An unthinkable reality: An English take on the USA’s World Cup failure

The USA aren’t going to the World Cup.

I didn’t think I’d ever have to write that sentence. I can’t believe I’m doing so now.

When the final whistle blew in Trinidad on Tuesday night, it was 3AM here in the UK. I didn’t sit through 90 torturous minutes, as the reality of the USA’s World Cup failure slowly sank in. Instead, I woke up to a melting pot of despair. The USA had lost. Panama and Honduras won.

The United States’ failure to qualify for the World Cup isn’t just devastating on a nation level, it’s global. The World Cup will be a worse tournament without the USA. It will be a worse tournament without the likes of Ghana, Chile and the Netherlands too. But the USA’s absence hurts more.

They’ve reached the Round of 16 in back-to-back tournaments. Their passion both on the field and in the stands has been fantastic to see. But most importantly, they’ve been improving.

Soccer is a big deal in the USA now. Sure, it could still get even bigger. But the fact is, people have started to fall in love with the game. The biggest reason for the surge in support is probably because of how well they battled at the 2014 World Cup. They might have gone out to Belgium, but they won a lot of people’s hearts over that day.

But those hearts were all broken with Tuesday’s result in Trinidad.

Embed from Getty ImagesThe USA have been to seven successive World Cup’s. They’ve not missed the tournament since 1986. To put it into perspective, England have missed a World Cup more recently than the USMNT, as the Three Lions failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

There is a real sense of entitlement when it comes to World Cup qualification here in England. Many fans don’t even watch many of the qualifiers. They just expect to see England at the main event. And yes, for the past 20 years, qualifying has been easy for the Three Lions. They’ve only lost four of their last 56 World Cup qualifiers.

That’s as many as the USA lost in this year’s Hexagonal alone.

But qualification for the USA should be a straightforward task too. The quality of teams across the CONCACAF region is improving, but the USA should not be finishing behind the likes of Panama and Honduras. There is no excuse for that, regardless of who is the head coach and who’s in charge of the United States Soccer Federation.

Tuesday night’s defeat to Trinidad will surely go down as the most embarrassing and heartbreaking night in US Soccer history. It sure feels like that now, and I’m sure it will still feel like that for a long time.

Taylor Twellman summed up the emotion of USA fans on ESPN after the game. He was incensed and rightly so.

But this must now act as the catalyst for change for the USA. A lot of fingers are being pointed. There are a lot of places to look for where things have gone wrong over the past couple of years. But there is no greater time to bring about large-scale changes than when staring at a reality like the USA is right now.

A new coach will surely be needed. Some players will have played their last game for the USMNT. Others will now step forward. Changes will be made as to how the USA scouts players, how it develops them. It will take time. But the USA now has time. They will not play a competitive game again now until the 2019 Gold Cup.

I might not be American, but I believe in US Soccer. I believe in MLS. And I believe that the USA’s World Cup failure will be the catalyst for change, the catalyst for a brighter future. Things can only improve from here…

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World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: Panama vs USA

Competition: 2018 World Cup Qualifier – Panama vs. USA
Venue: Estadio Rommel Fernández – Tuesday, March 28 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST) 
Match Odds: Panama 12/5 – Draw 11/5 – USA 21/20

Match Preview

Panama host the USA in a crucial World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night, with just one place and one point separating the sides going into the fourth round of fixtures in a fiercely competitive Hexagonal.

Panama are one of CONCACAF’s toughest sides to break down. They lost 1-0 to Trinidad on Friday night, with Kevin Molino’s goal the only strike they have conceded in three qualifiers so far.

They opened the Hex with a 1-0 win at Honduras and followed it up by holding Mexico to a 0-0 draw at home. Panama have never qualified for a World Cup but sit just three points off Mexico going into Tuesday’s games and know that they will remain on track if they can avoid defeat against the USA.

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That will be no easy task, given how the US men’s national team dismantled Honduras at Avaya Stadium on Friday night. The manner of the 6-0 win in Bruce Arena’s first competitive game since taking over as head coach once again in November was unexpected but incredibly impressive.

Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey tore the Honduran defence apart, while Michael Bradley thrived in the lone defensive-midfield role, even grabbing a goal himself as the USA sent out a statement of intent to their CONCACAF rivals.

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Few changes are expected for Tuesday’s trip to Panama City and the aim will be for the US to try and score early to force the hosts to come forward. Their approach worked perfectly against Honduras and will surely be adopted once again here.

The challenge will now be to follow that result up with another strong performance as they look to move into the top three of the Hex. Tuesday’s game will be the last qualifier until June so Arena knows the team must leave Panama with at least a point.

The USA have never lost a World Cup qualifier to Panama but have not beaten them in their last two meetings, both coming in the 2015 Gold Cup with the Panamanians beating the USMNT on penalties in the 3rd place playoff.

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Team News

MLS fans will be familiar with a number of faces in the Panama lineup on Tuesday. Former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo will be looking to keep the US out, helped by Seattle’s stalwart Roman Torres. Toronto’s Armando Cooper will likely play alongside San Jose’s Anibal Godoy in midfield, with former Quakes teammate Alberto Quintero looking to cause trouble from out wide. Former MLS strikers Blas Perez and Gabriel Torres will be looking to make an impact, but it will likely have to come from the bench.

Bruce Arena will have to change his starting lineup as Sebastian Lletget and John Brooks are both at home dealing with injuries picked up on Friday. Jordan Morris has left the squad as his ankle problem means he can’t take to the field, so he’s returned to Seattle for treatment. Alejandro Bedoya is likely to come into the starting lineup in place of Lletget, while Jermaine Jones is available again after serving his suspension and might get a start. 

Key Points

Panama’s last five: W/L/W/W/L

USA’s last five: L/L/D/W/W

Key Stat: Panama have gone nine games without conceding more than a single goal in a match. They have only let in four goals in those nine games.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – Fresh from scoring a hat-trick in Friday’s 6-0 demolition over Honduras, Dempsey will be looking to fire the USA to a second consecutive win in an equally important game. He has found the net in two of the last three meetings with Panama and will expect to cause their solid defence some serious problems on Tuesday.

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Score Prediction

Panama 1-1 USA – This looks set to be a much trickier contest than Friday night’s for the USMNT but they will not expect to leave Panama with anything less than a point. They have the quality to beat Panama but have been tied at 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes the last two times they have faced them and might just have to settle for the same result here in what is a vital game for both sides.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: Guatemala vs USA

Competition: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier – Guatemala vs. USA

Venue: Estadio Mateo Flores, Guatemala – Friday, March 25 – 22:00 ET (02:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Guatemala 17/2 – Draw 100/30 – USA 1/3

Match Preview

Guatemala host the USA in an important World Cup qualifier on Friday night in what will be the first of two games between the nations in five days.

Both sides have played two games so far in Group C of CONCACAF qualifying, with the USA topping the group ahead of Trinidad and Tobago on goal difference. Guatemala sit in third place, but know that picking up at least one good result against the USA over the next week will keep their hopes alive.

Guatemala have never qualified for a World Cup but did reach the Hexagonal stage of qualifying in 2006, where they finished fifth and narrowly missed out the intercontinental playoff spot.

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Los Chapines fell 2-1 to Trinidad before thrashing St Vincent and the Grenadines 4-0 in their first two Group C games. Back-to-back losses to the USA this week will all but end their hopes of qualifying, so Guatemala need to try and make home advantage count on Friday evening.

The US Men’s National Team are entering two important games as the double header against Guatemala will be Jurgen Klinsmann’s last chance to assess his squad ahead of this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

The German head coach has said the USA “badly want to get the job done before the Copa America if possible” and he is targeting six points from the two games against Los Chapines this week.

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An opening 6-1 win over St Vincent and the Grenadines was followed by a 0-0 draw in Trinidad. The USA have only won two of their last eight games away from home and a win on Friday would be a real boost.

Klinsmann has called up an experienced squad for these games. He will expect his side to record two victories as all attentions will turn to this summer’s Copa America as soon as this home-and-home series with Guatemala is over.

