USA: World Cup 2014 team guide

Having left out Landon Donovan, Jürgen Klinsmann’s side will rely on Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore for goals in Brazil

The players

Star man

Michael Bradley’s consistent performances at the heart of midfield prove that he’s indispensable even when dad Bob is no longer the coach. Passed over for the captaincy in favour of Clint Dempsey, like him he has just returned from Europe where he most recently featured for Roma and had a brief loan spell at Aston Villa in 2011. Good for the MLS but maybe not such a good thing for the USA team.

One for the Premier League

A former Germany youth international, Bayern Munich winger Julian Green has the distinction of having made his professional debut in the Champions League. Only 18, the son of a US serviceman and a German mother speaks English with a distinct Teutonic twang and is likely to be a game-changing option from the bench.

The bad boy

Frankfurt-born Jermaine Jones is leader of the squad’s German clique. Heavily tattooed and with a playboy lifestyle, the feisty midfielder has traded blows with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar at former club Schalke, where he was exiled to train with the reserves by the manager Felix Magath.

The weakest link

Jürgen Klinsmann’s suggestion that Jozy Altidore should be playing in the Champions League will have been met with a grim chuckle at Sunderland where the highlight of the lumbering striker’s season was falling over at Stamford Bridge.

The coach

Klinsmann looks like he should be beaming from the cover of an airport paperback called something like The Power of You! He won the World Cup as a player in 1990 and reached the semi-finals as Germany coach in 2006, but the former Spurs forward with the dive-bomber celebration, who flies his own helicopter to work, has his critics. Strong on fitness but questionable on tactics, his team have been called “overtrained and undercoached”. But his motivation skills and focus on the big picture helped win him a new contract until 2018.


The USA are a hardworking, competitive team at their most dangerous on the counterattack. Far from being johnny-come-latelies to the soccerball business, the USA were semi-finalists at the first World Cup in 1930 and have qualified eight times since and finished first in qualifying. They line up in a 4-2-3-1, with Bradley and Jones as the defensive midfielders, although the latter can be pushed on to aid the attack. The defence have a new look but the team cannot now count on the vastly experienced Landon Donovan up front after he was dropped. Recently repatriated Dempsey, late of Fulham and Spurs, is the main source of goals, perhaps unsurprisingly given that the first-choice striker is Altidore.

Grudge match

Mexico are the perennial regional rivals – USA fans like to chant “Dos a cero” after a string of recent scorelines. But this summer could also provide the Great Satan’s footballers with the opportunity to make a vague geopolitical point about nuclear non-proliferation or something – or more pointedly seek revenge for their 2-1 defeat at France 98 to Iran.

Holed up

The Americans will be based at São Paulo FC’s state-of-the-art Barra Funda complex and adjacent five-star hotel. The players had a training camp there in January and if they need inspiration to strut their stuff, they can look to Barra Funda’s resident flock of peacocks.

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