Breathe. It's all...probably...going to be OK, US Soccer fans.
The first Sunday of any NFL regular season is always awesome. An afternoon and evening filled with (American) football also provided a bit of therapy for supporters of the US Men's National Team following Friday's shocker at Jamaica. The 2-1 loss to Jamaica was bad, and there's no denying that. With that said, nobody, not even the most pessimistic observer, should be wasting time doing any type of math in order to figure out how the United States will qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
One thing changed for the Americans after the loss to Jamaica, and that is that the USMNT cannot afford another slip-up over their next three qualifiers. Perhaps I've just been overly realistic since the start of this process back in June, but I always assumed that would be the case for the US heading into their September 11 showdown with Jamaica. I'll explain below.
I expected that the US would take care of business on home soil against Antigua & Barbuda back in early June, which they did but in unimpressive fashion. Away games at Guatemala and Jamaica always concerned me. Truth be told, I would have been thrilled if the US would have earned two points out of a possible six in those matches. That didn't happen, of course, and now the Americans are on four points, tied with Guatemala and three points behind group leaders Jamaica.
The second half of the team's qualifiers should be smooth sailing. One has to assume that a hungry United States squad looking for revenge will send a statement to Jamaica on Tuesday night at Columbus Crew Stadium. Let's also, for funsies, say that Guatemala earn a victory over Antigua & Barbuda on that same night. That would make for a three-way tie in the group.
Not a single part of me believes a US squad that should be more full on October 12 than it is right now will struggle to earn three points when away to A & B. Guatemala will play hosts to Jamaica on that same night. That match ending in a draw certainly wouldn't shock me, and it would also be the perfect result for the USMNT assuming that the US defeat A & B.
The United States then wrap things up on October 16 when they host Guatemala. I do remember that Guatemala earned a 1-1 draw against the US back in June. The October clash involving those two teams will take place at Livestrong Sporting Park, though. Ask yourself this question: Do you really believe that, with (maybe) everything to play for, the United States will drop points against Guatemala in a match that's taking place in Kansas City?
I'm not saying that fans shouldn't be annoyed about the team's play on Friday, or that you shouldn't be at least a little nervous about Tuesday's game. Just remember that we've been down this road with US Soccer; many, many times. All fans and analysts may sound any and all alarms if the US fail to avenge the loss to Jamaica on September 11. Just try and stay cool and calm until Tuesday night, and be confident that things will be back to normal sooner than later.
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