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U.S. SOCCER PLAYERS CAN’T BELIEVE THEY GET TO PLAY BRAZIL ON 4TH

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The American hosts could not have written a better script than the one devised by chance: Team USA against mighty Brazil in the World Cup on the Fourth of July. Fireworks are guaranteed.

The match was made when Brazil won its group and the United States took third in its group. All along, third in Group A was going to play the winner of Group B. The two teams just filled in the blanks.Tom Dooley can't believe the good luck.

"It will be a great moment for soccer in the United States," said the U.S. player, referring to long efforts to establish the game in America.

"In San Francisco, we might see what the world has never seen before, the American dwarf beat the giant Brazil," said Dragoslav Stepanovic, coach of Leverkusen in the German league. "Football is a funny thing."

America's first-round matches were followed enthusiastically in the nation's media and in packed stadiums. The first 12 days of the World Cup have awakened American interest in a game that occupies only the periphery of U.S. sport.

"I would rather play Brazil than Sweden, in any case," said Dooley. "We didn't reckon with Sweden at all."

Paul Caligiuri boasted: "We beat the Colombians. Their style fit us. It won't be any different with Brazil."

This American team has played Brazil three times in recent years, but never in a context as meaningful as the World Cup. They failed to score against the Latin Americans in two matches in the U.S. and one in Brazil, while yielding one goal in one match, two in another and three in the third.

Long before the members of this team were born, on Aug. 17, 1930, Americans did manage to find the goal against Brazil - but fell short 4-3.

As it moved toward the Group B victory in recent days, Brazil knew it would be playing the next match in San Francisco. Brazil expected a "home crowd" of Brazilian fans. Most likely, they'll get a sea of red, white and blue on Independence Day.

Brazil has shown the skill and savvy needed to prevail in these conditions. The team is also displaying tact and modesty on the Americans' home ground.

"We respect the United States like we would any other opponent," said coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. "They reached the round of 16 on their own power."

Brazil's Dunga agreed: "We've no reason to be overconfident. After all, they did beat Colombia."