Ten Days and Counting….

They’ve gotten pep talks from hoops legends Bill Russell and Pete Carril (the only thing that could make Bob Bradley smile like that again would be the U.S. winning the World Cup), met former President Bill Clinton and current one Barack Obama, and played tuneup matches against the Czech Republic and Turkey.

On Monday, they touched down in South Africa, and they’ll face fellow World Cup entrants (and potential second-round opponents) Australia in a final tuneup on Saturday. Their tournament opener against England is 10 days away.

Yes, the U.S. World Cup adventure has a full head of steam.

So how does everyone out there feel about the Yanks’ chances? Confident they will advance out of Group C?

We are currently hovering around a 5.5 on a 1-10 confidence scale, with 10 being ‘no doubt about it.’ That’s up from a 3 before the second half against Turkey this past Saturday.

That first half versus Turkey was pretty dreadful, with the U.S. midfield playing butter to Turkey’s attacking knife. But the Americans perked up in the second half when Jose Torres and—that’s rightRobbie Findley came on.

The Real Salt Lake striker took almost no time at all to show why Bob Bradley included him in the final 23. Six minutes into the second half he tracked back with his trademark blazing speed and killed a Turkey counter—which had been embarrassing the U.S. all game to that point. Seven minutes after that he helped create the Nats’ first goal with a perfectly weighted ball over the top to Landon Donovan.

Yep, it was a convincing performance from Findley, and Torres was even better, coming in and settling down the midfield with his skill on the ball and excellent passing. He hit the post on a free kick and was probably the best player on the field for the U.S. in the second half.

But here’s a question: Do you start either of those guys against England?

Do you throw the inexperienced Findley (four caps, total) out there on the huge stage of a World Cup opener? Do you start the 22-year-old Torres in central midfield against Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard?

A couple other thoughts on the Turkey game: Jay DeMerit is a beast. He was excellent and seems like the one guy on the backline U.S. fans don’t have to worry about.

Jonathan Spector had a terrible game, and probably lost his starting spot to the veteran Steve Cherundolo.

Jonathan Bornstein played for 15 minutes and was skinned on at least two occasions. No way he sees the field in South Africa.

People seem to be penciling Oguchi Onyewu back into the starting XI—do his 45 minutes vs Turkey do the trick?

Give us your thoughts, and your U.S. starting XI vs England, in the comments.

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Torres Hits Golazo; Bradley and Beasley Shine

We covered the FA Cup and the exploits of Eddie Johnson and Freddy Adu in Greece, but there were three other foreign-based Americans who turned in performances worth noting this past weekend.

Leading the way was U.S. midfielder Jose Francisco Torres, who shook off a recent hamstring injury to score the winner—on a gorgeous free kick six minutes from time—in Pachuca’s 5-3 victory over Puebla. Here are the highlights from that goal-fest (note the header for Puebla by MLS alum Carlos Ruiz):

Michael Bradley had a stellar game for Borussia Moenchengladbach as it downed relegation-battling FC Nurnberg 2-1. The American midfielder sprung Marco Reus behind the Nurnberg defense with a perfect through ball in the 27th minute. Reus rounded the keeper and cut the ball back for Roberto Colautti to punch in for the opening goal. Bradley went the full 90; the win moves the Foals into 11th place in the Bundesliga.

In Scotland, Yank winger DaMarcus Beasley returned to action for the first time since December, starting and playing the first half of league-leading Rangers’ 3-0 win over third-place Hibernian. According to Yanks Abroad, Beasley troubled Hibs with his speed in the early going, drawing several free kicks. Beasley’s teammate and fellow Yank Maurice Edu dressed but did not play.

On the downside, U.S. midfielder Benny Feilhaber picked up an ankle injury and limped out of a training session with his Danish club Aarhus today. He’s awaiting x-ray and MRI results for a clearer prognosis.