Goal-shy US off to Tianjin

The United States lost their final pre-Olympic friendly on Saturday, falling 1-0 to Cameroon in a tense contest. An Aurelien Chedjou Fongang penalty in the 24th minute proved the only difference between the two sides.

The Americans have now failed to score in their last two matches, having drawn Côte d'Ivoire 0-0 on 30 July in their first match of the invitational ING Cup in Hong Kong. However, coach Peter Nowak is not overly concerned as he considers the games merely prelude to the big event; the Men's Olympic Football Tournament, which will run in five Chinese cities from 7 to 23 August.

"We were here in Hong Kong in order to make progress in the way that we play," said Nowak, who can take heart in the fact that his men did not concede a goal from open play in the two games. "It was a very physical game against Cameroon, and maybe my players were still a bit naive about what to expect at international level. Now they know what to expect. Progress has been made and we expect to go to Tianjin and polish the things that we need to this week.

"I think anyone who plays us in the Olympics is going to have problems," the boss concluded.

Even though they have failed to score in their last two friendlies, the Americans arrive in China with a raft of attacking options. Freddy Adu, who this week inked a loan deal from Benfica to Monaco, and senior international Benny Feilhaber are just two of the former Poland captain's options.

Nowak can also count on the massive figure of three-time FIFA World Cup™ veteran Brian McBride and Jozy Altidore, who recently became the most expensive American signing of all time when he put pen to paper with Spanish side Villarreal.

FIFA.com caught up with the hulking forward last week for an exclusive interview in which the main topic was, predictably, the upcoming Beijing games.

"We've been practising for this tournament for a long time. It feels like the culmination of something," the former Red Bull New York ace said. "With the players we have, and the preparations we've made, there's no telling what we can do or how far we can go in Beijing." Read the complete interview with Altidore by clicking on the link to the right. 

The Americans are en route to Tianjin, 150 km east of Beijing, where they open their Group B account against Japan on Thursday. They will also face Nigeria and ING Cup winners Holland in the section.

The USA's best finish at an Olympic finals came in Sydney in 2000 when, inspired by Landon Donovan and Brad Friedel, they finished just off the podium in fourth place.