The U.S. men's soccer team opened its 2014 season with a 2-0 win over South Korea in a friendly match in California Saturday. Both teams are gearing up for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in June.
U.S. fans were in a frenzy on each of two goals by Chris Wondolowski, who is known to his teammates as Wondo. The South Koreans remained scoreless, and U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had praise for the forward from the San Jose Earthquakes.
“Seeing Wondo start the year 2014 with two goals, it's awesome. It's awesome for him," he said.
United States forward Chris Wondolowski (l) celebrates his goal with teammate Brad Davis during the first half of a friendly soccer match against South Korea in Carson, California, Feb. 1, 2014.
Klinsmann said two weeks of training recently in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at one of the World Cup sites, and another week in California are paying off.
For the U.S. team, and World Cup competitor South Korea, the key to success is forging a unified team in the next four months. U.S. defender Brad Evans of the Seattle Sounders says the competition is tough.
“We've got Ghana, Portugal and Germany in our group alone. Those are some of the top teams in the world and you look at the home country, Brazil, who has probably the favorites to win at this point, being home and obviously a very good team," he said. "You look at Spain, who's historically been a very good team as well."
Evans says the immediate focus is Ghana, which the U.S. will face in Brazil June 16.
U.S. forward Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy is a World Cup veteran who is ready for surprises.
“I've played in three of these, and a lot of times the games that are, quote, easier on paper end up being harder and vice versa, so it's the best 32 teams in the world," said Donovan.
South Korea will play a friendly match with Greece in Athens March 5, and starts World Cup play June 17 in a game against Russia.
As the teams prepare, the fans say they're ready. The U.S. will play Ukraine next in a friendly match in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 5.