With Mexico and the United States dominating the region, it is easy to understand why many around the world view CONCACAF on a lower level than, say, UEFA and CONMEBOL.
But U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann believes his team faces challenges that other nations wouldn't be used to, including hostile environments, poor pitches and lousy refereeing. He's not making excuses, but that's just the reality of playing road World Cup qualifying matches in Central America and the Caribbean.
"Europeans and South Americans may think that this region looks pretty easy because they don’t play here and they never experienced it," Klinsmann said to U.S Soccer's official website.
"European coaches tell me you should qualify no problem, and I tell them, ‘Why don’t you come over and I’ll take you to Guatemala and Costa Rica and Jamaica and you’ll see.' It would be an eye-opener for a lot of people in Europe to see our qualifying campaign."
"But at the end of the day, we need to qualify, we have to qualify, and we will qualify. But you have to prepare yourself in a perfect way.”
Since Klinsmann took over in the summer of 2011, the German-born boss has led the Americans to historic road wins over Italy and Mexico - in friendlies. In meaningful games, he has struggled and his future with the national team could be in jeopardy if he doesn't qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
After four of six matches in Group A of the semifinal round of qualifying, the U.S. is in a three-way tie for first place with Guatemala and Jamaica with seven points apiece. Antigua & Barbuda sits in last with just one point. The top two teams will advance.
“I think everybody familiar with CONCACAF can tell you that it is not an easy qualifying campaign," Klinsmann said. "It’s very tricky, especially the first group stage where only two teams out of four are going forward. In every group you have three very strong teams, like we have in our group.
"You have to adjust to the different environments, fields, refereeing - everything comes into play, so you have to really give everything you have in order to win or tie those games on the road. And then obviously you are always under pressure to win your games at home."
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