Qualifying for a World Cup is rarely easy in CONCACAF. That’s something we’ve gone over in depth before, and will likely repeat once the United States men’s national team arrives in the Hex.
Even the most passionate anti-Klinsmann critic expects the Yanks to handle their business in the pair of qualifiers this week; The U.S. smashed Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6-1 and drew on the road at Trinidad and Tobago. Venue changes shouldn’t change those results too much.
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That brings us to Friday’s 3:30 p.m. EDT kickoff. A win at Arnos Vale Stadium in Kingstown would give the Yanks 10 points and the chance at qualifying for the fifth round before its final group match (Tuesday against T&T in Jacksonville).
SVG has made Friday a national half-day to observe the match, and the tiny nation would need an unseen performance to shock the U.S. The Vincy Heat are 0-4 with a minus-19 goal differential, managing a lone close match of the quartet.
So a win should happen. If T&T plays ball by handling its business at home against Guatemala, the U.S. is through. If Guatemala wins or manages a draw, the Yanks would have to hold T&T in Jacksonville or hope SVG stuns Guatemala on the final match day.
The U.S. will be shorthanded against SVG, with important pieces Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey and John Anthony Brooks unavailable.
But Jozy Altidore has been fit and strong for Toronto FC, and probable replacements Matt Besler and Kyle Beckerman are unlikely to struggle with the threats presented by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
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Those threats include Seattle Sounders backup Oalex Anderson and young Parham FC striker Tevin Slater.
The best case for the U.S. is quick early goals that allow debuts and/or valuable development time for players like Caleb Stanko, Darlington Nagbe, Rubio Rubin, and Paul Arriola, plus a T&T win over Guatemala.
The worst case is a slim victory in a humid and hostile climate that taxes the regulars, coupled with a Guatemala win that has T&T desperate and ornery in Tuesday’s final group match.
We think this will all go according to plan for Klinsmann, though, and the Yanks emerge with a 4-0 win.