Jurgen Klinsmann insists he is not looking past Friday’s clash against St. Vincent and the Grenadines as the United States men’s soccer team attempts to clinch a place in the final round of World Cup qualifying. The U.S. will secure its place in the Hexagonal with a win in St. Vincent if it is accompanied by a victory for Trinidad and Tobago at home to Guatemala in the group’s other game on Friday.
Sitting at 156th in the FIFA rankings and having lost 6-1 to the U.S. in St. Louis last November, St. Vincent and the Grenadines are not expected to pose much of a threat to American hopes. However, the Caribbean minnows took a shock 5th minute lead in that matchup and Klinsmann insists that he and his side will be taking nothing for granted.
“Right now we need to beat St. Vincent, this is what really matters, all the other things are not important,” he told reporters ahead of the game at the Arnos Vale Stadium in Kingstown. Getting these three points down there, which will be tricky as you guys know, then depending on the result of Trinidad and Tobago against Guatemala we will see how we approach the game here in Jacksonville [against Trinidad and Tobago next Tuesday].
“And then come the moment hopefully getting the job done and then whether to throw some youngsters in to some friendly games and then do we have the January camp. The most important thing is getting these results, getting into the Hex and then getting the results right away.”
It has not been a completely smooth ride for the U.S. in the semifinal round. As well as conceding an early goal to the Vincy Heat, there was a defeat in Guatemala that left no more margin for error as the U.S. seeks a place in an eighth successive World Cup.
The team will have to get the job done on Friday without some of its most experienced figures. The suspended captain Michael Bradley is joined on the sidelines by veterans Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones. Fellow first-team regulars Gyasi Zardes and John Brooks are also ruled out through injury.
Jozy Altidore is, however, back in the fold after missing out on the United States’ run to the Copa America Centenario semifinals due to injury. The striker rejoins the squad in fine form having scored five goals in his last seven games for Toronto FC. And he could be accompanied in Friday’s lineup by Bobby Wood, who has made an impressive start with Bundesliga side Hamburg.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has lost all four of its matches in the group, including a 6-0 loss to Trinidad and Tobago last time out. It did, though, give the Soca Warriors a real scare in a narrow 3-2 home defeat in the previous game. St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ most recent outings came in Caribbean Cup qualifying, which saw it lose to both Saint Kitts and Nevis and Suriname to bow out of contention for next year’s competition.
Kickoff Time: 3.30 p.m. EDT
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