A dream draw for England, the third favourites for the 2010 World Cup, Group C looks set to be all about which team will finish second behind the 1966 winners, with the USA heading the chasing pack.
The Americans have a strong recent record in international competitions, winning the Gold Cup in 2002, 2005 and 2007, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup and featuring in the final of the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Despite these impressive achievements, defeat in the Gold Cup last year hit the team hard. Not only was it in their own back-yard against fierce rivals Mexico, but they were thrashed 5-0 in a match they had been expected to win.
The criticism from an always confrontational national media continued into their World Cup qualification campaign three months later and was quietened only slightly when they finished top of the final qualifying table.
Public doubts persist over their consistency and depth of their squad, although the same problems were highlighted before the 2002 World Cup when their organisation and energy proved enough to beat Portugal and Mexico.
While these attributes remain their main strength, they have continued to develop more technically gifted players and in Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan they have creative options with proven pedigree.
Slovenia come to South Africa with smaller expectations, hoping to at least improve on their only World Cup appearance in 2002 when they failed to pick up a point. As long as that is their only aim they may well leave happy.
They are without a great star but they have a squad with deeper European experience than eight years ago and a strong spine.
Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has had a solid season in Serie A with Udinese, Robert Koren and Auxerre's Valter Birsa are clever midfield players and, in Milivoje Novakovic, they have a proven international goalscorer.
Algeria have a longer World Cup history than Slovenia, qualifying twice before, but are likely to have similar expectations to the European side after a mixed Africa Cup of Nations in January.
Unlike Slovenia they have a handful of stars, such as defenders Nadir Belhadj and Madjid Bougherra, but have little depth especially with midfielder Mourad Meghni of Lazio ruled out due to injury.
In reality though anything other than three wins would be a disappointment for England, who might even have preferred a slightly tougher group in which to test themselves before the second round when Serbia or Ghana should lie in wait.
Beyond that much will depend on the form of forward Wayne Rooney, who will be relied upon for goals, while the Group C runners up will be the underdogs against, probably, Germany in the last 16.