final round of World Cup qualifying. Beasley earned his 92nd cap against Australia and is the next active player in line to earn his 100th cap. If he does, he would join an elite group of just 11 men to play 100 times for the United States.
… WHILE BUDDLE AND GOMEZ ARE HAPPY TO BE BACK: Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez are the newcomers to the group, holding just four caps each. Their recent goal-scoring form in Major League Soccer and the Mexican First Division, respectively, certainly played major roles in their selections to the World Cup Team. On a tear for the Los Angeles Galaxy with nine goals in nine games, Buddle made his previous only appearance for the U.S. in 2003, playing the final 11 minutes on March 29 against Venezuela. Meantime south of the border, Gomez struck for 10 goals for Puebla to become the first U.S. player to lead a foreign league in scoring. Gomez has played four times for the U.S., twice in the 2007 Copa America tournament and of course when he came off the bench to score a goal against the Czech Republic.
PREPPING IN PRETORIA: The U.S. team is training on familiar ground in Pretoria, utilizing the same Pilditch Stadium ground they occupied during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. About a 25-minute ride from the team hotel, the facility is normally used primarily for athletics. The groundskeepers have done a fantastic job getting the pitch in great condition for the rigors of daily use.
GETTING THE CALL: With the roster having been scheduled to be announced May 26 live on ESPN, there was a quick turnaround to make final decisions following the game against the Czech Republic which ended around 10 p.m. ET on the evening of May 25. The coaches met for nearly two hours after arriving back at the team hotel, and players were asked to remain available. In what would clearly be the longest couple of hours of their careers, the players chosen for the roster were called to a team meeting at 2 a.m. when they received the official news of their selection for the World Cup roster.
QUITE THE TOUR: The team experienced one of the most memorable 24 hours in national team history between May 26-27, and the MNT blog was right there to record the action. First, the newly minted 2010 U.S. World Cup team traveled to the campus of ESPN for their official unveiling live on the daytime edition of SportsCenter, then jetted to the airport for a charter flight to Washington, D.C. After a private team dinner at the Newseum, the group got geared up for an official visit to the White House. Greeted by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Bill Clinton, the team took photos before being led on an impromptu tour of the West Wing that included a stroll through the Rose Garden, a look in the Oval Office, a gathering in the Roosevelt Room, and finally a sit-down in the office of the Vice President.
PRINCETON PREP: The U.S. team spent the first week of camp training at Princeton University in New Jersey where U.S. head coach Bob Bradley ran the team through an excellent week that focused mostly on fitness. There was one day of inclement weather, but otherwise the U.S. camp was extremely smooth and productive as several players worked through their final stages of rehabilitation to overcome injuries.
NEW AWAY JERSEYS MAKE WORLD CUP DEBUT: The new away jersey made its World Cup debut against England as the U.S. wore the navy kit in 1-1 draw. The away jersey is navy with a white sash and white trim on the round neck collar and a touch of red on the sleeves, while the home jersey is traditional white with a shadow-like gray sash, navy trim on the round neck collar and a touch of red on the sleeves. Designed by Nike with the national culture and identity of the U.S. in mind, the jersey echoes the uniform worn by the U.S. Men’s National Team during the 1950 FIFA World Cup in which they defeated England 1-0 in one of the biggest upsets in the history of soccer. The replica jerseys are available to fans now at ussoccerstore.com. The jersey is entirely constructed with recycled polyester fabric from plastic bottles and features materials to stay cool as well as Dri-Fit moisture control. The U.S. Soccer crest is embroidered over the heart.
CHAMPIONS AGAIN: The U.S. Men's National Team finished atop the FIFA World Cup qualifying Final Round standings in CONCACAF for the second consecutive cycle, besting Mexico by one point. Jonathan Bornstein's stoppage-time goal with only seconds remaining leveled the score in the final qualifying match with Costa Rica on Oct. 14 in Washington, D.C., the 2-2 draw giving the USA the vital point it needed. The result at RFK Stadium, coupled with Mexico's draw by the same score with Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain, kept the U.S. first with El Tri second. The late drama in the nation's capital served to shake up third and fourth spot in the standings as well, with Honduras the beneficiary. Los Catrachos won on the road in El Salvador (the first time in the final round the visitors won in San Salvador) and leapfrogged Costa Rica to claim the third and final automatic berth to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
|Trinidad & Tobago||10||1||6||3||10||22||-12||6|
* qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup
GOLDEN BOOT WINNERS IN QUALIFYING: The U.S. scored more goals than any other nation in the world in 2010 World Cup qualifying, bagging 42 goals in 18 games.
ON TO THE NEXT CHAPTER: Since January of 2007 it has been the charge of U.S. head coach Bob Bradley to achieve the most important goal of any soccer playing nation: qualification for the FIFA World Cup. With 60 games under his belt, seeing 92 different players at least once and the process of reaching South Africa in 2010 complete, a review of the body of work during the past nearly-three years points to the U.S. clearly heading in the right direction. Bradley’s 31 victories in 50 games outdistanced his predecessor Bruce Arena, who had collected 25 victories at that point in his tenure. Since the start of the four-year cycle, the U.S. has:
- Produced the best finish ever at a FIFA tournament, finishing second at the FIFA Confederations Cup.
