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Algeria-United States Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- The easiest scenario for the United States to reach the round of 16 is to beat Algeria in its final Group C match on Wednesday in Pretoria.
Whether the U.S. continues to make things difficult for itself in the early going will go a long way in determining its World Cup fate.
The Americans are in second place after a pair of draws - 1-1 versus England and 2-2 against Slovenia. The United States has rallied from deficits in both matches to come away with hard-earned points, though there was some disappointment from Friday's tie after Maurice Edu's 85th-minute goal was disallowed on a questionable foul during the free kick.
"I'm a little gutted to be honest," forward Landon Donovan said. "I don't know how they stole that last goal from us."
A victory would secure passage into the knockout round for the U.S. for the first time since 2002, but falling behind again would not be an ideal way to go about it. The Yanks conceded the first goal in the fourth minute against England and in 13th minute versus Slovenia.
"The funny thing is, we talk about, you know, don't concede early," captain Carlos Bocanegra said. "And man, it's been our trademark lately, conceding early."
Donovan likely will be the determining factor for the U.S. to advance. His tireless two-way play and dangerous deliveries on set pieces - most notably the free kick on Edu's disallowed goal - opened the field during a second-half charge versus Slovenia.
Edu's second-half performance may have earned him a starter's role for this match in the midfield, though coach Bob Bradley will have to make at least one change since forward Robbie Findley accumulated two yellow cards and must sit this match. It's also possible Bradley will move Clint Dempsey up front with Jozy Altidore, who assisted on Michael Bradley's tying goal.
Algeria picked up a surprising point with a scoreless draw Friday against England. While the Desert Foxes have yet to score a goal in South Africa, they are confident in getting the needed victory that would propel them into the knockout round.
"If Algeria plays to its potential we don't need to worry about our opponents," midfielder Karim Matmour said Sunday. "If we play our style of football we can beat anyone."
Algerian coach Rabah Saadane likely will turn to Rais Bolhi again for goalkeeper. The 24-year-old responded to the pressure of his second international appearance by shutting down the Three Lions after Faouzi Chaouchi's gaffe cost Algeria in a 1-0 loss to Slovenia in the group opener.
The Desert Foxes failed to make it out of group play in their previous World Cup appearances in 1982 and 1986. Its 1982 exit came about because West Germany and Austria arranged a 1-0 victory by West Germany in the final group match that allowed both teams to advance at Algeria's expense.
The ensuing scandal resulted in FIFA playing the final group matches simultaneously.
Updated June 21, 2010