- Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero
The United States looks to advance their World Cup qualifying campaign against a Guatemalan team that has proved difficult to beat in past matches.
United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have to contend with a depleted roster as a number of regular starters are unavailable due to injury, but that will force other players on the roster step up.
Team captain Landon Donovan suffered a knee injury during a Major League Soccer match, and midfielder Brek Shea is out with an abdominal strain. Their absence has been noticeable during previous qualifying matches.
The team has not looked in top form during their qualifying campaign, and without these two for Tuesday's match, more questions are being raised.
The last four matches, the national team has looked absent on the field with limited creativity and confusion in the defensive line. They did show a gritty determination, pulling out a 2-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda on a field that was mostly mud due to torrential rainfall beforehand.
Players like midfielder Michael Bradley understand that this is a home match to stay atop of the group. It could have not been set up better for the Americans, who must earn their stripes with their performance on the field.
"Everything is there now for us to step on the field Tuesday night and play a good game, to use our personality and want to play, to want to impose ourselves on them in the way that we move, in the way that we pass, in the way that we press," Bradley told MLSsoccer.com. "Obviously, the conditions here are as close to perfect as they can come."
With Donovan and Shea out, Klinsmann has been forced to put in Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu, and Jermain Jones in the middle of play. While those players are respectable in their own right, they are defensive-minded players and do not have the consistent ability to create chances going forward.
Klinsmann will be more at ease knowing the midfielder Michael Bradley will be available as well as Clint Dempsey, who is looking good after making the move to Tottenham Hotspurs in the English Premier League.
But the United States should not overlook Guatemala, who will be motivated by the fact that they will advance to the next round with a win or draw against the United States.
Kickoff for the match is at 7:15 p.m. EDT and can be watched online here.