Jamie Squire - Getty Images
In what some were calling the most important USMNT match since the 2010 World Cup, the United States stared elimination in the face and overcame an early deficit to claim a 3-1 win over Guatemala in front of a raucous crowd in Kansas City.
I'll openly admit that I was more than a little uneasy about the fact that the Yanks could have been eliminated last night if the chips fell a certain way. I was incredibly uneasy after they gave up their patented early goal to go behind after only five minutes.
However, on this night, the amazing support at Livestrong Sporting Park absolutely refused to let their beloved Men's National Team squander a chance at qualification into the Hex. Carlos Bocanegra answered only five minutes later, and then Clint Dempsey put the entire country on his shoulders and carried them into the final Hexagonal qualifying round for World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
Do I feel better about things this morning? Well, to be fair, only a little. There's still some serious tweaking needed for this team going forward into the final round, and with several trips to Central America upcoming in their final 10 qualifying matches, the road certainly doesn't get any easier.
Just a few quick hits before we give you the links:
Jozy Altidore. I may only be 29, but I certainly can't seem to recall a hotter player as far as club form is concerned, not playing in a vital WCQ. As Revs fans, we've watched the Feilhaber saga all summer long, and I certainly hope that this particular storyline doesn't follow the same path. Jozy will be a hugely important cog in this USMNT machine next year, and I'd really like to see Klinsmann figure that out BEFORE we head into the Hex.
Landon Donovan. This final round of qualifying would be a whole lot smoother, and I'd feel a lot better, if one of the greatest players in American history was a part of it. Sure, Donovan has had some injury setbacks, and contemplated retirement, but as much as I loved Eddie Johnson out on the right flank last night, I wouldn't mind if it were Donovan instead.
The First Ten Minutes. Is it too much to ask to keep a clean sheet in the first ten minutes? This generation of USMNT has a seriously bad habit of falling behind and putting themselves behind he 8-ball early, and while they've raised comeback victories to an art-form in recent years, you can't help but wonder how good this team would be playing with an early LEAD.
Is This the Best Midfield the USA Has Ever Had? Dempsey. Bradley. Holden. Donovan. Edu. Jones. Kljestan. All with massive European club experience, loads of talent, and even, dare I say it, plenty of attitude. With so much talent in one pool, not only does Klinsmann have several quality options, he's got flexibility. His midfielders can play a variety of roles and play them well, which will be a huge boost towards qualification for the World Cup.
NOW ON TO THE LINKS!
A look at the CONCACAF Final Six | Soccer By Ives
The six teams that will fill the Hexagonal were finalized on Tuesday, and SBI takes a closer look at what you can expect in 2013.
USA vs. Guatemala, 2014 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: USA advances with a 3-1 victory - SBNation.com
After a rough start, a goal from Carlos Bocanegra and a brace by Clint Dempsey led the US to a 3-1 victory and a place in the CONCACAF hexagonal.
Player grades for U.S. win over Guatemala - ESPNFC
Jeff Carlisle of ESPNFC takes a look at last night's match and gives his own grades on the USMNT performance.
Mission Accomplished | Soccer By Ives
The U.S. Men's National Team needed a win or draw on Tuesday night to book their place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal. They didn't just win. They rolled, overcoming an early goal to cruise to victory.
Eddie Johnson's comeback continues with gem in U.S.' win over Guatemala - Grant Wahl - SI.com
The redemption narrative is so common in sports that it's something we take for granted, a cliché. But every once in a while you'll see a comeback story that transcends most of the others. We're starting to get to that point with Eddie Johnson, the U.S. forward (or is it winger now?) who was the most dangerous player on the field in the U.S.' 3-1 win against Guatemala on Tuesday that sent Jurgen Klinsmann's team into the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for World Cup 2014.