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US Soccer Team Set to Play Italy at World Cup


The U.S. Soccer team will try to bounce back from its opening 3-0 (Group E) loss to the Czech Republic at the World Cup. But as VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer reports from Germany, it will not be easy.

The U.S. soccer team was not expected to win its opening match at this World Cup to a Czech team ranked second in the World. But followers certainly expected a better performance than what the Americans showed in their 3-0 loss.

A reporter for the International Herald Tribune used these words to describe the U.S. effort: bland, artless and empty.

For a team that has eight losses in eight matches in World Cups held in Europe, the U.S. will have to try to break that string against a strong Italian side that beat Ghana, 2-0 in the other Group E opener.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena said the Italian team has a lot of talent.

"This team has great strikers," he said. "There's no question about it, and a bunch of good players, obviously. Their team is primarily comprised of players from Juventus and AC Milan, two of the great clubs in the world. They have great players."

But coach Arena believes his players will up for the task.

"This is a World Cup. This is not, you know, club soccer, whatever," he said. "This is the moment to shine and step up and show what youre about. And I think that our players are ready to respond and give a good effort."

Italian fan Francesco Padura, who has a ticket for the match, told VOA he respects the U.S. team but is sure his side will win.

"Athletically the United States is very good and I think we have to mark their attackers and play our typical, usual play," he said. "I mean we play defense and we go on the attack with a good midfield. I'm very, very excited. Come on Azurri! Come on Italia! Were going to win the World Cup!

After the U.S. team's loss to the Czechs, Coach Arena said he would make some changes for the match against Italy, but he does not announce his starting line-ups until shortly before each game.

Whichever American players are on the field in Kaiserslautern against Italy, they know anything less than a win will probably mean they will have no chance to reach the second round, even if they were to beat Ghana in the final Group E match next Thursday.