USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda: A Look Ahead

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

For U.S. Men’s National Team fans with long memories, the scenario must sound familiar. An American team heading to the Caribbean for what amounts to a must-win World Cup qualifier, and facing that challenge with a short-handed team.

Yes, that scenario should sound familiar because the U.S. went through it a dozen years ago during qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. Back in 2000, Bruce Arena took a short-handed U.S. team to Barbados needing a victory to secure passage to the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying. For 60 scoreless minutes, there looked like that qualification was in real jeopardy, but Clint Mathis opened the floodgates in an eventual 4-0 drubbing of Barbados.

Twelve years later, the U.S. national team faces a tougher opponent, and also the prospect of having two matches remaining instead of one, but the similarities are clear. The Americans need to win tonight (7pm, beIN Sport) or they risk putting themselves in serious jeopardy of not qualifying.

Making that task tougher is the absence of Landon Donovan, Fabian Johnson, Brek Shea and Edgar Castillo, all missing due to injuries. The Americans are still the favorites to leave the island of Antigua with three points, but it certainly isn’t going to be easy:

Antigua & Barbuda is actually not eliminated from qualifying just yet, and could still squeeze through with a pair of wins, but that isn’t likely to keep the home team from bunkering in and looking to catch the U.S. on the counter, or on a set piece. Tonight’s match will be played on a narrow field used more regularly for cricket, and the environment won’t be a friendly one for the U.S. to try and impose a possession style of play.

No, tonight’s match is shaping up to be an ugly battle, one where the midfields will butt heads for 90 minutes in what could be a sloppy swath of grass.

For Klinsmann, the absence of quality wing options will likely force him into trotting out a diamond midfield with natural central midfielders like Graham Zusi and Sacha Kljestan given the task of trying to unlock an Antigua & Barbuda defense expected to keep everybody behind the ball. The return of Michael Bradley should help that cause, but the Americans are still facing the likelihood of finding a scarcity of quality scoring chances against an opponent that will be content to sit in.

Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez could be in for a frustrating night, but both men have made a living on taking advantage of the chances that come their way, and both should be boosted by a midfield that will have plenty of possession.

The U.S. defense will be short-handed, with Michael Parkhurst or Carlos Bocanegra likely to deputize at left back, but a central defense of Geoff Cameron and Clarence Goodson (or Carlos Bocanegra) should have little to do in the run of play. Set piece defending will be key because it will be one of the few avenues for Antigua & Barbuda to find a goal.

Cameron’s ability to get forward from the back could come in handy and if Antigua & Barbuda is as defensive as expected, Cameron could  be a factor in helping breaking down the Antigua & Barbuda defense.

The Americans should find enough chances to break down the home team and secure the three points, but ugly weather conditions could make it that much tougher.

What do you think about tonight’s match? See the Americans securing the victory?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, U.S. Men's National Team, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda: A Look Ahead

  1. TomG says:

    This is going to be ugly, but I can’t imagine, even with the injuries and the erratic player choices, that USA could possibly not achieve the 3 points against a country with such a tiny population. I just hope and pray that I’m not sitting in front of my computer at 0-0 in the 80th minute, watching us launch random, blind crosses into the box hoping that the ball somehow bounces off Alan Gordon’s noggin and into the back of the net.

    I’m very disappointed with the approach for these matches (and indeed in general of late). Instead of finding a style that utilizes the talents of our most skilled players, the way Klinsi promised when he assumed the position, we have instead been transported back into England of 30 years ago, forced to watch our lesser skilled players huddle into a shell and playing kickball. We’ve scored more than one goal in 3 of Klinsi’s 16 matches and we seem to be going backwards rather than forwards. Let’s just hope for the best, I suppose.

    • TomG says:

      By contrast, under Bob’s last full year (2010), USA scored 2 or more goals in 6 of 14 matches so we are not merely staying the course, but we seem to be getting worse.

