Obama gives U.S. team presidential approval

The squad met President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton at the White House on Thursday, posing for photographs and swapping jokes about the team's apparel.

"Although sometimes we don't remember here in the United States, this is going to be the biggest world (stage) and you're going to be representing all of us. We are incredibly proud of what you've done already."

Clinton, recently appointed to the U.S. bid team hoping to secure hosting rights to the 2018 or 2022 World Cup, joined the irreverent mood with a wisecrack about the player's fashion sense.

"I want to be on this team just for the shoes," he said. "This is the only team that I've ever seen that had these cool shoes."

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard told Reuters all the players got a real kick out of meeting Obama.

"It was pretty awesome," Howard said in a telephone interview. "He was excited for us of course, he knows what a big stage this and the enormity was certainly not lost on him, he understands it quite well."

The U.S. play Turkey in a warm-up in Philadelphia on Saturday before jetting off to South Africa to finalize their preparations.

Their opening game is against England in Rustenburg on June 12.

(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Ed Osmond)