USA’s World Cup campaign continues with its second Group C match against Slovenia.
With Bob Bradley’s team in needs of a win to stay in contention, we highlight five things to look out for during Friday’s clash at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
The time for caution is over.
The point picked up against England may not have any real importance when it comes to deciding who qualifies from Group C.
Ahead of the tournament, US coach Bob Bradley earmarked the games against the group’s weaker sides Slovenia and Algeria, as his team’s best chance of qualifying for the second round.
The US needs to take all three points against Friday's Eastern European opponent.
This means abandoning the defensive tactics of the England game and taking the game to Slovenia.
Slovenia’s 1-0 win over Algeria in Group C’s second encounter was a bad result for the US.
With three points already on the board, Slovenia will go into its second game knowing that a draw will give it a good chance of qualifying for the second round.
If the Eastern Europeans are in a defensive mode, the US could really struggle to score.
The Slovenians are renowned for being difficult to break down and conceded goals only six times in 12 qualifying matches.
Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek’s primary concern is always for his team not to concede goals, and he is likely to be happy with a scoreless draw against the US.
Following the high-profile mistakes made by the other goalkeepers in Group C, both No. 1s in USA vs. Slovenia will be hoping to continue their solid form.
USA’s Tim Howard has been troubled by a rib injury from Saturday after colliding with England striker Emile Heskey.
However, the Everton keeper has returned to training and looks set to start Friday’s crucial match.
Slovenia’s Samir Handanovic was in good form against Algeria, making a number of important saves.
The Udinese keeper is considered one of the finest his country has ever produced and is a key part of the national team’s success.
His cousin, Jasmin Handanovic, is also a goalkeeper and will be on the Slovenia bench at Ellis Park.
Jozy Altidore (USA)
The striker’s excellent showing against England proved he has fully recovered from the ankle injury he picked up ahead of the World Cup.
Altidore’s pace troubled the English defense; he would have scored if not for a great save from Rob Green.
The Hull City player may struggle to find gaps behind Slovenia’s back four; but if he can, he might be the key to US success.
Valter Birsa (Slovenia)
The midfielder was Slovenia’s best player in Algeria's defeat.
The 25-year-old plays his club football for Auxerre in France and slots in on the right side of Slovenia’s midfield.
Birsa’s dead-ball delivery is excellent, and he possesses a fierce shot from a distance.
US captain Carlos Bocanegra will need to close down Birsa quickly to stop him from getting in sight of a goal.
Should Slovenia venture out of its defensive shell and grab a goal against the US, watch and see if the players repeat their weird goal celebration from last Sunday.
After Robert Koren gave them the lead against Algeria, the players gathered in a circle and waved their hands above their heads like they were pulling on an imaginary piece of string.
US fans will hope they don’t get a chance of a repeat viewing.