The United States men's national team is take on Jamaica this evening in what is, thankfully, a somewhat meaningless World Cup qualifying match. That's because the Americans already whooped Mexico, as well as everyone else in CONCACAF, to clinch a spot in next year's tournament in Brazil. So what's there to play for now?
Plane tickets. The United States, now assured they're playing in the World Cup, now have to decide which 23 men will be traveling to compete. And it's clearly a harder decision than it has been in recent cycles, because for once, the U.S. Soccer has a robust roster of guys who can play, and who are still in the World Cup conversation. This is partially due to the fact that the team's been playing extremely well, and everyone on it has been contributing. But also adding to this great, great problem is that way back in the summer, manager Jürgen Klinsmann divided the squad in half, and took the suckier half to the Gold Cup. Turns out, the suckier half isn't so sucky, and after romping through the tournament, a lot of players, like Eddie Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, and a wildly displaced Landon Donovan proved themselves valuable—maybe even invaluable—to this country's 2014 hopes. Others played themselves into position to garner a look in these final two qualifiers.
Opportunity has also presented itself through injury. Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Omar Gonzalez and Eddie Johnson are all out tonight. And actually, that's kind of awesome.
Tonight, we'll be seeing guys like Aron Jóhannsson and cult hero Mix Diskerud, guys who can definitely play and offer the United States more creativity in the attack, but have so far been on the periphery of the full starting lineup. One downer, which is undoubtedly for the best of the team in the long run, is that we won't get to see where Donovan fits into the crowded group of Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, and Graham Zusi.
So let's see what happens tonight. They kick off in Kansas City at 6:30 Eastern. For once, let's have some fun.
Photo Credit: Getty