Soccer legend Pele has dropped a bombshell of sorts by suggesting that US soccer is at the same level as in Europe.
The Brazilian great, who acts as honorary president of North American Soccer League (NASL) club New York Cosmos, told the Miami Herald that he believes the USA national team is capable of progressing to the knockout phase of the 2014 World Cup despite being in a tough group alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana.
"People don't remember, when I arrived, soccer in this country was good, but mostly with children," said Pele regarding his initial arrival in the States in the 1970s with the old NY Cosmos.
"Today, the US is the same level as Europe - they almost made semi-finals in the 2002 World Cup, and the base is more organized than in Brazil and maybe all of South America. I am happy because I feel I was part of it."
Of the US boss Juergen Klinsmann and his side, Pele added: "Klinsmann is a great trainer and has a lot of experience.
"We have to respect American soccer today. The US group is very difficult with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, but soccer is a box of surprises, so nobody knows what will happen.
"I think American fans should be hopeful, and I have no doubt they are good enough to advance."
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