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World Cup: U.S. road to second round easier as Algeria starter Mourad Maghni is forced out by injury

May 25, 2010 | 12:47 pm

World-cup_400 The prospect of the United States advancing to the second round of the World Cup improved fractionally on Tuesday when Algeria lost one of its starting midfielders for the June 11-July 11 tournament in South Africa.

Mourad Maghni, a 26-year-old who had played for France on the youth level before switching allegiance to the Desert Foxes, failed a medical examination and now faces surgery on his troublesome left knee.

The Parisian-born Maghni had been battling to regain full use of the knee since first injuring it in November but ultimately was unable to correct the problem.

A statement issued by the Algerian soccer federation on its website said that "despite the exceptional will and courage of the player ... and all measures taken by the federation to provide for the best possible care, he cannot unfortunately take part" in the World Cup.

Maghni, who plays for Lazio in Italy's Serie A and who helped France win the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in 2001, made his debut for Algeria in August.

The U.S. plays Algeria in its potentially decisive third first-round game in Pretoria on June 23 after earlier playing England in Rustenburg on June 12 and Slovenia in Johannesburg on June 18.

-- Grahame L. Jones

Photo: Mourad Meghini sits during a practice session Tuesday. Credit: Philippe Desmazes / AFP / Getty Images.

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