These nations have met at this stage of CONCACAF qualifying in each of the past five World Cup cycles. The USA have posted a 7-0-5 record in those qualifiers but have only won one of the five games in Guatemala (W1 D4).

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Team News

Jurgen Klinsmann has called up 26 players for the upcoming home-and-home series with Guatemala over the next five days, with 13 MLS stars in the latest squad. There are eight players looking to appear in their first World Cup qualifying matches, while 15 members of the squad travelled to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Bobby Wood will be one to watch as the Union Berlin forward will hope to continue to shine if given the chance to in attack.

Guatemala have called up 24 players for the two qualifying games against USA, with six attackers named to the roster. MLS fans will be familiar with Colorado Rapids midfielder Marco Pappa as well as Carlos Ruiz, who played for five MLS clubs between 2002 and 2013. Moises Hernandez (FC Dallas) and Rodrigo Saravia (Columbus Crew) have also made the squad and will hope to impress.

Key Points

Guatemala’s last five: D/L/W/W/W

USA’s last five: L/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: The USA are unbeaten in 21 consecutive matches against Guatemala – their longest current unbeaten run against any other international side.

Key Player: Marco Pappa – Americans will be familiar with Guatemala’s Marco Pappa. The midfielder in currently in his seventh MLS season after joining the Colorado Rapids this offseason. He is nearing full fitness now and will need to be at his best to break down the USMNT defence and give Guatemala a chance of winning this game.

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Score Prediction

Guatemala 1-1 USA – Clashes between these two in Guatemala have proven to be low-scoring affairs in recent history and a close-fought battle is expected here. The USA are favourites and have a much stronger squad. But Guatemala will be tough to break down and could pick up another home draw in what is an important qualifier for both nations.

Getting Stuck In: The American definition of “world class”

The Getting Stuck In column delves into some of the more intriguing aspects in US Soccer and MLS, shining a light on the stories regarding the league’s teams and its most-loved characters. This week Dave Lewis looks into whether the U.S. have ever produced a world-class soccer player and looks at three candidates…

When will the U.S. produce a world-class soccer player? It’s a fair question. We haven’t come close and probably won’t unless we get some of our best athletes from American football (throwball) and basketball to make the switch to soccer. We need the Stephen Curry’s and Russell Wilson’s of the world to fall in love with the game at six years old, see the financial potential of soccer (MLS would likely need to trash the salary cap), and then maybe, just maybe, we could produce a world-class player.

But wait. On further inspection, maybe we have produced a world-class player. Ok, maybe not an outfield player, but what about a goalkeeper?

People in the know say Americans make great net-minders because of the hand-eye coordination it takes to play basketball, baseball and American football – the three sports most commonly played by youngsters when growing up. It’s why there have been three American goalkeepers who I would categorise as “world class.” We are not talking Ronaldo or Messi calibre here, but within the ‘keeper fraternity, there are three top guys: Tim Howard, Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller. Let me make a case for each one:

Brad Friedel

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Friedel is one of my favourite U.S. players to have played the game. He comes from Ohio but has a legit English accent to this day due to his lengthy playing career in England. The man owns a ton of Premier League records playing for Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tottenham. He makes many people’s top 10 list for the best Premier League goalkeepers of all time. But his most impressive work came with the U.S. Men’s National Team, most notably during the 2002 World Cup when the U.S. made a magical run to the quarterfinals. Friedel was arguably the best ‘keeper in the tournament behind Germany’s Oliver Kahn. In that tournament Friedel made two non-shootout penalty saves, which is almost unheard of at such a high level. Kahn was out of his mind, making world-class save after world-class save, but Friedel was not far behind.

You probably need to win a World Cup to be considered truly world class in today’s game, but look at a player like Iker Casillas. He’s a World Cup winner but has looked terrible for a few years now – have you seen him with Porto lately? Friedel was at the top of his game well into his late 30’s and early 40’s. Longevity, class, talent and one of the most accurate long kicks in the world surely mean Friedel was knocking on the door of being labelled world class.

