RUSTENBURG, South Africa — The anxious outbursts by England coach Fabio Capello and his star striker Wayne Rooney this week are a fair indication that a United States victory on Saturday wouldn't be considered the World Cup upset that it was 60 years ago.
"Nineteen-fifty is a big moment in U.S. soccer history, and a victory tomorrow would certainly be right there on a par with it," coach Bob Bradley said of the 1-0 win in Brazil. "It wouldn't be a surprise like some of the victories in the past. We've earned more and more respect."
While the Americans are still on a high after reaching the Confederations Cup final last June, England's form and confidence going into the Group C opener has slumped despite a stunning qualification campaign.
"Usually the first game is hard because the expectations are really big, the pressure is big," Capello said Friday. "I was not happy about the first game we played here in South Africa (against the Platinum Stars on Monday) and I spoke with the players after it."
The players have been hailed as being part of a "Golden Generation," but have failed to advance past the quarterfinals in their previous two attempts to capture England's first World Cup title since 1966.
"We feel as if we've underachieved over the years with the players we have," England captain Steven Gerrard said. "We must prove to people that we are a good side. At every major tournament, people always talk about us as one of the favorites. Now it is time to deliver."
Rooney's determination to end England's trophy drought was clear as he flew into a rage in the warmup match on Monday, earning a yellow card for reportedly cursing at the referee.
"Our ability to keep track of him and make life hard for him is a key part of us making sure we can win," Bradley said. "He comes here off a super season."
Rooney scored 35 goals for Manchester United last season, and this is the stage for the 24-year-old striker to establish himself as a truly world class player in a global tournament.
And Capello doesn't expect it to end in disgrace as it did in 2006, when Rooney was sent off for stamping on an opponent.
"He's spontaneous," Capello said. "He's instinctive and when he goes out onto the pitch, he goes out to win. He's someone who gets angry when he's treated to something unfair. But he'll be fine for the World Cup, just as he was for the entire qualifying period ... the aggression of him is really strong."
Capello can be aggressive himself, berating news photographers he believed were shooting players while they were in team facilities at the Rustenburg complex on Wednesday.
Capello knows his lineup, but won't be letting his players know until two hours before kickoff on Saturday in Rustenburg. Midfielder Gareth Barry is fit enough to feature on the bench despite still recovering from ankle ligament damage.
"Always, I decide at the last moment to speak with the players," Capello said. "All the players are ready then to play. They're ready physically and mentally and they're focused, waiting to see which player will play. That's why I only tell them two hours before kickoff."
U.S. coach Bob Bradley would only reveal that captain Carlos Bocanegra and striker Jozy Altidore, who has recovered from a right ankle sprain, would be in the starting lineup.
Bradley is confident the 20-year-old Altidore can deliver despite scoring only one Premier League goal for Hull during his season-long loan in England from Villarreal.
"It was an important year for Jozy — any player that has gone to the Premiership, finds out the level, the competitiveness," Bradley said. "But I think he grew a lot. The one thing I would always say about Jose, from our experiences with him, when he's come into camps he's shown that, when things don't come easily, it's helped him.
"He comes in with a level of determination and ready to prove himself. He knows we believe in him. That's why he continues to be important for us."
Altidore scored last June as the Americans beat Spain 2-0 on their way to reaching the Confederations Cup final in South Africa, which they lost 3-2 to Brazil despite leading 2-0 at half time.
"The USA are very hard working — very fit and physical," Gerrard said. "We are expecting to be pressed really quickly. I'm sure it will be a good physical battle."