Specs starts in US victory

Jonathan Spector is relishing the challenge of winning a starting place in the United States' starting XI for their FIFA World Cup match with England.

The West Ham United defender has lined up across the back four for Bob Bradley's side since making his international debut against Jamaica in November 2004.

Although his preferred position is centre-back, the 24-year-old featured at right-back in the Americans' march to the FIFA Confederations Cup final in South Africa a year ago, while he was a regular at left-back for the Hammers this season.


Spector is expected to battle Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo for the starting right-back berth at the World Cup, although US commentators have speculated that he could also challenge Chivas USA star Jonathan Bornstein and IK Start player Clarence Goodson for the left-back position.

The Americans completed their World Cup preparations by taking on Turkey in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday, with the West Ham player returning to the starting XI after missing the 4-2 defeat by the Czech Republic in Hartford, Connecticut the previous Tuesday.

Spector played the opening 45 minutes at right-back before being replaced by Cherundolo as the US battled back from a goal down to secure a 2-1 win thanks to second-half goals from former Hull City striker Jozy Altidore and Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey.

Wherever he plays against England in Rustenburg on 12 June, the Illinois-born player insisted everyone in Bradley's squad will be pulling in the same direction.

"Everyone gets along really well and I think we're all happy to be starting our preparations for the World Cup," said Spector. "We're all excited about it and there's a collective belief that we can do something special in South Africa.

"Every time you step out on to the field, you are competing for a place. I think that's a good thing. It's not just the guys who are here right now, but we're grateful to all the guys who have been in camp previously for pushing to make each other better. The competition for places in the team is certainly a good thing."

Jonathan Spector

Spector missed the 2006 World Cup in Germany after suffering a serious shoulder injury. He was also sidelined for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing after undergoing surgery for a hip flexor problem.

This summer, however, it now appears certain that Spector will appear in the world's biggest tournament for the first time in his career.