Dempsey warns Capello not to underestimate US underdogs' attacking bite

Motivational talk from 'Black Hawk Down' pilot has England's opponents fired up for Saturday

As reward and recognition for a fine season's work, Fulham will be represented at the World Cup in five different squads – three of the African sides plus Mark Schwarzer's Australia and the United States – but their midfielder Clint Dempsey is claiming supporters' loyalties on the basis that his national team are the Cottagers in stars and stripes.

The small problem for patriots on the Hammersmith End, of course, is that the States' first opposition in Group C are none other than England, but after that they should be able to enjoy the similarities with the football they are used to. As Dempsey, who is likely to be in a familiar berth on the flank puts it: "We both play 4-4-2, our outside midfield players tuck in rather than being wingers and we keep two solid banks of four. We're very strong defensively, like Fulham. We try to frustrate our opponents and make life difficult for them. Whether it's Fulham or the US, we have players who are confident and believe they can win every game they play in. You want guys who believe that."

Giving away more than may be advisable, he even spells out how the US will be attempting to emulate the way Roy Hodgson's side overcame teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Juventus last season: "We beat Man United by staying compact defensively, with those two banks of four, choosing our moments to get forward. The US play in a similar style to Fulham and we'll try and do the same thing. Every time you play a top team and get a result you take positives from it, whether it be United, Liverpool or Chelsea."

At international level, make that Spain, the European champions they defeated at the Confederations Cup in South Africa last summer, before leading Brazil 2-0 at half-time in the final, only to lose 3-2. "Beating Spain last summer was a complete game for us, in the sense that we took our chances and made life difficult for them. In the first half against Brazil we did the same thing, but couldn't hold on to it. We've shown a few times that when we're on top of game we're tough to beat, but we're going to have to bring our A-game to get out of the group.

"I'm used to being the underdog whether with Fulham or the US, and it suits us, because we just stick to what we're good at. That's the way it'll be until we change people's perceptions. The most important thing is having players who believe they can win any game they play in."

Dempsey, a Texan, was speaking yesterday at the quaint rural training headquarters of the US squad, all farm smells and clucking hens. It is as far removed as imaginable from the bustle of their Hamburg base at the 2006 World Cup, where defeats by the Czech Republic and Ghana meant an early flight home and unemployment for the coach Bruce Arena. His successor Bob Bradley has brought in a number of younger players, including his son Michael, who should be alongside Dempsey in midfield on Saturday, as well as building up an all-for-one attitude. There have been motivational talks by a number of figures including Dan Jolotta, who won the Distinguished Flying Cross after leading rescue missions into Mogadishu, Somalia, which became the subject of the book and film Black Hawk Down.

"The speakers helped us with team bonding," Dempsey said. "They brought us their experiences about coming together for one team goal, putting egos aside and putting personal glory aside. It is about the team. Everyone on the same page." The page that lists Saturday's squad will naturally have 11 names more prominent than others. Dempsey will expect to be one of those wide players tucking inside, with DaMarcus Beasley, who was briefly at Manchester City and has just left Rangers, on the other side. Unless there is a clever bluff going on, it sounds as if that pair will sit tight, wait for Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole to go forward and then exploit the spaces left: "Glen Johnson is a good player, effective going forward, but when he gets forward we have a chance to hit them on the counter and give them something to worry about. Both their full-backs like to get forward and will leave holes."

Lessons learnt there from the Premier League. So back to Fulham again: "No one thought Fulham would get to the final of the Europa League, but we did that. No one thought we'd get to the final of the Confederations Cup, but we did that. It doesn't matter what anybody thinks of us, it only matters what people inside the group think of themselves. If you have belief then it's contagious. You can't live life in fear. You've got to go out and take advantage of the opportunities you get to do something special. The guys here have that mentality and we have to show that in these games."

Five Americans who can hurt England

Landon Donovan

Americans love their stats and the LA Galaxy forward has given them plenty to tot up from his 10 years and 123 appearances with the national team: 42 goals and 45 assists are both national records. After his spell at Goodison, Everton fans will testify he can be a threat.

Oguchi Onyewu

"Gooch", the big central defender, may hurt England's strikers in a literal sense, which will test Wayne Rooney's powers of self-control. Strong in the air, he has Champions League experience with Milan but was unimpressive during a loan move to Newcastle in 2007.

Carlos Bocanegra

Experienced captain used to European football after four seasons at Fulham – where he was also used at centre-back – and two with Rennes. Will hope to test Aaron Lennon and Glen Johnson with threatening runs and crosses from his left-back position.

Clint Dempsey

Has become a cult figure at Fulham after being signed from New England Patriots by Chris Coleman in 2007. Has flourished under Roy Hodgson and has the happy knack of weighing in with crucial goals – witness his stunning winner against Juventus in the Europa League.

Edson Buddle

The athletic striker, who plays for LA Galaxy, has suddenly emerged as a serious contender to start on Saturday after seven years of being ignored since his first cap. England's spies were impressed as he bagged two fine goals against Australia last weekend.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before