[USA-GUATEMALA] The USA and Guatemala will qualify for next year's Hexagonal with a tie in Tuesday's game at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City (TV: ESPN2,
Telefutura, 7 p.m. ET), but U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann insists his depleted team will attack. The USA's poor outing on Friday against Antigua & Barbuda
only added to the criticism of the national team under Klinsmann, but he took rising expectations as a good thing.
"We want to win this game," he said Monday. "You can only win a game if you attack and go forward. We are not looking for a tie."
With only 19 players left after injuries, illness and suspension -- three of them goalies -- Klinsmann doesn't have a lot options.
“We think this group gives us enough options to deal with those problems that have come up, whether it’s injures or a yellow card," he said. "We feel like we are strong enough to take care of Guatemala tomorrow night with the players that are here.”
Possible changes from Friday's game against Antigua & Barbuda include replacing the disappointing Herculez Gomez with Sacha Kljestan and moving Eddie Johnson into a more forward role and starting Michael Parkhurst at left back, where Carlos Bocanegra played on Friday. Johnson's stoppage-time goal gave the USA a 2-1 win over Antigua & Barbuda.
Klinsmann says it's exciting to see that the fans care more about the national team.
"They care more about soccer in general and they ask more questions than they have and raise their expectations, which is good," he said. "It gives everybody involved a bigger sense of accountability. You’re accountable for what you’re doing – me as a coach, as a player and everybody involved. I think that’s great."
This marks only the second time since FIFA adopted the Hexagonal for the final round of Concacaf qualifying that the USA needed a result in its final game of the semifinal round to advance.
"Now when you're down to the wire in the last game, it's because certain things happened for a reason," he continued. "We gave away too many free kicks in Jamaica and conceded two. Instead of taking a point away and being already through, you have to battle in the game tomorrow night. You just have to take it the way it is and work yourself through it. Sometimes it takes longer than you wish it would."
Klinsmann says his players know what to expect from Guatemala.
“It’s a team that plays very direct with long balls into Carlos Ruiz or into [Minor] Lopez," he said. "They drop the ball off and go for the second ball. They try to draw fouls close to the box and Marco Pappa, as he showed in the first game, is an excellent free kick taker. So, there are a couple of things to avoid. Don’t give them those free kicks, don’t give Pappa that opportunity to shot those ones and keep Ruiz out of the game. It’s a very difficult task, he’s on a roll. We are aware of that. We discussed that. We are well prepared.”
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
DEFENDERS (6): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Tijuana), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).
FORWARDS (4): Clint Dempsey (Tottenham), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders).