USA vs. Guatemala: American Players Who Must Come Up Big in World Cup Qualifier

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IJune 12, 2012

TAMPA, FL - JUNE 08:  Midfielder Michael Bradley #4 of Team USA advances the ball against Team Antigua and Barbuda during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 8, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Guatemala is not Antigua.

Sure, the Guatemalans aren't the definition of a powerhouse, but they are still a big step up from the squad the USA just beat by a score of 3-1.

So, if the Americans are going to grab another three points in World Cup qualifying, they are going to have to play much better than they did against Antigua.

Here's a look at some players in particular who must put together solid performances. 

Michael Bradley

The former coach's son had been terrific in the USA's three friendlies preceding the match against Antigua. Anytime you can score a wonder goal like this one, you know things are going well:

However, he took a bit of a step back on Friday. 

While he made a few good runs, Bradley disappeared at times and didn't really make the necessary impact on the attacking side of the pitch.

Against Guatemala, Bradley needs to assert himself and provide another weapon behind Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez. With those three garnering a lot of the attention, Bradley could see plenty of scoring opportunities if he works for them. 

Maurice Edu

Edu has been a little inconsistent during his time with the men's national team, but he was terrific against Antigua.

Edu picked the perfect times to drop back, and he knew exactly when to move forward in attack, which are the two things he absolutely needs to be able to do from his position.

Additionally, Edu played terrific defense and distributed the ball perfectly to Bradley and Jermaine Jones all night long. He will be incredibly key in the middle of the field against Guatemala. 

Carlos Bocanegra

The USA has plenty of weapons on the attack, but it also needs to make sure to keep Guatemala out of the back of the net.

Bocanegra is easily the USA's most important defender, especially when Steve Cherundolo and Jose Torres break forward.

He often holds his line very well and breaks up any incoming threat, even if he is one of the last players back.

Throw in his ability to make things happen on set plays (he scored the first goal against Antigua), and there is no question why this man wears the captain's band. 

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