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Some Advice For Team USA

US midfielder Landon Donovan. Timothy A. Clary/AFP hide caption

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Timothy A. Clary/AFP

Jeff Carlisle, of ESPN.com, doesn't mince words: "This is it, the game by which an entire four-year World Cup cycle will be judged."

At stake is a spot in the second round, yet the single biggest impediment to reaching that goal is the team's penchant for conceding early goals.

Remember the team's first 2010 World Cup match, against England?  It didn't take long — four minutes, in fact — before its opponent scored a goal.

Kelly Whiteside, covering the tournament for USA Today, agrees with Carlisle:

"Slow starts have nearly undone the Americans in their first two games, both draws," she writes.

Given this pattern and history — the Americans have never won a World Cup match in which they have trailed — an early goal is critical against Algeria.

According to Andrew Keh, a reporter for The New York Times, "the United States knows that if it beats Algeria in Pretoria, it will make the next round."

So, what should Team USA do?

"The Americans have conceded early goals in both of their matches," Keh writes. "Landon Donovan should continue to be the team's main attacking threat."

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Ives Galarcep, a soccer columnist and blogger, suggests that, "rather than sitting back and absorbing pressure, the United States must push the pace, but must do so while fulfilling the defensive responsibilities that will come against a quick Algerian attack."

The United States showed us against Slovenia that when they need to, they can attack effectively and break down even the toughest defense.  The Americans will need more of that type of offense against Slovenia, because without it, their World Cup will end on Wednesday.

The U.S. team faces Algeria's squad at 10:00 a.m. ET, at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.