Friday 24 November 2017

America's big ambitions hinging on Bradley's forward plan

Rory Smith

The mathematics are easy for both Algeria and the United States in Pretoria this afternoon. A win for either team and, as long as England do not beat Slovenia by just one goal, the victors progress. It is history that both sides must overcome if they are to reach the last 16.

Few sides in this tournament are as goal shy as the Algerians, a malaise which long predates their presence in South Africa.

The last Desert Fox to trouble the scorers at a World Cup finals was Djamel Zidane, etching his name into the record books against Northern Ireland in 1986, while Rabah Saadane's current vintage have managed just five strikes in 10 games this year.

Against any side other than the United States, such a statistic would be fatal. But though Bob Bradley's team have managed three in this tournament, their strikers remain troublingly blunt. No forward has scored for the United States at a finals since Brian McBride in 2002.

Jozy Altidore, one of the prime culprits of such profligacy, remains unconcerned. "The moment we start to put individual wants or needs in front of what we are doing as a team is the moment we crash," he said.

"You can see in the locker room before the game that everyone cares how we do together. It does not matter who scores or how they do it, we just have to get the result."

Bradley, though, knows that the match will be decided by which side can shake off their affliction.

"Algeria take their chances well and they have some good creative players when they are going forward," the United States manager said. "It means that our ability to be disciplined and to finish attacks is going to be very important." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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