NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bruce Arena thinks the U.S. soccer team is on equal footing with some of the world's top teams as the Americans prepare for the World Cup.
"Are we ready yet to win a World Cup? I don't think so, but I think we're ready to compete with the best countries in the world. We've demonstrated that," the U.S. coach said Wednesday. "My expectations are very similar to 2002. Our goals are to advance. If we can do that and get to the round of 16, anything can happen."
The United States rose to an all-time high fourth Wednesday in the FIFA world rankings, trailing only Brazil, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
Arena coached the Americans to the quarterfinals of the 2002 tournament, where they lost to Germany 1-0. He spoke at a news conference promoting his team's next game, a May 23 exhibition against Morocco.
When The Coliseum was built in the late 1990s, planners did so with FIFA events in mind, making it one of the few NFL venues that can fit a regulation soccer field. Approximately 7,500 tickets have been sold for the game.
"We're hoping that ticket sales continue to go along very, very well, because if we're successful, hopefully, we'll be one of the top candidates for a World Cup qualifier down the road," Titans executive vice president Don MacLachlan said.
After meeting Morocco, the Americans play Venezuela on May 26 at Cleveland and then face Latvia on May 28 at East Hartford, Conn.
At the World Cup in Germany, they open against the Czech Republic on June 12, play Italy five days later and then finish the first round against Ghana on June 17.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press