Kasey Keller

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I put Keller slightly behind Friedel. But only slightly. His cat-like reflexes and cool demeanor made him a fan-favourite when he was with Millwall. And we all know how tough those fans can be. He played with Tottenham and Borussia Monchengladbach as well as Fulham and Leicester City during his time in Europe. But he was best known for being capped with the USMNT 102 times. The highlight of his career came in a historic win over Brazil, in which he made a staggering 13 saves, many from point-blank range. This prompted Romario to say: “That is the best performance by a goalkeeper I have ever seen.” Keller was a real good guy, who was a leader, great communicator and was able to dictate the pace of the game from the back. So what if he sulked at times for not being picked as first choice? We have all done that.

Tim Howard

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Yes, we all know about the record 16 saves made against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, which says a lot about Howard but more about the questionable U.S. backline. But it’s his club career where he has really distinguished himself. He was bought by Manchester United and played incredibly well during his first year, being named to the best XI in the Premier League. Unfortunately Alex Ferguson (the manager) never forgave him for blowing it in the Champions League against Porto. He was buried, and to make it even worse, was replaced by the great (insert sarcasm here) Roy Carroll. Everton signed Timmy and boy, was that good business! He has appeared in over 350 games for the Toffees over a ten-year period, making save after save on his way to becoming endeared by the Goodison Park faithful. His shot-stopping ability is world class. Unfortunately his work on crosses is not as good as it could be. That’s why he is third on this list behind Keller and Friedel. But hey, nobody’s perfect.

I may never see another crop of American goalkeepers like Friedel, Keller and Howard in my lifetime. But what concerns me is that the next star between the sticks is yet to step forward. Friedel and Keller have retired. Howard’s form has slipped to the point of backup and he is set to return to MLS with the Colorado Rapids this summer.

What about Guzan? Good start to his Villa career, not so good this year. Sean Johnson? Bill Hamid? Good MLS ‘keepers but not worth mentioning, even though I just did. Cody Cropper may be in line for greatness, but right now he is playing for Championship side Milton Keynes Dons.

Wow, I just got a world class headache.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: Trinidad & Tobago vs USA

Competition: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier – Trinidad and Tobago vs. USA

Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium – Tuesday, November 17 – 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT) 

Match Odds: Trinidad 5/2 – Draw 11/5 – USA 19/20

Match Preview

Trinidad & Tobago host the USA in a key World Cup Qualifying clash in Group C on Tuesday night, with both sides looking to build on perfect starts to the campaign.

Trinidad managed to record a solid 2-1 victory over Guatemala on Friday night and know that a home win against the US here will put them in a great position early in the qualifying process.

The US Men’s National Team travel to the Caribbean in good shape as they survived a very early scare against St Vincent and The Grenadines to come back and win 6-1 on Friday evening.

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That result was always expected, though, and the first real test lies in store here. Klinsmann knows his players must perform to their best if they’re to beat this Trinidad side, especially after what has been a solid few months for The Soca Warriors.

Trinidad beat Mexico to top spot in Group A of the Gold Cup in the summer before losing on penalties to Panama in the quarter-finals and have not lost a game in 90 minutes in any of their last eight.

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USA on the other hand have only won two of their last seven and need to start putting a string of victories together now to rebuild confidence in the camp.

This will be the first meeting between the two side since a World Cup qualifying clash in 2009. USA won that game 1-0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium and will expect a similar result this time around too.

Team News

Trinidad & Tobago head coach Stephen Hart is unlikely to make too many changes, if any, to the side that won in Guatemala on Friday. MLS fans will be familiar with some of the names in the Trinidad side as Joevin Jones, Daneil Cyrus (both Chicago Fire) are set to start, while Kevan George (Columbus Crew) and Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes) will likely appear from the bench. Cardiff City striker Kenwyne Jones will spearhead the attack.

Jurgen Klinsmann has already revealed that Tim Howard, who is now fully focused after an international sabbatical, will start in goal for just the second time since the 2014 World Cup. There are unlikely to be too many changes as Klinsmann will want to start finding a consistent lineup but Fabian Johnson might be pushed back to his usual left-back berth, allowing Darlington Nagbe to start on the left side of midfield.

