Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There figure to be several changes made to the U.S. men's natinonal team's starting lineup for Tuesday's crucial World Cup qualifying showdown vs. Jamaica, and U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has already revealed some of them.
Veteran defenders Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra will be back in the starting lineup after missing the first match between the two nations, Klinsmann revealed during his pre-game press conference on Monday. Cherundolo was sidelined with a calf strain while Bocanegra was benched in favor of Geoff Cameron and Clarence Goodson (who is suspended for the upcoming match due to yellow card accumulation).
"(Bocanegra) will be our captain (on Tuesday) and he totally understood our decisions that had to do with his last couple of weeks as well a little bit with the Mexico game where we tried out new things and we were very pleased with what we've seen in Mexico," said Klinsmann. "But he's back in the team, Stevie's back in the team, fortunately, so they are ready and very, very hungry for that game."
Klinsmann said some changes could be made in the midfield and up top to help change that for Tuesday's Group A encounter against the Reggae Boyz (a match expected to be a sellout at Crew Stadium), but he was tight-lipped as to who he could insert and replace.
You wouldn't know the U.S. team was facing a mountain of pressure heading into Tuesday's qualifier by looking at Klinsmann, who was the picture of cool as he spoke to reporters during his press conference on Monday afternoon. He touched on how the team has responded after its lethargic showing in the 2-1 defeat to Jamaica in Kingston, saying the team is not feeling any added pressure after losing to the Reggae Boyz for the first time in their history and that they know that a win will help put them right back on track in their road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"Pressure is always there in professional sports," said Klinsmann. "Obviously we want to get points already in Jamaica and be in a better position than we are right now but winning tomorrow night, which is our goal and which we're focused on very strongly, puts us back in (top) position in the group, so the pressure and expectations are just part of the professional environment. That's no problem."
What was admittedly a problem for the Americans in their loss to Jamaica in Kingston last week was their lack of width and possession. The U.S. struggled to keep the ball for large stretches, with passes going astray or over the top more often than not. That allowed Jamaica to settle into a rhythm that wound up earning them two free kicks that were sent past Tim Howard and into the back of the net.
"That's what we addressed already at halftime in Jamaica," said Klinsmann about the need for width and possession. "We talked about that and I think when the players also watch the images a little bit after the game, whether it's the highlights or just a bit more, you see those things. That's an area certainly we can do much better. I think what we discussed in Jamaica after the game also became clear when you watch it again on tape is that our passing game was not clean enough, was not good enough."
The game is not a must-win for the United States, but anything less than three points in its fourth Group A match would put them in a tough spot heading into their final two games of the third round of qualifying in October.
"Obviously we're looking forward to the game tomorrow night because obviously there's a sense within the group that we need to fix a couple of points," said Klinsmann. "We didn't get the result we wanted to in Jamaica, which puts us in a position that we have to get those points back and we want to desperately, desperately do that tomorrow night against the Jamaican side."