STANFORD -- The U.S. soccer team opened its World Cup training camp Wednesday at Stanford with coach Jurgen Klinsmann offering a pointed assessment of his team's readiness in comparison to its competition in Group G.

"A lot of our guys don't have the same foundation,'' Klinsmann said, noting that many opposing players have participated in the Champions League or various international cup matches in recent weeks.

"We're behind,'' he continued. "We know where we stand in comparison. That's why we start earlier and work harder.''

The U.S. begins play June 16 against Ghana, then faces Portugal and Germany in the so-called Group of Death.

Klinsmann's most immediate task during the two-week training period is to whittle his 30-man roster to 23.

Brazil and Mexico are among the teams that called just 23 players — their final World Cup rosters — to training camp.

Klinsmann opted for the full 30, meaning he must cut seven players by June 2.

"We're not sure yet — simple as that,'' he said. "We have 50-50 cases all over the place ...

"But this is World Cup preparation. We have to build a foundation. We're doing our homework, fine-tuning elements, building every piece if it's tactical, technical and chemistry-wise.''

  • The U.S. team was greeted with banners in Portuguese inside Stanford Stadium. But with 30 players fighting for 23 precious roster spots no one will have time to enjoy the decorations as Klinsmann and his assistants make the final cuts while preparing the Americans for the big Group G opener June 16 in Natal against Ghana.


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    "The next two weeks we have to prove we're all ready to go," Earthquakes star defender Clarence Goodson said.

    Klinsmann has a backline with virtually no World Cup experience. Goodson, 31, made the 2010 team but didn't play in South Africa four years ago. Now, it seems, he is contending for a starting spot at center back.

    "I worked hard to make the last World Cup, but this will be the biggest one ever," Goodson said. "I want to be part of that and step on the field and represent our country."

    Since arriving in San Jose last summer after six years in Europe, Goodson has been one of America's best defenders. He not only transformed the Quakes' defense but helped the United States qualify for the World Cup finals.

    "I need to continue to be a good leader and be calm on the ball, help organize the team and prove I fit in well with the whoever I play with next to me," he said.

    Goodson hopes to bring the same intensity to the national team that he has to the Earthquakes.

    "At the end of the day, if you don't give up goals you're in the game," he said, repeating a sentiment he regularly expresses with his Major League Soccer team.

  • Reporters asked Danville native Chris Wondolowski if just making the 30-man provisional roster was a victory. Those who know the Quakes' scoring leader could predict his response:

    "It is," he agreed. "But I am not content yet. I want to make the 23 and once I do I want to try to make an impact, whether it is starting or coming off the bench."

  • DaMarcus Beasley, a two-time World Cup veteran, likes the composition of the U.S. team headed to Brazil.

    "This is the best team from experience and depth of players and the guys in their prime," he said. "It's maybe the deepest national team we've ever had. There could have been 40 guys he could have brought in."

    Beasley, 31, has played for three U.S. coaches: Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley and now Klinsmann, who recruited the outside midfielder back to the team.

    But the veteran who plays for Puebla of the Mexican League has no clue as to how the two-week camp at Stanford will go.

    "I'm sure they know what they are going to do," Beasley said of Klinsmann and his staff. "I don't know what is going to happen, I don't how they are going to train. I don't know if the emphasis will be more on fitness, more on team, more on ballwork. I don't know."

    Beasley's evaluation of the three national team coaches he has served:

    "Bruce was more relaxed, more laid back approach. Bob was very organized, very straightforward. He knew what he wanted out of every single player. Klinsmann has a little bit of both. He has that German mentality. But at the same time, Klinsmann lets you express yourself on the field. He gives you the lineup and his tactics, and says, 'Go out and do it, show why you should be starting on the national team.' "

  • The Americans came to Stanford because Klinsmann, a former German star, sought out the campus, according to a U.S. soccer official.

    Klinsmann chose Stanford for its well-groomed football and soccer facilities, and also because of the mild Bay Area weather that endured unseasonably warm temperature for the camp's opening day.

    Klinsmann didn't want to train in a locale that was too hot or humid as he plans to get the players as fit as possible heading into Brazil.

    Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond. Contact him Jon Wilner at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.