US vow to 'come out flying' against Panama
ORLANDO, Florida (AP) :
Accustomed to qualifying for the World Cup with games to spare, United States players realise another slip could cause them to miss next year's tournament, a circumstance that has swollen angst among a growing fan base.
"We need three points bad," star teenage midfielder Christian Pulisic said ahead of today's qualifier against Panama. "We want to come out flying."
Fourth in the North and Central American and Caribbean region with two games left, the Americans still can earn one of the region's three automatic berths.
They likely will need a win against the Panamanians, followed by a victory or a draw Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago.
WHAT WENT WRONG
"I haven't dwelled on what went wrong or what we didn't do," defender Omar Gonzalez said yesterday before the Americans practised in warm rain.
"We all understand what needs to be done, how we need to step out on the field, the focus that we need to have, the match intensity we need to have throughout the 90-minutes plus."
The Americans have lost two home games in a World Cup cycle for the first time since 1957, 2-1 to Mexico last November and 2-0 to Costa Rica last month their first defeat in 16 games since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann as coach.
El Tri have clinched with 18 points, and Los Ticos have 15 and are on the verge of securing a berth. The US (nine) would vault over Panama (10) into third with a win. Honduras also has nine points going into its match at Costa Rica on Saturday, but the US have a plus-one goal difference to the Catrachos' minus-seven.
CONCACAF's fourth-place nation goes to a play-off next month against Australia or Syria, tied 1-1 in their two-leg matchup heading into Tuesday's game at Sydney.
"I think we have to be all more aggressive," forward Jozy Altidore said. "It's a matter of everybody just being a little more confident, taking a little bit more risk in the final third."