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USA vs. Slovenia: Americans must embrace role of Goliath to beat this David

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Kirsty Wigglesworth

(Read caption) USA vs. Slovenia starts at 10 am today. Team USA soccer players run during a training session at The Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, June 11, a day before their 1-1 tie against England. While the Americans can match and sometimes beat the world's top clubs, they seem to have more trouble when not the underdog.

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The astute student of World Cup history will have circled one game on the calendar for the Americans. And it is not USA vs. England.

It is USA vs. Slovenia.

The two play today, and a loss for USA will virtually eliminate the Americans from the World Cup. A win will put USA in position to get to Round 2. And a tie will leave everything to play for in the final opening-round Group C match against Algeria.

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Slovenia, you say?

Isn’t Slovenia a mere remnant of a country – a demographic hiccup of 2 million people? In qualifying, didn’t it lose a match to lightweight Northern Ireland? And in its only other World Cup appearance in history (2002), didn't it lose all three games?

All true. And yet if you still think Slovenia doesn’t present a serious threat, you haven’t been paying attention.

America has developed into a team with a bit of a David vs. Goliath complex.

The best teams bring out the best in the US. In four of the past five World Cups, the US has punched above its weight in at least one opening-round match:

  • 1994: USA 2-1 Colombia
  • 2002: USA 3-2 Portugal
  • 2006: USA 1-1 Italy
  • 2010: USA 1-1 England

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