KINGSTON, JAMAICA - SEPTEMBER 07: Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States battles for the ball with Ryan Johnson #9 of Jamaica during the United States and Jamaica World Cup Qualifier at National Stadium on September 7, 2012 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
The U.S. hosts Jamaica in a crucial World Cup qualifier that could put them on the verge of elimination.
In their entire soccer history, the United States were undefeated against Jamaica, but then Friday happened. A goal by Randolph Austin answered Clint Dempsey's first minute strike before Luton Shelton won it for the Reggae Boyz with a gorgeous free kick that emptied the stands and set off celebrations in Kingston.
The loss puts the U.S. in a second place tie with Guatemala in Group A of the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying. And with the Chapines likely to take three points against Antigua and Barbuda, a U.S. loss would put them three points back with two matches to go. That is the very edge of not just the disaster of missing out on the 2014 World Cup, but they will have gone out before even making the final round of qualifying.
Now the U.S. finds themselves in a match that may not mathematically a "must-win" match, but it's pretty damn close. They have an extraordinary amount of pressure on them going into Tuesday's qualifier, once again against Jamaica, but this time in Columbus, OH.
And while there is a bit of panic on the U.S. side, coming home should provide them with all they need to exact revenge on the Reggae Boyz, at least if history tells us anything.
The Americans have not lost a home World Cup qualifiers since 2001, going 17-0-2 since. They have protected home turf as well as any team in the world and they will have to again on Tuesday.
They will also have to make some adjustments from the first match, when they were overwhelmed in the center and lacked width. The lack of width isn't exactly new for the U.S., who have avoided the flanks like the plague since Jurgen Klinsmann took over the U.S. team.
Now Klinsmann will have to decide if width is necessary. It isn't always and there are plenty of teams who have played through the center without any flank play of note with great success, but can this U.S. team? That is what he has to determine, as well as a host of other things.
Does the U.S. need three defensive-minded midfielders? Can Clint Dempsey withdraw deeper into the midfield and provide the link up play that the team has lacked or is it a waste of his talents to take him further from goal? Will the U.S. try to pressure the Jamaicans further off the pitch and take the ball away in advantageous positions instead of starting all of their attacks out of the back?
There is a laundry list of questions for Klinsmann and eventually, it all comes down to one question -- can the U.S. and avoid the brink of World Cup elimination? Klinsmann thinks so and he doesn't seem too worried.
When asked about about what a loss on Tuesday would mean, Klinsmann told Brian Sciaretta, "We won't. Don't worry."
They better not or they will find themselves in hole that they might not be able to climb out of.
Head over to Stars and Stripes FC for all of your coverage of U.S. soccer as they take aim at the 2014 World Cup. Check out our video preview of the match below.