BOCANEGRA RELYING ON US STAPLES
United States national team captain Carlos Bocanegra says the US squad is ready for battle on Saturday and is planning to use the core principles of American soccer to achieve a result against England.
Bocanegra, who currently plays for French Ligue 1 club Rennes, believes that the traditional US traits of endurance, being physical and hard work will serve as the cornerstone for their World Cup run.
"I think those are still the staples of our team," Bocanegra recently said. "More and more of our players are playing overseas in Europe and getting games week in and week out at a high level and I think it has helped improve our national team."
Head coach Bob Bradley's team can also take solace in the fact that they already have six matches under their belt in South Africa with the five matches from last year's Confederations Cup run and the 2007 international friendly versus the Bafana Bafana.
That familiarity, he notes, has made for a smooth transition during the lead-up to Saturday's opener.
"We've been made to feel very comfortable here," Bocanegra said of South Africa. "We've had a lot of support so it's been great. The whole experience we've had down here is fantastic."
Reaching the Confederations Cup final last year was a milestone for the US men's national team which had never before reached the final of a FIFA tournament.
The lopsided victory over Egypt and the stunning win of Spain in the semifinals coupled with the near upset of Brazil in the final is something that Bocanegra feels has given a boost to the US squad entering the World Cup.
"It was good for our confidence," he said of last summer's tournament. "It showed that when we play well, we can play with the top teams in the world. We still have to earn it every time we go out there in play but it certainly helps our confidence."
The captain of the Red, White and Blue is expected to be slotted somewhere on Bradley's back line versus the Three Lions, however the road has been a bit bumpy of late for the veteran who battled assorted minor injuries during his club season.
A contusion on his knee during the spring forced the Californian to alter his running stride which ultimately resulted in abdominal pain.
Bocanegra underwent a minor hernia surgery to repair the injury but he does concede that pain and soreness is still lingering in his body.
"I feel alright. It's good," concluded Bocanegra. "I wish that Bob had let me play a little more the other day [against Australia ]. It gets sore but I'm sure I'm not the only person here playing with a bit of soreness."