Following Jurgen Klinsmann’s dismissal as the United States head coach, Bruce Arena stepped in and led the national team to a 14-game winning streak and a Gold Cup title. Things were shifting in the right direction, and it looked like Team USA was going to be a lock to make the World Cup. Fast forward a few months, and USMNT is coming off a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica on home soil and a 1-1 draw with Honduras. The standings currently show the United States sitting in fourth place, behind Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama. The CONCACAF division is allotted 3.5 spots for World Cup qualifying, meaning that three teams automatically make the international tournament, while one team will face off in a home-and-away playoff with the fifth team from Asia to determine which team will take that final spot among the two divisions.
What’s Next For Team USA?
At this point, Team USA and Honduras are tied at nine total points; however, USMNT holds the tiebreaker, based on goal differential. Nevertheless, USA faces off with Panama on Friday. The winner will hold the third-place slot heading into the final qualifying match, but if the game were to end in a draw, USMNT would be in jeopardy of sliding to the fifth spot, depending on how Honduras does. Ultimately, the next two games are must wins for Arena and Team USA if they want to solidify their spot in the 2018 World Cup.
Coach Arena’s Letter To Fans
Arena knows that USMNT fans are worried about the two upcoming qualifiers, so he decided to write a letter to fans to instill some confidence into them heading into Friday’s match with Panama. In his letter, Arena spoke about the mentality of winning and how it’s about more than effort. He spoke about the pride in being able to represent “every parent, sibling, coach and fan” that sacrificed for this country. Most importantly, he spoke about their most important weapon heading into Friday’s match in Orlando… the fans. Towards the end of the motivational letter, Arena wrote that we will all stand united on Friday night, saying, “You’re not beating us today.”