Friday, 11 June 2010

Spector of defeat looms for England, says the very average US full-back from West Ham

JONATHAN SPECTOR, a little-known American who carves out a living as a journeyman full back with London Premier League club West Ham, insists the opening match against England in Phokeng tomorrow will be the USA’s “easiest match” in Group C.

With Slovenia and Algeria to come, Spector – sent out on loan to Charlton after three games for Manchester United before his move to the Hammers in 2005 - said: “It's our easiest game. There will be some great bragging rights in England next season if we manage to win."

"There is a quiet confidence in the US team," Spector, 24 with 25 caps, told the BBC World Service's Sportsworld programme. "There are no expectations in the US so the only pressure comes from ourselves. We are not expected to get anything from it where as the other two games there will be pressure.

"We have captured the attention of the general public in the United States and we would like to keep their attention by doing well at the World Cup."

England may be a little wound up by Spector’s assessment before the eagerly awaited clash at the Bafokeng Palace Stadium, where the surface is like a billiard table and the 8.30pm (7.30pm) kick off will take place after sunset with cold conditions arguably favouring Fabio Capello’s men despite the altitude.

The US, based a mile from my base at the Irene Lodge in Centurion, go on to play dark horses Slovenia in Johannesburg on 18 July before their final group game against Algeria – who put out African champions Egypt - in Pretoria five days later.

Drawing on their impressive form when they reached the Confederations Cup final in South Africa last year (and beat Euro champions Spain), confidence is extraordinarily high in a nation famous for shocking England at the Brazilian World Cup in 1950.

Defender Oguchi Onyewu got in on the Spector act, ignoring England’s world ranking of eight, six ahead of the US in 14. After impressive friendly wins over Turkey in Philadelphia and Australia at the Ruimsig Stadium near Johannesburg, he said: “With our performances and results last summer, we gained a little bit more respect in the world. It gives you a confidence and the realisation we are playing at the highest level and can compete with the best teams in the world.

"The Confederations Cup was last year. This Saturday is the World Cup and it is a completely different monster.

"It is a different entity. But the experience we picked up can only help us going into this tournament.

"England are a very good team with very good players but it is about how those players play together and that is going to be the important deciding factor. Our expectations are to get a win."

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