      • TomG says:

        Ugh, I know I sound like I’m saying, “Fire Klinsi!” I’m not. I think he deserved a chance, but I am definitely nervous that there doesn’t seem to be a consistent direction or vision forward and I would like to see that develop. Klinsi seems very erratic – always contradicting himself and changing his mind. We need someone directly over or under Klinsi to focus him.

        • Aaron in StL says:

          It just sounds a little chicken-little-ish. It’s still a work in progress. The goal is for the team to have it all together by the WC. The growing pains should be expected and are good for the team anyways. Without any obstacles from now until Brazil 2014 they wouldn’t gain anything.

          Interested to see if Klinsi goes ballsy and starts Gordon or something off the wall. If we can get one early tonight that would tip the scales in our favor tremendously.

          • Aaron in StL says:

            Replies don’t seem to be working… but that was in response to the more than 2 goals comment

          • QuakerOtis says:

            If that happens, I think the comments on SBI will be at least as entertaining as the game… maybe more.

        • biff says:

          Why are you worrying about it, TomG? You obviously have the right to state any opinion you want. I will say this: All options need to remain open. The decision is easy if we don’t make it to the Hex (bye-bye) or if we demolish A&B and Guatemala to move to the Hex (full speed ahead with the same management). But if the outcome of the next two games is more in the grey zone, such as lucky last second goals to squeak through to the Hex, the situation needs to be examined carefully and all options need to remain open.

          All that said, I will say that with the exception of no bona fide left back we have a strong core of dedicated players on this roster from which Klinsmann can choose a good starting team. I predict a 3-0 victory for the USMNT. And then we can all hope that Jamaica and Guatemala do not tie later tonight, as that would be the worst outcome for the USMNT.

      • betamale says:

        Not this sh!t again.

        Look Bob clearly ran his course. Not sure if you remember the games after the World Cup but it was obvious that his time was up. Getting crushed by Mexico in an otherwise forgettable Gold Cup by the team was the cap on an awful post-world cup run. No coach should last more than one World Cup and Bob was no exception.

        I simply don’t understand why people don’t want to move on….

        • betamale says:

          sorry that was in reply to someone clamoring for Bob’s return. Not sure why the comment didn’t get threaded.

        • Tony in Quakeland says:

          It’s not a question of not “moving on” if someone mentions Bradley. I liked him more than most, but I also feel two cycles is too long. Nonetheless, looking at what Bradley did – positives and negatives, achievements and tactics- is a perfectly legitimate way of benchmarking our progress. Or lack there of.

          The expectation around Klinsman was that he was going to bring us to the next level in some form or other. Comparing tactics, player decisions and results to his immediate predecessor is one of the only ways to see if that’s the case. Frankly, right now, i don’t see it.

          • TomG says:

            Yes, not a question of moving on from Bradley, but more of an assessment of are we improving? We’re clearly not going back to Bob, but are we moving in the correct direction with Juergen?

          • Siberian says:

            Here’s what I think about Bradley. I think Michael Bradley is going to dominate this game and deliver three points. Bradley is awesome!!!!!!!!

  2. Bizzy says:

    A&B:

    GOALKEEPERS (3): Molvin James (Antigua Barracuda FC), Keita De Castro (Antigua Barracuda FC), Brent Mohammed (Florida Institute of Technology)

    DEFENDERS (6): George Dublin (Antigua Barracuda FC), Akeem Thomas (Antigua Barracuda FC), Karanja Mack (Antigua Barracuda FC), Hazel Pyle (Antigua Barracuda FC), Marc Joseph (Kendal Town FC/England), Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell FC/Scotland)

    MIDFIELDERS (6): Tomarley Thomas (Antigua Barracuda FC), Luke Blakeley (Antigua Barracuda FC), Quinton Griffith (Antigua Barracuda FC), Randolph Burton (Antigua Barracuda FC), Mikele Leigertwood (Reading FC/England), Kieran Murtagh (Macclesfield Town FC/England)

    FORWARDS (4): Peter Byers (Antigua Barracuda FC), Stefan Smith (Antigua Barracuda FC), Dexter Blackstock (Nottingham Forest/England), Moses Ashikodi (Ebbstfleet United/England)

    Most of their players come from their home based club Antigua Barracuda FC…..this is a no brainer, if the US can’t beat them Klinsmann is to blame (not Altidore) and we dont deserve to qualify for the world cup. Against a top team in Antigua & Barbuda??? Ben Olsen can put together an all American MLS all-star team that’ll beat Antigua Barracuda FC(Antigua & Barbuda).

