The final round of World Cup qualifying has arrived. For the United States to reach the biggest tournament in the sport, it will need to start things off with a big performance against Honduras.
Things have not always gone according to plan for the Americans this season. They were able to win a group with Jamaica, Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda, but they did not make it easy by suffering one loss and one draw.
Now, they must finish in the top three of the hexagonal round in order to advance to the 2014 World Cup.
Defeating Honduras on the road on Feb 6 would go a long way toward securing a bid, but these players must step up for the United States.
After some average play during the last stage for the national team, Michael Bradley might be the most important player over the next stretch of matches.
The midfielder is incredibly talented, but he has struggled in his first season with Roma. Hopefully, that does not extend into international play.
When Clint Dempsey plays forward, the U.S. does not have anyone else that can move the ball and find teammates as well as Bradley. He is the player that must set things up offensively to give other players a chance to score.
Otherwise, there is not a lot the squad would be able to do.
At 33 years old, Carlos Bocanegra is starting to lose a step on the defensive side of the field.
He knows what he is doing on the back line, but he has struggled in the last few matches as he has been unable to stay with opponents.
Steve Cherundolo is not on the roster for the upcoming battle due to a knee injury. Instead, younger players Timmy Chandler and Omar Gonzalez are likely to get looks to see what they can do.
If Bocanegra struggles, Jurgen Klinsmann could start giving more playing time to the next generation of talent, and the veteran will be out of a spot.
In matches against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala, Graham Zusi looked like a very capable midfielder. However, that was not the case in the recent friendly against Canada.
The 26-year-old player could not get anything going offensively with a young roster around him, and the match ended in a scoreless draw.
Zusi has been given an opportunity on this squad, and he now needs to make the most of it. He is one of the top assist men in the MLS, and now he needs to do it on the international stage.
His position is far from guaranteed, so he needs to help the team and himself with a big performance on Wednesday.
In his first international appearance in years, Eddie Johnson came through in a big way with two goals against Antigua and Barbuda.
Now, the expectation has been raised for the talented forward.
The national team is short on players that can do the simple task of putting the ball in the back of the net. Johnson is someone who can do that well.
If he gets into the match, he has to be someone that makes an impact. While opportunities might be at a premium, Johnson has to take advantage of every scoring chance he gets.
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