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U.S. team downplays 1950 parallels as England game looms
By Pat Martin, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It was 1950 when the United States men's soccer team last played England in a FIFA World Cup match.

That year, the U.S. team pulled off one of the most important victories in its lackluster World Cup history by upsetting the Three Lions, 1-0, in Brazil.

Now, leading up to the U.S. vs. England clash in each team's Group C opener on Saturday, the Americans are cautious of drawing inspiration from one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

"We don't know our history terribly well when it comes to that," U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said of the historic win 60 years ago. "We just know the importance of that. [The 1950 upset] is going to be relived again and that's going to be brought up because it's England/USA."

Can the U.S. take some inspiration from Joseph Gaejens' 37th minute rebound goal past English goalkeeper Bert Williams, a goal that shocked the soccer world over half a century ago?

"I think you have to know your history, but one doesn't really have to do with the other," Howard said of the upcoming game. "If we win, I'm sure there will be a parallel. It's a special time for us and I think probably for the first time we are able to look back at out soccer history and say that was an important time and we can do that again. We don't often have that."

No doubt there is a lot of hype leading up to the game, but the U.S. also knows that it is just one of three matches it must get a result in to get through to the second round.

"Obviously from a storyline standpoint and a buildup to the World Cup standpoint, it's intriguing and it's exciting, and we understand that," U.S. attacker Landon Donovan said. "For us, a lot of emphasis is put on the England game. But the reality is regardless of what happens in that game, we are not out of the tournament at that point and we are not advanced at that point no matter what happens. It's just one of three games."

Truth be told, the U.S. still has to play Slovenia and Algeria in the coming weeks to advance, but that doesn't mean the England game doesn't carry a little extra weight.

"To the American sports fan that's not necessarily a soccer fan, the game carries importance in that way," Donovan said.

"It's [our] first game of the tournament, it's exciting," U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra said. "[England] is one of the big teams from around the world so it's a good challenge for us. That's something that you look forward to, especially in the World Cup."

The U.S. knows it has to be on its game quickly to start the 2010 World Cup, and Saturday's fixture should be an early test as to how it stacks up with the best of the best.

"They are a good team, that's why they are number three in the world," U.S. attacker Clint Dempsey said. "You look forward to playing against top teams, and what better stage then the biggest stage in the world, the World Cup?"