BY PATRICK MacDONALD
The overly arduous journey that was the third round of World Cup Qualifying comes to an end tonight for the United States at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City. The squad the U.S. faces is Guatemala, the team currently tied with the U.S. atop the Group A. Neither team has punched their ticket to the hexagonal yet, but a tie will get them there.
So there you have it. U.S. fans (and Guatemalan fans for that matter) could be in for a real snooze fest. With a tie being enough to keep Jamaica at bay and both team’s World Cup hopes alive, why take any risks? Hell, Klinsmann could even play his beloved 3 defensive midfielder lineup and it’d work out just fine.
However, there’s a bigger question at hand for the U.S. national team. That question is Jurgen Klinsmann.
During this World Cup cycle, the man has offered plenty more questions than answers. In many respects, the U.S. looks to have regressed under his tutelage. Sure, there are the big wins in friendlies versus Italy, Scotland, and Mexico, but there’s also the big loss against Jamaica when it mattered, as well as struggles against a cupcake like Antigua and Barbuda. So the question remains, will a nil-nil tie be enough for Jurgen Klinsmann to even keep his job?
Klinsmann was brought in with a significant amount of fanfare. He was expected to bring exciting attack minded soccer to the U.S. national team. Thus far, he has failed. It’s easy to surmise that as the team now stands, he is well overpaid and underachieving. It’s nevertheless likely that he’s still in good graces of Sunil Gulati and company, even if he isn’t with the fans.
Of course Klinsmann’s job isn’t to placate the fans, it’s to win soccer matches. Nevertheless even to the most casual fan can see the … ahem … waste Klnsmann’s shoveling isn’t passing the eyeball test. Bunkering in and going for a draw tonight will do nothing to placate anyone. However, if Klinsmann allows his team to feed off the energy that will undoubtedly fill the sold out Livestrong and take the match to the Guatemalans, he could go a long way to restoring some good will and bring about harmony in U.S. Soccerland.
He’d be wise to be aggressive because come crunch time in the Hex, he can’t afford many more performances like the ones we’ve seen in Round 3.
Prediction: U.S. 2-0