    • elgringorico says:

      Nice thought… Benny USMNT coach candidate in no more than 10 years, I’m calling it!

      • JRP says:

        Jason K gets a chance first. Just a guess. Both coaches have to transfer to another club and turn around a second sinking ship before they will be given the helm.

    • Todd Marsch says:

      Huh…so it likes their 3rd string keeper plays for my alma mater.

    • Bizzy says:

      “With a population of around 87,000, the small twin-island nation’s federation has tried to bolster its CONCACAF hopes by fielding a club team called Antigua Barracuda FC in USL PRO, the third-tier US pro league run by the United Soccer Leagues”. If these guys even score on us is a major, MAJOR disappointment….THIRD-TIER USL…..3rd level US Soccer, under MLS??? hahahahahahahahaha, WOW…..THERE SHOULD BE NO HYPE AT ALL FOR THIS GAME, EVEN IF HALF OUR Team WAS INJURED!!!!

  3. Francois says:

    I’m hoping we put up 3 or 4 goals, depending on the team Klinsi trots out, I think that is very doable.

  4. Sabella says:

    Is there anyway to stream this game online?

  5. Jeremy says:

    Is the game going to be live on beIN Sport for Comcast subscribers? When I try to find it in the guide, it isn’t showing until Midnight tonight.

    • Matt says:

      No. Comcast only has BeIN Spanish right now, and it’s showing on tape-delay.

    • Conrad says:

      Nope, Comcast only carries BeIN ñ, which is the Spanish version of the channel and will be carrying the game on an 8 hour delay. Ugh… I’ll be going on an internet blackout once the game starts until I can watch it 8 hours later. I REALLY miss DirecTV.

    • Dave says:

      Same question but for U-Verse: do they carry this? I’ve only had U-Verse for a month and I can still barely work the remote.

  6. Strider257 says:

    My question is why not bring in a few extra players. The MOST obvious is Lichaj, although there are a few good options from MLS too. Is this just stubbornness? You need to be flexible and respond to bad breaks rather than limit yourself to your initial options. If Klinsi can’t adjust, he won’t last long.

    • TomG says:

      Seems crazy to not bring in Lichaj, yes. I don’t get it. Knowing Klinsi, though, he’ll bring him in in a year, when he’s tried every possible other solution.

    • David M says:

      Lichaj’s main problem is that he didn’t grow up in Germany.

  7. Jeff Fulton says:

    New site looks awesome, by the way. On the other-hand, we are going to need an in-flux of bodies for the next match if this injury big continues.

  8. beachbum says:

    anyone know who the official is tonight?

  9. Bizzy says:

    Hmmmm……..Since SJ Earthquakes can surely beat Antigua Barracuda FC (with Wondo having a hatrick with good service) maybe we should just remove the none US players on the team and fill in with Nat players (Cameron, Bradley, Zusi, Williams etc). They already have good core players like Jon Busch, Morrow, Beitashour, Lenhart, Alan Gordon and Wondolowski…….. just a thought lol

  10. ex_sweeper says:

    A/B can only go through in the group if they win the next 2 games (for a total of 7 points) AND make up the goal difference (currently 7 below US/Guatemala and 6 below Jamaica). It would also require some unlikely sequence of results, such as the U.S. and Jamaica losing both of their final games. But that doesn’t mean they have nothing to play for.

  11. bryan says:

    i’ll be happy for a win tonight, obviously. but i’d like to see us put up 3 or 4 goals.

  12. Chris says:

    Anyone know the online stream link that this game will be available in?

