Clint Dempsey once again will lead the attacking
The USA sit behind Jamaica in Group A, tied for second with Guatemala. The Americans meet Jamaica today, for the second time in four days after their first match resulted in a historic victory for the Reggae Boyz. The Guatemalans travel to Antigua and Barbuda where they hope Carlos Ruiz and Dwight Pezzarossi, their in form strikers will continue to find their goalscoring touch.
Jamaica will advance to the fourth and final stage of World Cup qualifying if they win at Columbus today and Guatemala draw Antigua. Which will leave the USA in contention with Guatemala for the second spot to keep their World Cup hopes alive. The Guatemalans should they win today, will be firmly in second place and meet Jamaica at home in the tough climes of Estadio Mateo Flores while the USA travel to Antigua for their next series of encounters.
The final deciding spot may come down to the wire with USA vs Guatemala meeting in the final group stage match on October 16th at Livestrong Sporting Park. The USA can make thing easier for them if they win today's match. Columbus is a tough destination for any visiting team and it is a sold out match, so the home advantage works heavily in favour of the hosts. However, the USA is still without Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley who needless to say, missed in that loss. In addition, they do not have Clarence Goodson who can be a force on set pieces having picked up his second booking. Donovan is getting back to match fitness levels training and playing with the Galaxy's reserve team.
So what about that midfield connectivity that seemed to be missing in the Jamaica game? Klinsmann lost a lot of speed and transitional play starting Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu, and Jermaine Jones, three holding midfielders, who create a certain amount of redundancy. This time around Jose Francisco Torres who is not exactly a speed merchant either but at least can distribute the ball better upfield than Beckerman, Edu, or Jones can should get the nod. Klinsi can call on Graham Zusi to give more a of a creative spark in an advanced role.
The Americans will go against the centre back pairing of Adrian Mariappa and Nyron Nosworthy. The former is a hot prospect for Reading and the latter is a Watford veteran. It won't be easy scoring goals against this back four. The last time Dempsey pounced on a rebound off Nosworthy to score the first goal but only after the Jamaican defense had rebuffed Hercules Gomez twice.
Another concerning factor was the USA's inability to stop the Jamaicans scoring from those set pieces. This is a well coached Jamaican side which does not just resort to speed down the flanks through Dane Richards and Tremaine Stewart to create chances for Ryan Johnson but has shown they possess other scoring options.
USA probable starting XI: Tim Howard- Carlos Bocanegra- Geoff Cameron- Michael Parkhurst- Fabian Johnson- Maurice Edu- Jermaine Jones- Jose Francisco Torres- Clint Dempsey- Hercules Gomez- Josy Altidore