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USMNT: Don’t Overlook Slovenia And Algeria

The Last Thing Bob Bradley Needs Is An Upset.

While many USMNT fans are feeling World Cup fever and looking forward to the possibility of a shock win over England, those same fans are looking at the other two teams in their group, Slovenia and Algeria, and seeing an easy six points. In 2006, the situation was quite similar. USMNT fans drooled over the possibility of beating a superior European team in the form of Italy, and overlooked World Cup first-timers Ghana and a smaller European nation in the form of the Czech Republic. The ‘Yanks’ were beaten 3-0 by the Czech Republic, 2-1 by Ghana, and managed a 1-1 draw against Italy, the team every USMNT fan was looking forward to seeing the national side play and upset.

Four years later, and England replaces Italy, Slovenia replaces the Czech Republic, and Algeria replaces Ghana. At first glance, it seems a lot easier this time around than it did four years ago, but that is the problem. When most fans see Algeria and Slovenia, they can’t think of a single player that plays for either of those teams, and so immediately discounts them. This is a massive mistake. Slovenia and Algeria both earned their places in this year’s World Cup by upsetting the odds and making it count in the big games. If the USMNT have any chance of upsetting the odds and beating England, the same odds apply for Algeria and Slovenia to send USA home early.

Slovenia’s World Cup qualification group included Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, and San Marino. Slovenia finished second in the group, just two points away from eventual winners Slovakia, and drew Russia in the play-off game for a World Cup spot. Slovenia beat Russia on away goals, and qualified for this summer’s tournament. Russia were heavy favourites to qualify, and boast a squad full of talent, which includes Arsenal’s Andrey Arshavin and Chelsea’s Yuri Zhirkov, amongst others. If Slovenia had the squad to deal with a Russia side who thumped the Netherlands in 2008 in the European Championships, then this Slovenia side is quite capable of causing an upset against the USMNT.

Algeria had the most intense pressure on their shoulders to secure qualification, when the news came out that they would fight for a place against rivals and 3-time in a row Africa champions. Algeria, who were also looked at as huge underdogs to qualify against an Egypt side who dominate Africa every two years at the African Nations Cup, beat Egypt and qualified for the tournament. Algeria, a side many know so little about, beat an Egypt side that has won 3 straight African titles and that beat Italy 1-0 in last year’s Confederations Cup. Algeria’s threat will come from out wide, with Portsmouth’s Nadir Belhadj and Wolfsburg’s Karim Ziani. Algeria also possess a wild-card in youngster Ryad Boudebouz, who is largely unknown in Europe still but could make a big splash at this summer’s tournament.

Just like England fans should be wary about the threat the USMNT carries, the USMNT should be wary of the threat of sides like Slovenia and Algeria. While the USMNT should beat those two sides, there is always the chance that a slight underestimation will lead to a catastropic upset. The last thing USA fans want to see is their side beating England, and then being sent home by teams they are expected to beat.

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Click to comment


  1. iman

    June 14, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Algeria is a country with great success and I am proud of the Algerian

  2. Zahra

    June 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

    who knows we ,the Algerians,may eliminate both England and USA
    so be careful

  3. nordine

    June 10, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Algerian fan here 🙂
    Imho its all bonus for Algeria, its a young squad assembled in the last 6 months, we are going there to learn and cement this group to possibly challenge for the next AFC and the 2014 WC in Brasil.
    I still think that Slovenia will finish above team USA, they are more compact and more astute tactically.
    My 2 cents !

  4. Nouri

    June 10, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Dear American algeria will give a lesson of Football . Let’s wait and See

  5. Paolo

    June 10, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Egypt defeated Italy3-0? Are you kidding You should have said that Egypt lost against 3-0 the US They won three Africa cups thanks to the referees because the CAF headquareters is in Egypt and it is the CAF who chooses the referees the African cup of 2006 took place in Egypt and they terrorized the Ivory Coast as they stoned the Algerian players in 2009
    and when it comes to the world cup they never qualify because the referees are choosen by the FIFA

    Algeria is very good but not because because it defeated Egypt

  6. Giber

    June 9, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    The USA should not take anyone for granted. Theres a reason why those teams are in the World Cup. The worst thing the USA can do is go overconfident and think its going to be 6 easy points. I mean they are professionals i think this is not even going through their heads they should be focus and be ready to play to the best of their abilities regardless who the opponent is.

  7. Dylan Thomas

    June 9, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    I agree with you both Ryan and Logan. Neither game should be taken for granted, but I think most USA fans are overlooking Algeria and Slovenia because they’re excited and distracted at the prospect of playing and potentially upsetting England.
    @Kevin, you know that’s not how I meant it. Algeria and Slovenia are teams without household names in the squad.

  8. sloveniablows

    June 9, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    WITNESSETH: This USA fan hereby officially overlooks both Algeria and Slovenia. They are terribad and we should crush them.

    • Dylan Thomas

      June 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm

      You must feel pretty bad about saying that now.

  9. Logan

    June 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Basically, what it comes down to, I think, is that any team that makes it to the World Cup is a threat and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I mean, it’s the World Cup for f’s sake. Not that easy to get there.

  10. Ryan

    June 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    EXCELLENT point. I have been arguing this for months! Getting 6 pts from both of these sides won’t be easy. England are worried about Slovenia as well. If we draw to England we HAVE to get all 6 pts, and that’s not a gimme by any stretch.

  11. Kevin McCauley

    June 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    “When fans see Algeria and Slovenia, they can’t think of a single player that plays for either of those teams, and so immediately discounts them.”

    I usually get a bit offended when I read an article and the person who wrote it assumes that I’m ignorant. Just saying.

    • Jeff

      June 10, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      Your right, Kevin. Especially since Dylan was writing this piece directly only at you.

      • Dylan Thomas

        June 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm

        thanks Jeff!

  12. James

    June 9, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    You left out Clint’s goal against Ghana.

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