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COLUMBUS, Ohio– The task is a clear one for the U.S. Men's National Team. Win tonight and they ease the pressure on their chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Tie or lose and the Americans are facing a pressure-packed final two qualifiers come October with no more margin for error.
There were few positives from last Friday's 2-1 loss in Kingston against a Jamaican side that drew energy from a great crowd at 'The Office', but now the 'Reggae Boyz' must show that they can deliver on the road, where they don't have much of a history of success in qualifying.
A recurring theme for the Americans in the days after Friday's loss has been the importance of playing on a smooth surface at Crew Stadium, and how that will help the U.S. play the quick-passing possession game that can break down a fast and athletic, but at times disorganized Jamaican defense.
Jurgen Klinsmann will need to settle on a starting lineup that will not only have the energy to match Jamaica's, but also the technical skill to create more chances than the squad that took the field on Friday.
As bad as the Americans were on Friday, it isn't a foregone conclusion that Klinsmann will make wholesale lineup changes tonight. Brek Shea seems like the safest bet to break into the starting lineup, while Kyle Beckerman is the best bet to be on the bench after starting Friday. Beyond that, however, there is a good chance we could see as many as nine starters from Friday taking the field tonight (Clarence Goodson is suspended).
As we get closer to tonight's match, please feel free to make this your place for pre-match conversation on tonight's crucial qualifier. Who are you hoping to see start? Who are you hoping stays on the bench? Think the USMNT responds with a big win tonight?
Share your thoughts below.