five U.s. players to watch
TIM HOWARD, goalie
He's having perhaps his best season for Everton. The 35-year-old, preparing for his second World Cup as the No. 1 choice, will be counted on to blunt the attack of talented opponents such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Gomez.
CLINT DEMPSEY, forward
Now 31, Dempsey struggled for goals for a year with Tottenham and Seattle before a spurt with the Sounders this spring. Dempsey, who replaced Carlos Bocanegra as the U.S. captain, can be deployed as a striker in a 4-4-2 or as a withdrawn forward in a 4-2-3-1.
MICHAEL BRADLEY, midfielder
The son of former U.S. coach Bob Bradley, the 26-year-old has become the most influential player on the national team. Will his January transfer from Roma to Toronto cause a drop in sharpness?
JOZY ALTIDORE, forward
Still only 24, he seemed to have his breakout season in 2012-13 when he scored 31 goals in 41 matches for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch league. But Altidore had only two goals in 38 games this season for Sunderland, leading some to question whether he can lead the American attack.
GEOFF CAMERON, defense
Spent most of the season at right back for Stoke, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann likes him more in the center paired with Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez. Will be counted on to help thwart Cristiano Ronaldo.