- Finished in first place in CONCACAF qualifying, collecting the most road wins of any team in the region during the campaign while going unbeaten at home in nine matches.
- Won six straight FIFA World Cup qualifiers in a row in 2008, a new team record (June 15-Oct. 15).
- Won the CONCACAF Gold Cup title in 2007 to qualify for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
- Won by the largest margin of victory in U.S. World Cup qualifying history (8-0 vs. Barbados on June 15, 2008).
- Won three straight matches on the road for the first time in team history (Oct. 17, 2007 @ Switzerland, Nov. 17, 2007 @ South Africa and March 26, 2008 @ Poland).
- Played seven matches against four teams ranked in the top five in the world at the time they stepped on the field against them (Argentina, Brazil-3, Italy, Spain-2).
- Played matches on four continents.
- Posted a 1-1-1 record against No. 1-ranked teams, including a semifinal upset of Spain at the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Gold Cup: 10-1-1
Goals For: 116
Goals Against: 76
Record vs. …
CONCACAF: 25-5-5, 74 GF, 33 GA
CONMEBOL: 1-6-1, 9 GF, 19 GA
UEFA: 7-8-1, 22 GF, 22 GA
AFC: 2-0-0, 7 GF, 2 GA
CAF: 2-0-0, 4 GF, 0 GA
Record when …
Leading at half: 21-3-2
Losing at half: 3-7-2
Tied at half: 12-9-3
By year …
ELITE GROUP: Here is a look at the 32 teams from around the world who will be participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa:
Host Country: South Africa
AFC – Asia (43 teams, 4.5 berths): Australia, Japan, Korea DPR, Korea Republic
CAF – Africa (53 teams, 5 berths): Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria
CONCACAF – North America, Central America, Caribbean (35 teams, 3.5 berths): Honduras, Mexico, USA
CONMEBOL – South America (10 teams, 4.5 berths): Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay
OFC (10 teams, .5 berths) – New Zealand
UEFA – Europe (53 teams, 13 berths): Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland
Of these teams, only the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain and Korea Republic have participated in all six World Cups since 1990.
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: Keep up with all U.S. Men’s National Team news (in short form, of course) by following at www.twitter.com/ussoccer. Get news, updates and your questions in for Studio 90 at http://twitter.com/studio_90.
SPECIAL OLYMPICS UNITY CUP: The members of the U.S. Men's National Team are not the only athletes representing their country in South Africa this Summer as American Matthew Millett is set to participate in the inaugural Special Olympics Unity Cup in Cape Town. Millett, along with 15 other Special Olympics athletes from around the world, will play in a match on July 3rd alongside soccer legends and celebrities in Cape Town's fabulous Green Point stadium, site of a quarterfinal match for the 2010 FIA World Cup. Millett visited the team before leaving for South Africa as he was getting ready to represent the USA and 3.5 million Special Olympics athletes worldwide. The Unity Cup will serve as a leading example of the power of Special Olympics Unified Sports, with the goal of the match to support the mission of inclusion and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities. To learn more about the Special Olympics Unity Cup please visit www.specialolympics.org/unitycup.
BE OFFICIAL WHEN YOU’RE WATCHING: What’s the next best thing to being at a game surrounded by your fellow screaming fans? Watching a game at an Official U.S. Soccer Bar surrounded by your fellow screaming fans! Bars across the U.S. are becoming the destination spots to gather and watch your U.S. teams in an atmosphere that is loud and rowdy. Take the morning off and enjoy breakfast on the town with other U.S. fans and watch the U.S. take on Slovenia this Friday! A full list of Official U.S. Soccer Bars is available at ussoccer.com.
U.S. SOCCER ON FACEBOOK: U.S. Soccer is offering a new way to follow its teams with the “Official U.S. Soccer Page” on Facebook. Visit the page to post videos, interact with other fans and follow the latest news from all U.S. Soccer teams. The Official U.S. Soccer Page on Facebook is the best place to keep with your favorite teams and make your voice heard in the U.S. Soccer community.
QUEST TO TOP THE GOAL! LEADERBOARD: Show your support for the USA in our quest to top the Popularity chart on the Facebook Goal! Leaderboard. U.S. Soccer is asking all fans to post the link on your wall and share with your friends to help the raise the U.S. flag to the top of the leaderboard. Show your passion as the Men's National Team heads to South Africa!
THE GAME IS IN US: Support for the United States' bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022 has picked up some serious steam since the launch of http://gousabid.com. Twelve other nations are bidding to host at least one of the tournaments and if we're going to win the honor of hosting the FIFA World Cup™, it'll be because of the overwhelming grassroots support of soccer fans who believe in our bid's official theme, The Game Is In US. Please take a moment to sign the petition to officially show your support for the US bid to bring the World Cup™ back to America.
