American soccer fans have taken the USA’s participation in the World Cup as a given with the U.S. appearing in every final since 1986.
But that streak is in serious jeopardy, as defeat at home to Guatemala on Tuesday could see them eliminated.
It took an added time winner from Eddie Johnson for the Americans to get by minnows Antigua & Barbuda at the weekend, but Clint Dempsey is still confident that the Americans will get the job done in Kansas City in Tuesday.
“We’re a work in progress, it’s always a different dynamic. You have injuries, people missing games because of suspension or people who are more confident playing week in week out. So it’s always difficult, but the most important thing is that you make the most of the opportunity and make the most of the team that you have and try to get the job done. I think that with the quality in the side we should be able to get the job done and we should be able to qualify for the World Cup. But to do that, the next step is to get a result on Tuesday night.”
He may have won the competition as a player in 1990 and led his national team to the semi-finals in their homeland in 2006 as a coach, but the USA’s rather average recent form has put pressure on boss Jurgen Klinsmann.
The German took charge last July, and has guided the side to notable friendly successes over Italy and Mexico during his tenure. And Dempsey believes the team can still learn plenty from the former Bayern Munich striker.
Guatemala have never qualified for a World Cup finals. But a 2-1 victory against Jamaica on Friday marked a third win in a row for the Central Americans. Los Chapines will take heart from their 1-1 draw with the US back in June, but victory in Kansas in the return fixture would surely be their finest hour.