We're back, baby. We're back. It's been two months since we saw USMNT play a World Cup qualifier - tying at Jamaica. But we're back in Columbus, Ohio against El Salvador. I didn't even use hyperbole in my headline or anything. This is the most 3-match stretch for USMNT in a long, long time, perhaps ever. Why? Simple. Math and roster. Allow me to explain.
We have six matches left to qualify for the World Cup. Again, top-3 auto qualify, the 4th goes to a playoff. Two home matches here means we at a minimum need to leave with six points. That should keep us in the top-3. If we can get 7 points? Well, I'm damn near ready to declare us in. 9 points? We're in. I feel confident in all of that, especially looking at the schedule. Basically we need to at a minimum have it where if we beat Panama in the US on March 27 we lock. That's a minimum.
There's stuff we can nitpick. Not having John Brooks here was a bit surprising. Obviously no Gio Reyna as he's working his way back from injury and then we can argue about no Josh Sargent, Joe Scally, etc. But this is what we have. This is what we need to focus on. This is the golden generation. These are good problems to have when we can still roll a decent lineup with people missing. Now it's worth noting this:
Start Matt Turner at goal, who has the experience and talent. No brainer. Same with the midfield and roll out Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah. In fact, they already talk about how much chemistry they have. This should be a huge advantage for us.
Bang. Pulisic, Pepi up front are locks and then debate Weah or Aaronson. Finally the back, this is where it's interesting. We know Dest is a lock. But what do you do elsewhere? I do like both Robinson's and think they are part of our future for sure. Probably start Walker Zimmerman this match, but that's the one spot I want to see us improve the most.
So why is this so important idiot?
Again, this is our golden generation. For the first time we have true hype. We are a top-11 team in FIFA rankings. We won League of Nations and Gold Cup over Mexico this summer. Every single player is in their prime and should be around for a minimum 2 World Cups. We are coming off the embarrassment of missing the last World Cup. 6 matches, 3 at home, 3 on the road. Take care of business in this window and you have a smooth sailing to the World Cup. Struggle in this window? Then it's time to panic and blow up everything. You can't miss this World Cup. You can't fuck around and screw up all this talent.
You can't lose to fucking El Salvador at home. You can't even tie this country. Insert KFC joke that riles up a country during soccer here. Beat their brains in, get ready for Canada.