The United States Men's National Soccer Team begin their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign tonight in Tampa against Antigua & Barbuda. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and the game will be streamed at ESPN3.com. The USMNT comes into the match ranked at #2 in CONCACAF and #29 in the world. Meanwhile, Antigua & Barbuda is currently ranked #100 in the world by FIFA.
Obviously the US come into the match as heavy favorites despite mixed results in their run up to qualifying. Jurgen Klinsmann's side played three warmup matches with the full range of results. They hammered Scotland 5-1, got hammered themselves in a 4-1 loss to Brazil and played a fairly lifeless 0-0 draw with Canada. Despite the result last time out, Klinsmann said there were still positives to take.
"I thought we played pretty well [against Canada]. We controlled most parts of the game. We were fortunate at the end when we got a little bit sloppy and almost paid the price. But having said that we went down to the other end and created quite a few chances ourselves. It was good to get a clean sheet. All in all we want to come up here and try to win the game, but lots of positives to take out of it as well."
The first major test of the USMNT qualifying campaign will likely come next Tuesday when they travel to Guatemala, but Klinsmann says getting a win tonight is important as well.
"They're two different teams. Going away from qualifying is always difficult, so that will be a big challenge for us against Guatemala. For Antigua, we're at home so we need to win that game. We need to really put a lot of pressure on them and make them feel like they're going to be in a really difficult game."
Tonight will mark the first time the US has ever faced Antigua & Barbuda.