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Quick Takes

Will the U.S. Sit Back or Attack? Who Will Start?

We asked 11 soccer obsessives to tell us what they were hoping to see the U.S. men’s national team do against Guatemala in Livestrong Park. Here’s what they told us.
BY Various Posted
October 16, 2012
6:31 AM

The worst thing that could happen Tuesday night in Kansas City? The U.S. loses and crashes out of World Cup qualifying before they even reach the Hex.

The second-worst thing that could happen? The U.S. settles for a complacent draw, thereby ensuring passage but also disappointing fans desperate for a showpiece win.

So, how should Jurgen Klinsmann play it?

Korey Donahoo
President, American Outlaws
I'd love to see Jermaine Jones on the bench, which we have a pretty good chance of seeing, considering he broke the one rule he had on Friday night in Antigua—to not get a yellow card—as a second-half substitute. Give the tireless Zusi a starting spot in the middle, which he has more than earned. I'd also love to see another goal or two from Eddie. Let's cash in on him while he's hot, with Zusi serving up delicious crosses for him all day long. Last on my wish list: a two-goal cushion.

Graham Ruthven
Freelance soccer writer
Clint Dempsey needs to be briefed on what his role is in the American team. In Dempsey the U.S. has an exceptional talent, even by the high measure of the English Premier League, yet Klinsmann doesn’t seem sure how to make the best of him. Dempsey himself also needs to fully commit to the international cause. Too often he makes it easy for fans to angle accusations that he doesn’t care about the U.S. team. Unlike club soccer, international soccer is about utilizing the players you have been given. The U.S. has been given Dempsey. They need to use him.

Dan Levy
National Lead Writer, Bleacher Report
“Get to the Hex” sounds like a bad action comedy with Russell Brand, but that's the only goal for Klinsmann on Tuesday. The U.S. can get to the Hex with a draw (or a loss and some help), but it's important for Klinsmann to play for the win. Guatemala is the type of team the U.S. must dominate if a serious run is to be expected in the World Cup. Still, both teams advance with a draw, so expect a defensive formation (4-1-3-1-1) with an offensive mentality. I'm okay with that, as long as the U.S. plays to win.

Luis Bueno
Freelance writer
The United States’ World Cup qualifier against Guatemala is not a must-win—Eddie Johnson saw to that when he scored a last-gasp winner in Antigua on Friday. However, the U.S. must approach this game as such. Too often throughout this semifinal round, the Americans have lacked urgency. The team slogged through away games in Jamaica and Antigua, and were not clinical in their finishing against their Caribbean rivals at home either. Urgency from the start and goals against a team that will be bent on escaping with a nil-nil draw would be a solid way to close out this round.

Dan Wiersema
Founder, Free Beer Movement
While it has been a welcome change to see the U.S. possess the ball better (and not have to chase the game even against inferior opposition) we’ve yet to see Jurgen Klinsmann’s master plan lead to sustained pressure in the final third, shots, and goals… please… several goals. The opening half hour against Jamaica in Columbus gave us a nibble of what it should look like, but great goalkeeping and the post left American fans unfulfilled. Against Guatemala I’d like to see possession turn to pressure, turn to shots, turn to goals… no matter from whom or from where they come from.

Jason Davis
Co-host, Best Soccer Show
If the U.S. is going to assuage any fears that 2014 could be the first World Cup they miss since 1986, the effort in Kansas City needs to take several steps forward from what we saw in Antigua. Unfortunately, a draw will do for both teams, and it's possible we see an underwhelming walk to the finish line. But Klinsmann should do everything he can to raise his team's level by insisting on a comprehensive win. To this point, he's struggled to find a balance within his lineup. Tuesday in Kansas City would be a good place to end the struggle.

Brian Blickenstaff
Freelance writer
I’d like the U.S. to win against Guatemala, but I want a good performance, too. I want the team to attack with width, defend against the counterattack, and generally play like a coherent unit. After the Antigua and Barbuda match, SI’s Grant Wahl critiqued Klinsmann’s tenure as national team coach, arguing that “this team has regressed during the German's 14 months in charge.” Like every American soccer fan, I’d like to disagree, but where’s the evidence?

Phil Schoen
Announcer, beIN Sport
With Fabian Johnson still out, there’s a good chance Michael Parkhurst pushes Carlos Bocanegra inside after his rough outing against Antigua. Another possibility is sitting a struggling Hercules Gomez, pushing a red-hot Eddie Johnson inside and inserting someone to get width on the left. Clint Dempsey only shined in flashes against Antigua, but I fully expect Jurgen Klinsmann to start him, though I wouldn't be surprised in a quick hook if he continues to disappear. Graham Zusi should have a good showing at home, and I wouldn't be surprised if Alan Gordon gets some extended minutes in the second half.

Jared DuBois
Co-host, Best Soccer Show
Who knows more about Wizards than KC? So what better place to test out magic than Livestrong Park? Is Alan Gordon a witch? Is Klinsy the Rain Man of roster selection? I don't know, but it's going to take more than mysticism to beat Guatemala.  The U.S. will need to be smart in not giving up cheap fouls and overcommitting to the attack. I'm excited to see the Bradley/Zusi dynamic build.

Sayra Moran
Founding Member, Women United FC
What I would like for Tuesday's qualifier is more team cohesiveness. Klinsmann obviously loves to tinker with the roster and has tough decisions to make on what the starting lineup will be. Guatemala is always hungry to win and the USMNT should make a strong case in why they deserve to advance. Our back line is stacked with talent so they should stifle chances that Guatemala attempts to create. Eddie Johnson was indisputably great against Antigua and Barbuda: I'd like to see him, the rest of the forwards, and the attacking midfielders possess more and set up solid plays.

Luke Lohr
Founder, MLSReserves.com
Win. Simple as that. While we’d all like to see glorious passing and beautiful goals, none of it will matter if the squad does not win in Kansas City. Ninety minutes separate the United States from a fresh start, and if they win past performances will be forgotten when looking back. Fight hard, get dirty, and win. We can complain and analyze over the rest afterwards. That said, I’d like to see Zusi in the midfield with Bradley once again, with Johnson and Gomez up top. The duo has potential but needs time to develop.

We want to hear your take too. Post your thoughts on the game—in 100 words or less—below.

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