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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

World Cup Dreams Still Alive

Going into Wednesday night’s match, Head Coach Juergen Klinsmann was under heavy fire from the press. Many media platforms critiqued the German coach, questioning his ability to lead the US team towards another World Cup qualification.
Prior to the game, USA suffered an embarrassing loss against Guatemala, a team that is barely in the top 100 power rankings for international soccer. On the end of the spectrum, the United States is currently ranked as number 30 in the FIFA World Ranking system. Since the implementation of this ranking system, the USA has held an average ranking of 19. The drop is attributed to deteriorating play in the last month’s recent games. The agonizing and unlikely defeat had Klinsmann’s name just inches from the chopping block.
Entering the game, Klinsmann knew it was the most vital qualifying game on the calendar yet. Prior to the match, the United States was positioned as third place in Group C with just four points in three games played. Directly ahead of USA, in second place, was Guatemala with six points, while the first place position was held by Trinidad and Tobago with seven points. The only team below the United States was St. Vincent and Grenadines with zero points, an island country with a population of about 110,000 people. If USA wants to advance to the fifth round of North American qualifiers for World Cup Russia 2018, they need to finish in the top two of their group.
Fortunately for Klinsmann and his job, the Americans stole the show early in the game. A few minutes into the game, Gyasi Zardes and Clint Dempsey paired up to crack in the first goal of the game. Zardes sprinted to the penalty area, luring two Guatemalan defenders to him, while Geoff Cameron played a long ball into the striker’s chest.  After a lucky bounce off of Zardes and a Guatemalan defender, the ball rolled to the trailing striker, Clint Dempsey. With an almost wide-open goal, Dempsey smoothly found the back netting, furiously screaming with the crowds of American fans as his teammates swarmed him in excitement.
Needless to say, many F-bombs were dropped when the American scored his 14th World Cup Qualifier goal. Following their front man, USA managed to follow up the goal with another first-half beauty from Cameron and Michael Bradley. After a Guatemalan penalty, USA was awarded with a free kick from about 35 yards away, outside of the penalty box. Bradley sent in a beautiful cross directly to the head of Cameron, redirecting it to the top corner of the goal. The free kick was perfectly executed by Klinsmann’s side.
After the second goal, USA dominated possession and goal scoring opportunities. The United States managed to net in two more goals from Graham Zusi and Jose Altidore, while at the other end, Cameron and Steve Birnbaum helped lead the backline to an amazing display of gritty and hardnosed defense.  The United States backline allowed just one shot on goalkeeper Brad Guzan, resulting in a routine save. Following the game, Coach Klinsmann complimented his team for the performance. “A huge compliment to every one of them for a very clear message that we are on top of the game and we’re in the driver’s seat again.”
“We needed a big reaction. And I think everybody had that same mindset,” midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. “It was just all about responding tonight.” Los Angeles Galaxy attacker Gyasi Zardes added that “As soon as the ref blew the whistle, everybody was switched on. We were together throughout the whole 90 minutes.”
Following the game, the team’s unquestionable leader, Clint Dempsey, commented on the importance of the game. He expanded on the importance of a victory, not just a tie.
“It was crucial,” Dempsey said of the win. “If we didn’t win tonight, we were going to be in a really tough spot. Now we’re sitting better, but we’ve still got work to do. We learned a lot about ourselves and a lot about the character of this team by how we were able to bounce back with that pressure.”
USA is now in second place in Group C with seven points, while Guatemala is just behind with six. With just two games to go, the USA trails Trinidad and Tobago by three points. Earning first place would be extremely helpful moving into the final round of qualifying play. Having a higher seed makes the schedule easier, but as long as they finish top two, they advance. Moving forward the team needs to continue this success.  The team has already played Trinidad and Tobago once this round and the game resulted in a tie. The USA needs a victory against them if they have any shot at winning Group C.
“You’ve got to look within yourself, man. How bad do you want it? How bad do you want to be going to the World Cup?” said Dempsey. “How bad do you want to continue progressing the game in the States? You’ve got to put that on your shoulders, man. You got to represent your country with pride.”