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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 01:30 GMT 02:30 UK
USA eye second round
Clint Mathis scored the opening goal against South Korea
Mathis scored the opening goal against South Korea

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Group D | Daejeon
Fri 14 June | 12.30 BST

The United States now needs only a draw in their final Group D match against Poland on Friday to achieve their goal of making the second round of the World Cup.

It is clearly a position that America relishes, and one they are perhaps even a bit surprised by.

The squad is now armed with a great deal of well-earned confidence, and four points, after defeating Portugal and drawing with South Korea in their opening two matches.

"If someone had said you can have four points going into the third game, I would have taken it," goalkeeper Brad Friedel said.

US captain and midfielder Claudio Reyna was quick to point out that the US still have to be ready to face a formidable, albeit already eliminated, Polish squad.

Brad Friedel
Friedel was on top form against South Korea
"In France we went into our last game really wanting something even though we were out.

"From that experience maybe we can learn that they will really be wanting to give the Polish people something to be proud of.

"We have to go into that game and be prepared and respect them," said Reyna.

Although the US are playing in their fourth successive World Cup, success has been lacking.

Before their match against Portugal, they had managed just one win in 10 matches dating back to Italy 1990, with five of their eight losses in succession.

America's best performance was a second round appearance, and subsequent defeat by Brazil, at USA 1994.

A berth in the second round in 2002 would not only equal America's performance of eight years ago, but also help ease the bitter memories of France 1998 that saw the US finish last in the 32 nation field.

Eddie Pope
Pope is a survivor from 1998
"We are happy," said defender Eddie Pope, a member of the squad in 1998.

"Who would have thought we would have this many points after two games? We have to do well against Poland, but it is better than last time.

"We came into this tournament with the attitude that anything can happen. We are going to be positive and try to move forward. We are in great spirits."

Striker Clint Mathis, who scored America's goal against South Korea, added: "Right now, we're sitting good."

After their stunning upset of Portugal, it is not unthinkable that the US could make it past the second round, especially if they face Mexico.

America have defeated their Concacaf rivals in four of the previous five matches.

And looming somewhere deep in the back of American soccer historians' minds is the now all but forgotten semi-final appearance by the US at the inaugural 1930 World Cup. But first of course, a result must be gained on Friday.

But in America, to a football fan anyway, 1930 doesn't really seem all that long ago.


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GROUP D
  P GD PTS
SOUTH KOREA 3 +3 7
USA 3 -1 4
PORTUGAL 3 +2 3
POLAND 3 -4 3




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