Philly Sports Live

Antigua & Barbuda vs. USA WCQ Match Preview

USMNTPSL

Tonight’s World Cup qualifying match against Antigua & Barbuda is going to be a lot more challenging than it ever should have been due to a rather long list of injuries that have left the USMNT in shambles.  Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann originally called in 24 players for the two upcoming qualifying matches, but Landon Donovan, Brek Shea and Edgar Castillo have all been ruled out to play in both games due to injuries they picked up during club play.  On top of that, Fabian Johnson has been dropped from tonight’s match due to flu symptoms.  What’s maddening about the whole situation is that Klinsmann named two alternates, Chris Wondolowski and Terrance Boyd, but neither player was called into camp, leaving only 21 players, maybe 22, in play for the next two matches.

What does this mean for the USMNT?  Not having Landon Donovan on the wing tonight hurts, so look for Graham Zusi to start on the wing in his place tonight.  Donovan is also a major component when it comes to set pieces and free kicks, leaving Zusi to take over those duties as well.  While Shea doesn’t start every match he is called up for, he is a big spark off the bench that will definitely be missed.

To succeed in this match tonight, it’s going to be imperative that the USMNT pick up a couple of goals early before they get tired out.  In all likelihood Eddie Johnson will be playing up top with Clint Dempsey at central.  If these two can team up to score a couple of quick goals, this game will go a whole lot smoother.  Once the second half comes around, history has shown it is a lot more difficult for the US to pick up goals.  With a depleted bench, it will be that much harder.

The US back line, if Klinsmann sticks with what he knows, will be have the familiar faces of Bocanegra, Cameron and Churundolo, with the possible addition of Michael Parkhurst in the starting XI in place of Fabian Johnson.  With Tim Howard in net and a strong back four, defense should not be much of an issue if the offense can get the job done.

Coverage of tonight’s match begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on the beIN SPORTS channel.  Just a reminder that this network is available only on DirectTV.  If you would still like to watch the match, there will be a group of USMNT supporters heading to Fado Irish Pub in Center City to watch the match.  You can also follow live tweets via @JulianB_PSL all match long.