Who doesn’t love a doubleheader like tonight with two big games, one right after the other? DC’s trip to New England tonight represents a real opportunity to put themselves in contention for the top two places in the Eastern Conference. Then, after that game, the USA visits Guatemala at 10 p.m. as World Cup Qualifying enters its “real, non-West Indian minnow” phases. Let’s start with the United match. According to the MLS press release, Gallardo is only questionable which means I’d expect to at least see him dress for the match tonight. Peralta remains out though with a hamstring issue. Also, DC’s Ivan Guerrero is gone with Honduras and finally, on top of all that, Gonzalo Martinez is suspended for yellow card accumulation. It should be needless to say, but United’s lineup could be a bit patchwork tonight and the defense is due for one of its meltdown matches.
Looking at the likely lineups of these two sides, I am having a harder and harder time convincing myself that United can escape Foxboro with three points. But I said that last week going into Chicago, and I turned out to be wrong. As much as a win would really lift United, a draw wouldn’t ruin things too badly. It might be asking too much over this stretch of five games in 18 days for four wins. But, after Chicago, I can at least allow myself to believe it’s possible.
Now, on to the USA match. The rule remains in these early qualifiers to draw on the road and win at home. I expect Bob Bradley will send out a lineup fully cognizant of that fact tonight. Did you know, the USA has still never won a qualifier in Guatemala? I doubt that will change tonight in front of one of CONCACAF’s most hostile atmospheres.
Do I think it’s possible for the US to win this game? Sure, the USA has long since reached the point where they stand at least a decent chance of winning ever game in CONCACAF, even at the Azteca. But considering how little time they’ll have had together going into this match, I think it’d be wrong of US fans to expect too much out of tonight. A draw, and especially a 0-0 draw, would suit the US just fine and send them into Septembers very winnable match in Havana with a minimum of drama.
To coin an odd metaphor here, tonight is a matter of rolling the old beater car down the street in order to get the engine to turn over. Tonight, the US just looks to get enough guys behind the car to get it to push it, against Cuba, we’ll actually look to get the engine started.
Prediction: 0-0, and mouth-breathing USA fans will lose their minds and bigsoccer will meltdown again.
Quick note for US fans – according to Ridge Mahoney, ESPN2 has a live baseball game before the USA match. If the baseball runs long though, the game will start on ESPN Classic.
Here are my predictions for other other matches across CONCACAF:
Cuba 0, Trinidad and Tobago 1
Mexico 2, Honduras 0 (TV: Telemundo at 9)
Canada 0, Jamaica 2 – Brilliant decision by Canada Soccer to put this match in Toronto, home to one of North America’s largest Jamaican communities.
Costa Rica 1, El Salvador 1
Haiti 0, Suriname 0