  13. beachbum says:

    link to concacaf.com,,12813~2946580,00.html

    pre-game stuff from CONCACAF.com, lots of A&B coverage and quotes

  14. FK Pirin says:

    There is going to be a bad, narrow field, and it will most likely be raining.
    This is my lineup:

    Dempsey———Gordon————Gomez

    ——–Bradley—————–Klejstan——–

    ———————Williams———————–

    Bocanegra—–Cameron—-Edu—–Cherundolo

    Have Dempsey and Gomez Roam free and try to get into the box as often as possible. Gordon is tall, big, and fights. He could knock down dangerous crosses into the box for Dempsey and Gomez to put away.

    Have Cherundolo play in the attack and whip crosses in as often as possible. Have Bradley and Klejstan try and work some one-two passing behind the defense with the forwards, pump balls into the box, and take shots from distance. Have Bocanegra come up to help maintain possession and let Cameron and Edu deal with any speedy break-aways and, they could also serve balls over the top.

    The conditions won’t allow for a finesse game, a quick passing game, or a possession game. The US is going to have to be direct, and get the ball forward as quickly as possible. They will have to muscle a goal into the back of the net. We will have to use tactical fouling to stop any breakaways.

    • Raymon says:

      I know it’s only A&B but we still need a GK. I vote for Timmysafehands.

    • Big Chil says:

      I like your lineup and thinking. I’m thinking EJ is more likely to get the start, with more caps than Gordon. Gordon makes a great supersub in this game.

      Also, I think Zusi would be the right sided middie. Heard a rumor that Corona may actually get the start, though. Lineup should be coming out any minute now.

  15. Beto says:

    Is there really an SBI app?? The link doesnt lead to one…

    Back to tonight. I hope we score early and frequent. Take duece, bradley, boca, etc off asap to avoid injuries and yellow cards. I dont expect it to be pretty or easy but i hope it is efficent

  16. TomG says:

    I just hope we don’t see Jones or Williams on the wing. I’m actually kind of done with Jones, in general, unless Klinsi can find some way of utilizing him that raises his play to the level he shows at Schalke. He’s been just awful with USMNT. I wish Pontius was in camp, but I won’t be too upset if we see the wings occupied by Dempsey, Zusi, Kljestan, or Corona.

  17. mikeandike says:

    OK, everyone, can we step back a minute?

    A&B is literally a 3rd division team in American soccer… by how many goals would an average MLS team be favored over 3rd division A&B? 2? 3? 4?

    Now how about a team made up of the best Americans in MLS? 3?4?5?

    Now, how about a team of players from mostly first division, mid-table teams in England, Germany, Mexico, Italy and Denmark?

    This should not be a contest based on talent alone… don’t you think Andorra, San marion, Faroe islands, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein also bunker down against any team in Europe? They still get walloped…

    If U.S. does not win by at least 2 goals, the blame can be laid at the players’ effort and smarts, or at the coach’s tactics… and we all know in sports you can change coaches faster than players… so klinsi better jack these guys up to play….

  18. Brad says:

    Has any one seen a what if scenario, yet? Just wondering how our group could play out. And before you jump all over my back, with “you can figure it all out”, just know that I could, but would rather read it, as I am lazy, and also a little drunk. Cheers.

  19. beachbum says:

    just had a live look in at the field at the halftime of the Chile-Ecuador match. No wind at all, plenty warm, no rain at that moment.

    and it’s Cameron at LB with Fabian as the left mid, Demps and Gomez up top, Zusi out wide right

    btw, Alexis Sanchez has only touched the ball like 3 times in the entire first half for Chile. No service at all and absolutely dominated in the midfield by Ecuador

  20. David M says:

    Not a bad line-up under the circumstances. I’m really hoping that EJ will play like he has a lot to prove, which of course he does.

  21. THomas says:

    Holy eff relax if this game isn’t 4-0 or better we should forgoe our place in the hex. Have a few drinks and enjoy the show!!