PRETORIA, June 22- United States will advance to the knockout rounds of the World Cup with a victory Wednesday over Algeria, but the Desert Foxes will try and sustain their own bid by ending American dreams.Slovenia, the Group C leader on four points, face England, on two points after a pair of draws, while the US team, also on two points but with more goals than England, meet the Algerians, who drew England for their lone point.
"This group has proved there isn’t an easy game," US defender Jay DeMerit said. "It’s going to be an interesting last day."
Bottom line for the Americans – win and they are in, lose and they are out.
"We need to keep them from scoring and keep scoring ourselves," US veteran Clint Dempsey said. "Our game is good enough to win if we play our best."
The Americans have never won a World Cup game in which they fell behind, but they have battled back in 2010 for a 2-2 draw with Slovenia – having a winning goal wiped out by a referee at the death – and a 1-1 draw with England.
"My guess is there aren’t many teams in this tournament that could have done what we did," US star midfielder Landon Donovan said. "That’s what the American spirit is about."
US teams are only 2-10 with five drawn in World Cup group play since ending a 40-year Cup finals absence in 1990, but the latest edition is not one to ignore before the final whistle.
"This team keeps fighting until the end," US coach Bob Bradley said. "We have the experience of pushing games when we’re behind. It’s something we feel good about. It’s a credit to the mentality of the players."
But there is some US concern about playing well before their rivals score.
"We seem to play better when we’re behind and that’s all got to change," US goalkeeper Tim Howard said.
"For whatever reason we seem to be very resilient. With a little more luck and concentration we can get on the right side of the scoresheet early on."
Scoring first will be especially important against an Algerian squad that has not scored at all.
"We’re frustrated now that we’ve fallen behind too often," DeMerit said. "It’s not always easy to put together that type of comeback.
"I wouldn’t call it a ‘Cry Wolf’ situation. It would be a situation you hope you wouldn’t get into in the first place. One thing about not starting as well as we like, when we do start well, we’re going to be in good shape."
Algeria must win to have any chance at extending their first World Cup appearance in 24 years.
"Initially it will be a game that’s going to be tight, seeing how things go," Dempsey said. "Algeria is a good team. They are athletic. We have to keep playing our game, try different things, mix up our passes."
The North Africans carry plenty of confidence into the match.
"If Algeria plays to its potential, we do not need to worry about our opponents," Foxes midfielder Karim Matmour said. "If we play our style, we can beat anyone."
Midfielders Karim Ziani and Yazid Mansouri set the tempo for Algeria, which was undone in a loss to Slovenia only after a red card dipped them to 10 men and made England pay for saying they barely knew any Foxes player.
"We showed that we were worthy of at least a minimum of respect," Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra said.
KEY TO MATCH:
US striker Jozy Altidore vs Algerian defenders
Both teams need to attack at some stage with victory vital to each. The US team figures to go on the offensive early on and with forward Robbie Findley suspended, finishing will fall to Altidore, aided by Dempsey and Donovan. Blunting the initial US surge will be critical for Algeria.