Key Points

Trinidad & Tobago’s last five: D/D/W/D/W

USA’s last five: W/L/L/L/W

Key Stat: USA have won 11 of the last 13 meetings with Trinidad (D1 L1) over the past 21 years and historically tend to dominate Tuesday’s opponents.

Key Player: Jozy Altidore – The powerful Toronto forward scored twice and picked up an assist in Friday’s 6-1 win over St Vincent and he will want to push on with further goal contributions here.

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Score Prediction

Trinidad & Tobago 1-2 USA – Expect this to be a close battle between two of CONCACAF’s better sides. The USA know this will be a stern test but they should have enough to seal a narrow victory and take control of Group C.

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: USA vs St Vincent & The Grenadines

Competition: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier – USA vs. St Vincent & The Grenadines

Venue:Busch Stadium, St Louis – Friday, November 13 – 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)

Match Odds: USA 1/250 – Draw 14/1 – St Vincent 33/1

Match Preview

The US Men’s National Team get their 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign underway on Friday night with a home clash against one of CONCACAF’s smallest nations in St Vincent & The Grenadines at Busch Stadium in St Louis.

The two nations have never met before but the USA are overwhelming favourites to seal a comfortable victory against the nation with a population of just over 100,000 people.

Jurgen Klinsmann will be looking forward to starting the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying campaign after a poor summer that saw the team underperform in the Gold Cup before losing the CONCACAF Confederations Cup playoff to Mexico in October.

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The USA have now only won one of their last six games, suffering five defeats in that time, and know they need to pick back up again.

The visit of St Vincent will be an intriguing one as so little is know about them. They beat Aruba 3-2 on aggregate in the playoff game to get to this stage of qualifying but are not expected to trouble the USMNT on Friday.

Klinsmann has labelled St Vincent as “tricky opponents” because he is so unfamiliar with how they play and who their main talents are.

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One man to watch is Oalex Anderson, who scored in their first-leg playoff win over Aruba in September. He plies his trade with USL team Seattle Sounders 2 and has scored nine goals since making his international debut just over a year ago.

But USA supporters will be mainly focusing on how the two newest members of Klinsmann’s team fare. MLS duo Darlington Nagbe and Matt Miazga are both attending their first USMNT camp and will hope to impress in a squad filled with young talent as Klinsmann looks to the future.

Key Points

USA’s last five: D/W/L/L/L

St Vincent & The Grenadines last five: D/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: USA have not lost a World Cup qualifying match on home soil since a 3-2 defeat to Honduras in 2001.

Key Player: Darlington Nagbe – The Portland Timbers playmaker will be desperate to impress head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on his USMNT debut. He’s unlikely to play 90 minutes but will look to make the difference nonetheless.

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Score Prediction

USA 3-0 St Vincent & The Grenadines – This should be a routine victory for the USA as they look to start their World Cup qualifying campaign in the right way. It was a turbulent summer for Klinsmann and his team. Although a comfortable win against one of CONCACAF’s smallest sides won’t answer many questions, it will give the home fans want they want to see.

International Preview and Prediction: USA vs Costa Rica

Competition: International Friendly – USA vs. Costa Rica

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Tuesday, October 13 – 23:30 BST (18:30 ET)

Match Odds: USA 4/5 – Draw 9/4 – Costa Rica 11/4 

Match Preview

Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT will want to quickly forget the heartbreaking loss on Saturday with a win when they host Costa Rica on Tuesday night in an international friendly.

The USMNT lost out on the chance of playing at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia with the loss to Mexico on Saturday as they went down 3-2 in extra time.

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That loss followed the the disappointing Gold Cup run on home soil in the summer in what will go down as a year to forget for the US national team. And they will not be too confident of turning things around instantly here, after only winning twice in their last eight against Costa Rica.

For those that remember, England were knocked out of the World Cup in 2014 at the expense of Costa Rica so the nation possesses a great team. However, they have also endured a difficult 2015.

Costa Rican have won just once this year, coming in a 1-0 win over Uruguay in September but they will see Tuesday’s game as a good chance to seal another victory over the USMNT.

