It was just a few short days ago that the United States men's national team suffered a humiliating defeat in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying at the hands of Guatemala, a team they've traditionally battered in the past. Widely regarded as a new low in the recent history of the USMNT, the team now needs to find a way to bounce back and recover quickly from that disappointment to avoid putting themselves in a precarious position for their qualification efforts.
Halfway through the last qualifying group stage before the Hex, the U.S. are sitting in third place, three points behind Trinidad and Tobago and two behind Guatemala. They absolutely cannot afford another loss, and to be honest even a draw won't be enough. There's no time for further setbacks now -- the team's ability to qualify is on the line, and another loss could prove catastrophic.
Key United States player -- Michael Bradley
The USMNT need their captain to step up and be a captain more now than ever. Bradley tends to lead by example more than he tries to push them into a better performance, but the team needs more of the latter mold right now. We've seen it from him before from time to time, and he needs to pull that part of himself out again. The team needs that kind of inspiration and guidance that we don't always see from him -- and if Bradley doesn't step up, we might see another floundering performance.
Key factor -- The USMNT's focus and teamwork
Too often in the U.S. national team's loss to Guatemala on Friday, the team looked disorganized and lost on the pitch. Part of that came down to selection -- a shocking number of players were played out of position or out of roles they're suited for -- but at times the team just didn't look like they were completely focused on the match and on working with one another. That will need to change and improve in a big way, because the USMNT can't afford another performance like that.
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 7:25 p.m. ET
Venue: Mapfre Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
TV: ESPN2 (U.S. - English), UniMas (U.S. - Spanish), TreceVision (Guatemala)
Online: Watch ESPN, Univision Deportes (U.S.)