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Sports

Home Game No Guarantee of Fan Support for Klinsmann

After a 4-1 rout in Italy, the German national team will be looking to fans in Dortmund for a confidence boost during its friendly against the USA. But just how much help they'll be willing to provide remains in doubt.

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What kind of reception will Klinsmann get on Wednesday?

Playing in Signal Iduna Park, Germany's largest stadium, Jürgen Klinsmann's team would normally be able to count on massive public support of some 70,000 fans, but the coach may be met with jeers of opposition for his decision to cut Dortmund's Christian Wörns from the national team.

After being criticized for his decision to continue living in California while coaching the German team and even accused of damaging the German economy, a convincing win against the United States Wednesday evening could help fans realize the former German world champion's coaching commitment.

"I take this job very seriously," he told a group of journalists, before pointing out that it's the games in this summer's World Cup that will mean the most. "If we win our first two games, everyone will try to jump on our train, but the train will have left already."

But even Germany's soccer aficionado and president of the 2006 World Cup Organizing Committee Franz Beckenbauer said he thinks Germany needs to starting seeing results soon because "time is running out."

"It's a very important game for us," said German midfielder and sometimes captain Michael Ballack. "It's a decisive game for our confidence, for the mood in the team."

US aware of pressure on Germany

The American competition also knows they'll be entering a highly-charged domestic atmosphere when they take to the pitch.

"It's a big deal to these people," said American defender Steve Cherundolo, who plays for Hanover in the Bundesliga. "They take it very seriously, as they should, and things haven't gone well the past year and a half."

US coach Bruce Arena said he wouldn't be able field his strongest side because of injuries and Europe-based players whose club teams won't release them for the friendly. Instead he said the game will help him make decisions on individual players before announcing his World Cup line-up.

"Although we will be playing with a less than full roster, this game will provide an outstanding opportunity for some of our players to show they deserve strong consideration for the World Cup," Arena said. "The German team will be prepared to play their best against us and this will be an incredible challenge for our players."

US experience comes from Bundesliga

Kasey Keller Torwart Fußball USA

US goalkeeper Kasey Keller

Three Germany-based Americans, including goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who will provide added experience to a group of players lacking experience together.

"It would be extreme to call this a B-team," Keller told reporters Monday. "But we are missing about a dozen players,"

Germany and the United States last met at the 2002 World Cup quarter-final, which Germany won 1-0 before losing to Brazil in the final.

While anything less than a repeat performance will leave Klinsmann hoping the 11,000 t-shirts being giving away will suffice to keep fans from calling for his resignation, Arena stressed that both teams are still in the calm before the World Cup storm.

"I think in the big picture, a result in this game isn't critical for either team," Arena said. "The goal is to have your team ready for the opening game of the World Cup."

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