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Key Points

USA’s last five: L/D/W/L/L

Costa Rica’s last five: D/L/L/W/L

Key Stat: The USA have never beaten Costa Rica in an international friendly (P3 – D1 – L2)

Key Player: Joel Campbell – Everyone that saw Costa Rica at the World Cup should know how much of a talent Campbell is and it still baffles many as to how Arsene Wenger leaves him on the bench all the time at Arsenal.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Costa Rica – Hopefully this meeting will be more than just another game as both sides have a point to prove as CONCACAF rivals. Both have proved themselves as solid sides over the past few years and this will be a good test for both. This should be an advert for how good football has become in North and Central America and an entertaining affair is expected.

CONCACAF Cup Preview and Prediction: USA vs Mexico

Competition: CONCACAF Cup – USA vs. Mexico

Venue: Rose Bowl, California – Saturday, October 10 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: USA 11/8 – Draw 23/10 – Mexico 7/4

Match Preview

The USA and Mexico face off in the highly anticipated CONCACAF Cup on Saturday night as the international rivals will be facing off for a place at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

“This is one of the biggest soccer games to be played on North American soil since the 1994 World Cup,” CONCACAF acting General Secretary Ted Howard in a statement. He’s not wrong.

It’s set to be an absolute classic encounter between two teams that always play with full intensity and passion whenever they meet. They will play each other at the Rose Bowl in California where more than 90,000 fans are set to make the atmosphere as electric as the game itself in what is a sell-out.

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This is the first ever CONCACAF Cup match, which is a playoff game for the Confederations Cup in two years time, between the last two winners of the continent’s Gold Cup tournament. USA won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013 but the Mexicans were victorious at this summer’s tournament on US soil, so now a one-off game will be played to see who represents CONCACAF in Russia.

The USA finished a disappointing fourth at the Gold Cup this summer and Jurgen Klinsmann is now under intense pressure to ensure the Americans beat Mexico in California.

The USMNT have lost three of their last four games though and need to put in a much improved performance to have any chance of advancing past El Tri here.

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Mexico are unbeaten in their last ten outings and will be the more confident of the two sides ahead of Saturday’s battle.

Both sets of fans will remember the most recent meeting between the two sides at the Rose Bowl as Mexico rallied from 2-0 down to beat the USA 4-2 in the 2011 Gold Cup final, sealing their place at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil.

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The entire stadium was filled with Mexico fans four years ago but a lot more USA fans are expected to be in attendance and should guarantee an incredible atmosphere.

Recent history is on the USA’s side as they haven’t lost to Mexico in any of their last six encounters (W3 D3). The last time they lost to El Tri was at the Rose Bowl in that 2011 Gold Cup showdown.

Team News

Jurgen Klinsmann has called up his veterans for this game as the more big-game experience in the starting lineup the better. Tim Howard could start in goal for the first time since the 2014 World Cup if Brad Guzan is dropped. Jermaine Jones will hope to start in midfield with Michael Bradley, though Kyle Beckerman is also an option. In attack, Clint Dempsey will look to shine with Jozy Altidore, Chris Wondolowski and Gyasi Zardes also available for selection.

Mexico have received a double boost ahead of the game as veteran defender Rafa Marquez and midfielder Andres Guardado have shaken off knocks and are expected to start. Other star names included in the squad are Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez but LA Galaxy attacker Giovani Dos Santos is out as he picked up a knock in the Galaxy’s draw with Seattle last weekend.

Key Points

USA’s last five: W/L/L/W/L

Mexico’s last five: W/W/W/D/D

Key Stat: The USA currently have a six-game unbeaten streak going against Mexico – the longest run of games without losing to their rivals in history.

Key Player: Michael Bradley – The USMNT midfield hero scored the opening goal at the Rose Bowl in the 2011 meeting and also netted in a 2-2 draw between the two last April. He loves these games and will look to fire the USA to victory.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Mexico – This is all set up to be one of the most memorable meetings ever between these fierce rivals. Both sides will be desperate to remain defensively solid but with so much attacking talent on display, goals look to be inevitable. If the USA fans can match the Mexicans for noise, then they stand a really good chance of edging this one. We’re going for a narrow USA victory, though don’t be surprised if they have to wait until extra-time or perhaps even penalties to earn that win.

