United States coach Bob Bradley said he and his team will take the lessons from the disappointment they suffered at Ellis Park just under a year ago as they prepare to face Slovenia in a FIFA World Cup™ Group C match which they cannot afford to lose.
The Americans were 2-0 up against Brazil at half-time in the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup at the Johannesburg stadium on June 28, 2009 only to lose the match 3-2. Tomorrow a win for Slovenia and for England against Algeria would leave qualification for the knockout phase out of the hands of Bradley's team.
The USA boss accepts it is a big game but believes his team have plenty of experience of such high-pressure encounters, some won and some lost. "Along the way there are finals and matches where the pressure is on," he said. "We've had good experiences as a group, we've learned from both sides.
"We've learned from moments where we've stuck together and pulled out important wins and we've learned from days where we've let the game get away from us, I mentioned earlier the final last June."
Bradley insists he and his backroom team have done just as much homework on the Slovenians as they did on their more illustrious first group opponents England. "Slovenia is a very good team, their coach Matjaz Kek has done an excellent job," he said.
We've learned from moments where we've stuck together and pulled out important wins and we've learned from days where we've let the game get away from us.
"They are very well organised tactically, they are very smart and their defensive record in qualifying was outstanding. There is a good balance in the team and they have good mobility. We have watched their players a lot and have great respect for them.
"We prepare the same way for every match, we work on the little things we think are important and leave other things on the outside. Every time you prepare you have a sense of the most important players and the things they do as a group. The England names might be bigger names but any team coached by Fabio Capello is going to be a strong unit.
"For Slovenia, Robert Koren, as a captain and midfielder, is a player who is the engine of team. [Striker Milivoje] Novakovic has a good touch and brings other players into the game and Valter Birsa has a great left foot. You pay attention to the details."
Bradley said the squad were all in good shape, with goalkeeper Tim Howard now recovered from the rib injury he suffered in a collision with England forward Emile Heskey on Saturday. Three USA players -- Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit and Robbie Findley -- are a yellow card away from a suspension.
Bradley was pleased to hear his side being credited by Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld after the Swiss beat Spain yesterday. The USA were the last side to beat the European champions when they ended a 35-match unbeaten run in the Confederations Cup last summer.
Bradley added: "Switzerland played a very good game because Spain is a great team. Hitzfeld is a great coach so if he paid our team a compliment, that's certainly a nice thing."