It seems a long time has passed since the inspiring 5-1 victory over Scotland. What was initially seen as a rallying point for American soccer to gain international attention turned into a minor blip following the beating by Brazil and the humbling 0-0 draw with Canada; I may add that the match featured the starting duo of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey that all of America seemed to be eager to watch and were regretfully disappointed in actual viewing.
It was not to be, and team USA stumbles ahead into 2014 World Cup qualification. The first match pits America against Antigua and Barbuda, a combined island nation from the Caribbean. The United States players seemed to be dreaming of such island beaches during their poor recent showings and as such this match will hopefully repair some of their bruised egos.
A quick scan of the Antigua and Barbuda team shows a squad made up mostly of players from Antigua Barracuda FC, a startup club in the new USL Pro League, which comprises of a host of Caribbean clubs. A few of their players reside in the lower echelons of British soccer, such as Mikele Leigertwood who plays for Reading FC.
This match is a must win for America. They will have a roaring home support in Tampa, Florida at Raymond James Stadium. The players play for far more competitive clubs such as Dempsey’s Fulham and Jozy Altidore’s AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. There is absolutely no way that coach Jurgen Klinsmann can let the United States lose this match. In fact, I would go as far as to state that such a loss should result in his immediate dismissal.
The fun games are over. America showed that we can dominate a European team, play averagely against a marginal border rival, and get plastered by the world’s best. It seems as if the friendly matches asked a lot more questions than it did to answer them. The USA team can seemingly beat anyone on their day but can also be abused if things aren’t going their way. Now it is time to prove that we belong in the 2014 World Cup.
I fully expect America to win this match, and by a wide margin too. Surely heads will have been hanging after the disappointing Canada draw, but Antigua and Barbuda aren’t even on that talent level. I feel people will start talking about that Dempsey and Donovan relationship a whole lot more once they set off some fireworks in this one. America will win, 6-0.