International Preview and Prediction: USA vs Peru

Competition: International Friendly

Venue: RFK Stadium, Washington – Friday, September 4 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST) 

Match Odds: USA 8/11 – Draw 5/2 – Peru 7/2

Match Preview

The US Men’s National Team return to action on Friday night as they take on Peru at DC United’s RFK Stadium in Washington in an international friendly.

Both sides will look to use the game to fine-tune some key details before they both play important matches in a month’s time. Peru take on Colombia in a key World Cup qualifier on October 9, while the USA face Mexico in their crucial CONCACAF Confederations Cup play-off game a day later.

Jurgen Klinsmann is under pressure after the USMNT’s disappointing Gold Cup campaign in July and will look to end a two-game losing streak on home soil here.

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That will be a very tricky task against a Peru side that impressed in this summer’s Copa America as they finished in third place behind Argentina and eventual winners Chile.

They have only lost once in their last five outings and seem to be in fine shape heading into their World Cup qualifying campaign.

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The USA face two huge tests against South American opponents this week as they play Brazil after the game with Peru. Klinsmann needs to ensure there are positives heading into the Mexico showdown and that’s the key here.

Tim Howard has returned to duty following a year’s absence but isn’t expected to walk straight back into the starting lineup as Brad Guzan appears Klinsmann’s first choice between the sticks for now.

This will be just the sixth meeting between these two nations and the first since 2000, as the USA beat Peru 1-0 in the Gold Cup on that occasion.

Team News

USMNT fans will be delighted to see Tim Howard’s name back on the team sheet but Brad Guzan will likely remain No. 1 for now. There are only six MLS players in the squad for the game, with European-based Americans looking to shine in the upcoming games. The likes of Jonathan Spector, Andrew Wooten and Tim Ream will all hope to get some minutes and prove their worth.

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Peru have called up most of the players that starred in the Copa America this summer, with Paolo Guerrero looking to continue his fine goalscoring form after netting four in the tournament. Jefferson Farfan is probably the most recognised name on the squad but Peru have plenty of threats all over the pitch for the USMNT to deal with.

Key Points

USA’s last five: W/D/W/L/L

Peru’s last five: W/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: The USA’s last game at RFK Stadium saw a thrilling game that ended 4-3 to the USMNT against Germany. More goals are to be expected in this one.

Key Player: Jozy Altidore – The powerful Toronto striker has scored in two of the USA’s five friendlies in 2015 and will hope to shine here as the most experienced striker on the roster.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-2 Peru – Difficult to split the sides coming into this one and both will be using the match to fix any apparent problems before huge games next month. Goals are to be expected but a draw looks to be the most likely result.

USMNT star joins Sunderland from Spurs on season-long loan deal

Sunderland have secured the services of young Tottenham right-back DeAndre Yedlin on a season-long loan deal today, just before Tuesday’s transfer window slammed shut in England.

Yedlin was signed by Spurs from Seattle Sounders last August but had to wait until January to complete his move to Europe. He has struggled to get any game time under Mauricio Pochettino, making just one senior appearance, and will hope a move to Sunderland will help him develop.

The Black Cats have started the season in poor form and sit bottom of the Premier League table after four matches. They have strengthened late on in the transfer window, however, and Dick Advocaat will hope to turn things around from here on in.

Yedlin has made 23 appearances for the US Men’s National Team over the past two years and is a part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the upcoming friendlies against Peru and Brazil.

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He will then return to England to team up with his new Sunderland teammates ahead of their next Premier League game against, would you believe it, Tottenham.

Spurs have surely implemented the usual loan clause that will not allow the pacey 22-year-old defender to face his parent club and so his debut will likely come in the away clash with AFC Bournemouth on September 19.

Many have questioned whether Yedlin will be able to shine in the Premier League as he did in MLS before joining Spurs, but he is sure to answer many of the questions as a part of a Sunderland defence that has conceded ten goals in four matches – more than any other top flight side.

Is a move to Sunderland a good one for DeAndre Yedlin?