IN FOCUS: SLOVENIA
SLOVENIA FACT FILE
Nogometna Zveza Slovenue
Founded: 1920 (Joined FIFA in 1992)
Head Coach: Matjaž Kek (Slovenia)
Current FIFA Ranking: 25
Best World Cup Finish: Group Stage (2002)
Best European Championship Finish: First Round (2000)
Caps Leader: Zlatko Zahovič (80)
Top Scorer: Zlatko Zahovič (35)
Key Players: Robert Koren, Milivoje Novakovic, Samir Handanovic
SLOVENIAN SURPRISE: When one looked through the list of candidates to qualify for the World Cup from UEFA Group Three, certainly the names Czech Republic and Poland sprang to the top of the list. But after Slovakia snatched the top spot on the final matchday, it was the nation of two million that got the chance for a play-off against the mighty Russians thanks to a stodgy defense that allowed only four goals in 10 group matches. Still, it was Guus Hiddink’s men who again had the oddsmakers stirring, but Slovenia rose to the challenge to proceed to their second World Cup since becoming an independent nation in 1992.
TRIO TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Slovenia head coach Matjaž Kek leads a group heralded more for its collective effort than any individual stars. Nonetheless, there are several players who have impressed, led by Cologne-based striker Milivoje Novakovic, who scored five times during qualifying. Team captain Robert Koren roams the center of the park and is a scoring threat in his own right, having tallied the goal in the 1-0 win against Algeria. Marshalling the defense is goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, whose clean sheet tally in qualifying is a testament to his readiness for the best that international competition has to offer.
MEET MATJAZ KEK: A player with three league titles and one international cap to his credit, Matjaž Kek began his coaching career at Maribor. After a six-year stint, Kek moved on to the Football Association of Slovenia in 2006, initially taking charge of the national U-15 and U-16 team before being promoted to the full team in January of 2007.
ONCE BEFORE: Slovenia first joined the world stage in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, getting past teams like Switzerland and former compatriots Yugoslavia to qualify. Three straight losses didn’t diminish the achievement; rather, it inspired the nation to continue its progress on their footballing journey.
On the field for USA
June 12, 2010 – Royal Bafokeng Stadium – Rustenburg, South Africa – 2010 FIFA World Cup
England 1 Steven Gerrard 4
USA 1 Clint Dempsey 40
ENG: 12-Robert Green; 2-Glen Johnson, 6-John Terry, 20-Ledley King (18-Jamie Carragher, 46), 3-Ashley Cole; 7-Aaron Lennon, 8-Frank Lampard, 4-Steven Gerrard (capt.), 16-James Milner (17-Shaun Wright-Phillips, 31); 10-Wayne Rooney, 21-Emile Heskey (9-Peter Crouch, 79)
Subs not used: 1-David James, 5-Michael Dawson, 11-Joe Cole, 13-Stephen Warnock, 14-Gareth Barry, 15-Matthew Upson, 19-Jermain Defoe, 22-Michael Carrick, 23-Joe Hart
Head Coach: Fabio Capello
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 15-Jay DeMerit, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.); 10-Landon Donovan,13 -Ricardo Clark, 4-Michael Bradley, 8-Clint Dempsey; 20-Robbie Findley (14-Edson Buddle, 77), 17-Jozy Altidore (11-Stuart Holden, 86)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 9-Herculez Gomez, 12-Jonathan Bornstein, 16-Jose Torres, 18-Brad Guzan, 19-Maurice Edu, 21-Clarence Goodson, 22-Benny Feilhaber, 23-Marcus Hahnemann
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
On the field for Slovenia
June 13, 2010 – Peter Mokaba Stadium – Polokwane, South Africa – 2010 FIFA World Cup
Slovenia 1 Robert Koren 79
ALG: 16-Faouzi Chaouchi; 2-Madjid Bougherra, 3-Nadir Belhadj, 4-Anther Yahia, 5-Rafik Djebbour; 8-Medhi Lacen, 13-Karim Matmour (10-Rafik Saifi, 81), 15-Karim Ziani, 19-Hassan Yebda, 21-Foued Kadir (17-Adlane Guedioura, 82); 11-Rafik Djebbour (9-Abdelkader Ghezzal, 58)
Subs not used: 1-Lounes Gaouaoui, 23-Rais M. Bolhi; 6-Yazid Mansouri, 7-Ryad Boudebouz, 12-Habib Bellaid, 14-Abdelkader Laifaoui, 18-Carl Medjani, 20-Djamel Mesbah, 22-Djamal Abdoun
Head Coach: Rabah Saadane
SVN: 1-Samir Handanovic; 2-Miso Brecko, 4-Marko Suler, 5-Bostjan Cesar, 13-Bojan Jokic; 8-Robert Koren, 10-Valter Birsa (7-Nejc Pecnik, 84), 17-Andraz Kirm, 18-Aleksandar Radosavljevic (20-Andrej Komac, 87); 11-Milivoje Novakovic, 14-Zlatko Dedic (9-Zlatan Ljubijankic, 53)
Subs not used: 12-Jasmin Handanovic, 16-Aleksander Seliga; 3-Elvedin Dzinic, 6-Branko Ilic, 15-Rene Krhin, 19-Suad Filekovic, 21-Dalibor Stevanovic, 22-Matej Mavric, 23-Tim Matavz
Head Coach: Matjaz Kek