Stoppage Time: Warning signs for U.S. ahead of Cup qualifier

4:32 PM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The U.S. men's national soccer team has already been "warned," according to coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Winning matches in CONCACAF is not guaranteed, especially on the road, no matter the opponent.

"We have been warned," Klinsmann said, "and we are aware of it."

The United States has yet to win on the road in two qualifiers and CONCACAF is just at the semifinal group stage. The Americans tied Guatemala, 1-1, in June, on the road and lost at Jamaica, 2-1, in September.

Level on seven points with Guatemala and Jamaica with two matches remaining in the round, the United States cannot afford to drop points in its final fixture away from home during the semifinal stage at Antigua and Barbuda on Friday.

Not with a World Cup appearance at stake.

Klinsmann was not foolish enough to put anything in the bag. Even against the weakest team in the group.

Antigua and Barbuda has just one point from its first four games, but the tiny Caribbean nation tied Jamaica at home in June and lost only, 1-0, to Guatemala at home in September.

"This is not an easy game," Klinsmann said. "It's going to be a difficult game because, for them, it's the game of the decade."

The United States may want to approach the match the exact same way. A regular in the World Cup since 1990, the Americans are walking a fine line.

Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua could be the site that can leave the Americans the brink of elimination from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil - or helps them put one foot in the final stage in CONCACAF.

With just a home match against Guatemala remaining Tuesday in this part of the qualifying tournament, three points on the road would put the United States in position to seal its advancement with another win at home.

"The points ... are the most important thing," Klinsmann said.

The top two teams from Group A, one of three four-team groups in the semifinal stage, will advance to the final qualifying round in CONCACAF.

The United States will throw style out the window for a win, and with injuries piling up in the days leading up the match, that will be the only goal.

Landon Donovan is out with a knee injury, Fabian Johnson has the flu, and Brek Shea and Edgar Castillo are others sidelined with injury.

Klinsmann will welcome one crucial piece back in midfielder Michael Bradley, a dynamic presence in the center of the field who was missing for both September qualifiers against Jamaica. The Americans edged Jamaica at home, 1-0.

"It's not fun," Bradley said. "Hopefully, it's the last time for a while that I won't be around."

The United States just hopes to be around for a while longer in qualifying, as an exit at this stage would likely cost Klinsmann his job, and have a negative impact on the program.

Although Klinsmann has guided the United States to historic wins in Italy and Mexico, a win at Antigua and Barbuda would quickly become the most meaningful away win of his tenure. Because this time, there is much more on the line.

The United States has been warned not to take anything for granted.

The Sports Network

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