Landon Donovan likes the U.S.'s chances in World Cup group play against Ghana, Portugal and Germany. But the threat posed by Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo is something that could keep him up at night.
"Listen, there's no question he's one of the best players in the world. And he can single-handedly win games against some of the best teams in the world," the Galaxy midfielder said. "We will certainly be cautious and aware of where he is. But there is still a lot of confidence in our team that we can advance and get out of this group.
And that confidence, Donovan said, will keep the U.S. from being intimidated by opposition that includes the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the world in Germany and Portugal.
"We've shown that we can beat any team," he said. "I've been a part of some great wins that we've had over some of the best teams in the world. And there's no reason why we can't do that [again].
"We know it's not easy. But we're certainly capable of doing it."
FIFA: 'We've been through hell'
General Secretary Jerome Valcke, the FIFA official who has been harshest in his criticism of Brazilian organizers, lashed out again last week, this time targeting the country's politicians.
"In Brazil there are certain politicians who are against the World Cup," he said, according to Agence France Presse. "We've been through hell, essentially because in Brazil you have three political levels and there has been a change, there was an election, and we're not necessarily talking to the same people."
"If the World Cup is a failure," he continued "then we, FIFA, are in trouble."
Chief among Valcke's concerns are the repeated delays in stadium construction. The 12 World Cup venues were supposed to be ready in December, but half those stadiums weren't completed on time, leaving FIFA with no choice but to push that deadline back. The latest delivery date is May 15, less a month before the tournament's first game.
And that date was set before construction was halted again Thursday at Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba after a worker died in an electrical accident.
Muhammad Ali Maciel Afonso, 32, was killed by an electric shock while working at the stadium, which is still missing seats because of delivery delays. He is the eighth worker to die during construction of a stadium for this World Cup.
U.S. venue passes test
Speaking of stadium concerns, Arena das Dunas in Natal, where the U.S. will play its opening match with Ghana, staged its third test event last weekend when it played host to Brazilian second division game between ABC and America-RN.
Ten operational areas were tested at the match, from spectator and medical services to media operations, and afterward the local organizing committee pronounced the venue ready for June.
Police threaten strike
Incomplete stadiums and the threat of popular street protests over the $11 billion spent to stage the World Cup are not the only things causing FIFA officials concern as the tournament nears.
Now federal police in Brazil are promising to strike if the government doesn't increase their pay and improve their working conditions. According to the Associated Press, officers rallied Wednesday outside the Rio de Janeiro hall where national team Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari announced this World Cup roster.
Protesters carried a life-size inflatable white elephant, symbolizing the high costs of the tournament, while at Copacabana Beach other demonstrators lined up soccer balls with red crosses showing photos of people who have been killed or injured in gunfights in Rio slums the government says have been "pacified."