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US Faces Poland in World Cup Round Robin Match - 2002-06-13

The U.S. Soccer team plays its final World Cup group round-robin match in South Korea on Friday (7:30am EDT) against Poland.

The United States needs only a tie against Poland in Daejeon, to reach its goal of advancing to the second round. The Americans could also advance if they lose and South Korea upsets Portugal in the other Group D match Friday played at the same hour in Incheon.

The U.S. team is tied for the group lead with South Korea with four points, while Portugal has three points and Poland has zero.

The Poles have yet to score a goal in losing to both South Korea and Portugal and have no chance to advance.

Still, U.S. defender Eddie Pope says he and his teammates can not take Poland lightly.

"We are looking at it like it is going to be a dogfight. They have not done so well in the first two games so they are probably going to bring a good team and a good game against us," Pope said. "No game at this stage is easy once you get to the World Cup. So it is going to be a battle for both teams. And I do not think you can pick anyone as a favorite, especially as games have gone in this World Cup."

Coach Bruce Arena agrees, and said you need only to look at the upsets at this World Cup to know anything can happen.

"This has been a very difficult group (D), if you have not figured it out. No one has given this group much credit, but it has been very difficult and compounded greatly by the fact that the host country is here," the coach said. "And Poland did not get off to a good start and it was tough for them. But there are a lot of good players on this Polish team and we need to be ready for a real difficult game."

After the U.S. team's 3-2 upset win over Portugal and the 1-1 tie against World Cup co-host South Korea, Coach Arena says his team's confidence is growing and he expects a good result against Poland.