Preview: USMNT v Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

It hardly seems possible that the World Cup ended more than a year ago, and yet here we are. And that means that, even with the next Cup nearly three years away, the byzantine process of qualification begins again. Believe it or not, the games upcoming this week constitute the beginning of the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying. The US is in a group with Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. While the US is currently ranked third in the region, behind Costa Rica and Mexico (Pot 1), they’ve lucked into the opponents with the lowest possible seeds. T&T is ranked sixth, last in Pot 2, and the other two are 11th and 12th.

That’s good news, of course—the easier path to qualification, the better—but there are literally no excuses now. Should Jurgen Klinsmann’s team fail to win all of its games in this round, and handily, there will be a reckoning.

The squad

The word on this group is that youth is being served, and there’s something to that—Matt Miazga and, most interestingly, Darlington Nagbe are getting their first call-ups, with a bevy of more familiar young guys available, too. Nagbe just became a US citizen recently, and is an exciting, if somewhat confounding, player. Miazga just finished a regular season where he went from big prospect to actual stud. He could find himself wearing the Stars and Stripes for a long, long time.

That said, there is a great deal of experience on the team, as well. No, there’s no Clint Dempsey, but there’s a baker’s dozen of players with World Cup Qualifying experience, and 11 played in the 2014 tournament. So, the question becomes how many of the younger players start or see real time. Why call in Jozy Altidore if he isn’t going to start? But Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, and Bobby Wood seem like the future, at least to Klinsmann.

Another, perhaps surprising, inclusion is Fabian Johnson, who was last heard from getting dressed down by Klinsmann for not showing the proper attitude toward his national team because he asked to leave a game due to a possible injury. Whatever really happened in that exchange, it is surprising to see him back so soon, and signals how important these games are for the coach. He doesn’t have the luxury of playing mind games; he needs to win.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

And he’s in luck, because the set of circumstances that would contrive to result in anything other than a US win in this game is difficult to imagine. Do you know where Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is? (are?) Neither did I. Well, it’s in the Caribbean, of course, specifically, here, basically in the triangle of Saint Lucia, Barbados, and Grenada. Like those places, it is small—tiny, really (about the same size as Philadelphia, give or take)—with a population of about a hundred grand, total. As a footballing nation, they define minnow, having never qualified for a tournament outside of the Caribbean. They’ve never played the US, but have lost to Mexico eight times, occasionally by an American football score. They did manage a 0–0 draw in 2007 and an 0–1 loss in 2004.


In short, the US will win this game, and should not give up any goals. If the team is properly focused, they should score a minimum of three. However, it’s hard to predict their mentality, given the travails of the past months, so we’ll stay conservative and say the US wins, just 3–0.


  1. Darlington Nagbe is a confounding player as you mention likely- as highlighted on TopDrawer recently- he is a player that has never been able to settle into one position on Porter’s team… winger in multiple formations, up top and wide in a 4-3-3, in the hole as playmaker in a 4-2-3-1… Maybe some continuity can occur now that Timbers seem to be on right track again after massive tinkering by the head coach the last season and a half.
    It is interesting Porter has done this to arguably his jewel player but it seems to have stalled his progress… and no telling where Jurgen will play him as a result…
    Maybe RB…
    either way… when/if he doesn’t show well… maybe JK will give him as many chances as that Brek Shea or Timmy Chandler guy.
    Could also be JK called FJ shortly after dressing down and said something along the lines of… “you are the future captain of this team and I damn well expect you to act like it… are you picking up what I’m putting down Fabian?”

  2. every time I think about the national team under klinsmann i get the urge to complain about roster decisions. i will now complain about roster decisions. the only two defensive midfielders he called up are in their mid thirties and have been showing very clear signs of losing their edge. it doesn’t seem like there is a plan for transitioning to a version of this team without jones or beckerman

    • Klinsman has no idea who the future DM of this team is. None-what-so-ever…
      Course the built in — perfectly suited solution is Michael Bradley but for whatever reason JK still seems to see him as an attacking midfielder.

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