[THREE THOUGHTS ON ... USA-Guatemala] The U.S. national team completed its fourth week together on Sunday as it flew off to Guatemala City. It seems like an eternity to gather for two games, Friday's Antigua & Barbuda game and Tuesday's key World Cup 2014 qualifier against Guatemala. After looking sharp in the opening friendly against Scotland, the U.S. play has looked increasingly ragged. The lack of movement off the ball was a key issue against Antigua & Barbuda, and it was the mark of a tired team. For more on the USA ahead of Tuesday's game ...
THE LEFT BACK JINX. Jurgen Klinsmann assured everyone there is no shortage of options at left back.
“We always have left backs. Anybody can play left back,” Klinsmann said with a laugh. “We had [assistant coach] Andy Herzog play left back, [but] he doesn’t have an American passport. We’ll figure it out. We’ll find solutions.”
Unfortunately, this was before Jose Torres went down with an ankle injury.
Options at left back for Tuesday's game include bringing back Fabian Johnson, injured in warm-ups before the Canada friendly, moving Carlos Bocanegra over from center back or going with Michael Parkhurst.
Klinsmann is likely to go with the latter option, even if left back is a position at which Parkhurst has only played occasionally for Danish champion FC Nordsjaelland.
It would be risky to bring back Johnson, while there are not exactly many choices to replace Bocanegra in the middle.
There is no way Klinsmann is going with a repeat of the move he made after Torres got hurt and start Oguchi Onyewu in the middle. The only other player available to play alongside Clarence Goodson in the back is Geoff Cameron, and Klinsmann hasn't played him since the first game against Scotland.
THE RIGHT BACK FUTURE.Some may say left back wouldn't be a problem if Tim Chandler had committed to the USA, but it says here he is needed at right back, not left back, perhaps not now, but soon.
Steve Cherundolo has been perhaps the most underrated U.S. player of the last decade, but he is getting up there in years. He'll be 35 by the 2014 World Cup.
He's played all four games at right back and has been quieter than usual.
Chandler on the right and Johnson on the left would be a great combo on the outside that the USA could run with for a decade.
FEAR FACTOR.How much should the USA fear Guatemala? After all, the USA has not lost to the Chapines in almost a quarter of a century, a streak of 17 games.
It's traveled to Mateo Flores Stadium three times for World Cup qualifiers and has never lost. The most recent game came four years ago at the same stage of Concacaf qualifying, and the USA won, 1-0.
But there was the sense that Tuesday's game is a game the USA fears -- even if Guatemala is coming off a 2-1 loss to Jamaica in its opening qualifier and lost three key players in a game-fixing investigation.
"We have to give Guatemala a real fight," said Klinsmann after the Antigua & Barbuda game.
His words didn't exactly smack of confidence.