Jozy Altidore (pictured) was one of the many regular players to be called up for the United States’ last two World Cup qualifiers for Brazil 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- With a spot secured in next year's World Cup, the United States will try to play a spoiler's role in its final two CONCACAF Hexagonal encounters.
The Americans (5-1-2, 16 points) host Jamaica in Kansas City, Kansas, on Friday before completing its qualifying run at Panama four days later.
The sixth-place Reggae Boyz (0-4-4, 4 points) have a faint chance to reach fourth place and a playoff berth against Oceania winner New Zealand by winning its final two matches. Fourth-place Panama (1-5-2, 8 points), which visits fifth-place Mexico (1-5-2, 8 points) still can finish fourth.
The final-round hexagonal leaders will try to make it as difficult as possible for both teams as a great majority of the regulars were called in.
Injured U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Clint Dempsey will miss out, but the rest of the qualifying core will suit up. Goalkeeper Tim Howard, midfielder/forward Landon Donovan and forward Jozy Altidore, who scored in three vital qualifying wins in June, will all be present at Sporting Park.
“There is a huge responsibility toward yourself where you always demand the best," said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “You want to win every game, get the points, win the group and be No. 1 in CONCACAF. You also want to show everyone that you are a good sport. We know that our game in Panama will have an influence on who will be the No. 4 team and play against New Zealand in the playoff. Is it Panama or Mexico? I don’t want to deal with that discussion. I want to go down to Panama to get three points, so we take a very strong group.
"Also, we don’t have a lot of games left before the World Cup. Every game gives us a lot of answers to questions about players, our attitude, and our state of mind. We want to get the job done in Kansas City against Jamaica, and then we go 1,000 percent into the game against Panama.”
Among the players Jamaica has called in is 22-year-ol striker Deshorn Brown, who has scored nine goals for the Colorado Rapids (Major League Soccer). The Jamaicans also have forward Jermaine "Tuffy" Anderson, 34, from Waterhouse in the domestic league. Anderson scored the 11th-hour equalizer in his national team debut that lifted the Reggae Boyz to a 1-1 home draw over Costa Rica.
"We work for the future," Jamaica coach Winfried Schafer said. "We want to build a new team. We want to build a new spirit. We want to build a new football generation in Jamaica."