U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann did not mince words Monday: It's win or else for the USA against Costa Rica.
After falling to Honduras in the opening game of the 10-match CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Hexagonal, the U.S. squares off with Los Ticos at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado on Friday ahead of Tuesday's match against Mexico at Estadio Azteca.
Failing to secure a win Friday would be the U.S. in a precarious situation early on in the final qualifying round, and Klinsmann knows that taking care of business at home on Friday, and throughout the Hexagonal, is imperative to the team securing a coveted berth at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
"Every home game in a Hexagonal is a must-win situation," Klinsmann said on a conference call with national reporters. "You want to get all the points possible in your home games. It's a must-win on Friday night here against Costa Rica, which we approach that way."
Accomplishing that task won't be easy considering how many injuries and absences the Americans are currently combating. In addition to Landon Donovan's hiatus from playing, captain Carlos Bocanegra was left off the roster with him not playing in more than six weeks for his club team, Racing Santander. Goalkeeper Tim Howard, right backs Steve Cherundolo, Timmy Chandler and Jonathan Spector, left backs Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo and midfielders Danny Williams and Jose Torres are all out injured, leaving a makeshift roster light on World Cup qualifying experience to take on the challenge of earning crucial points.
"When I coached the German team we had moments like that, and on the club level as well," Klinsmann said. "There are moments when things come together and it works in a certain way. The good thing about it is whenever somebody can't come in, it's a huge opportunity for the one that is stepping in and wants to prove his point."
Klinsmann referred to the usefulness of the January training camp, which allowed MLS and national team candidates to get playing time under his watchful eye. Fullback call-ups Tony Beltran and Justin Morrow are the latest examples of that, following in Geoff Cameron and Graham Zusi's footsteps from a year ago. He will be counting on them, in addition to the versatility of other players such as Cameron, Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley to get three points off Los Ticos.
"We are not complaining about the situation," Klinsmann said. "We take it the way it is. Do we wish to have those players back as soon as possible? Absolutely, but it is what it is, so we are comfortable with this roster and the guys coming into Denver now to get the job done."
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