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A Game One Loss Isn’t The End of the World

Amid the unprecedented buildup to the USA's World Cup opener against England on Saturday, a reminder: A loss won't mean the end for either team.

A points system (three for a win, one for a tie) determines the top two in each four-team group that will advance to the next round. A team has a good chance to reach the knockout phase with four points, but as the Americans learned in last year's Confederations Cup, it's possible to advance with three.

After losing their first two games in that tournament, the USA won Game 3 and advanced on goal differential, then upset No. 1 Spain before falling to Brazil in the final.

"We proved what we're capable of last year, so now the question is: Can we bring that out of ourselves?" midfielder Landon Donovan said. "We have all the potential. There's no reason why we can't compete with England. If we give ourselves a chance to make plays and we make them, we can beat them."

Sixty years ago, the USA pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, stunning England 1-0. Now, even a tie would do. "I'd take it," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "To put in a good performance and get a draw would be a very good start for us."

Still, what happens after the opener ultimately will determine their fate. The USA meets Slovenia on June 18 and Algeria on June 23. "We'd all be disappointed if we didn't advance," U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said.

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