Jurgen Klinsmann is set to lead the United States into the fourth stage of World Cup Qualifying. It is better known as "The Hex."
The U.S. had an up-and-down third round, but managed to take control and win the group as the stage wound down. The squad then traveled to Russia for a friendly where they battled to a dramatic 2-2 draw to end 2012.
Now the U.S. needs to get back to work and qualify for the 2014 World Cup. CONCACAF offers up several intriguing matchups for the men behind the crest, and it will not be a cakewalk for the Americans.
These are five reasons why the Klinsmann-led U.S. will have success in The Hex.
Jozy Altidore has been the face of the U.S. National Team's future for quite some time, but now more young athletes are coming along.
Brek Shea, Timmy Chandler and Joshua Gatt are just a couple of the influx of talent that came along in 2012 to show that U.S. soccer does not begin and end with Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.
The youngsters of U.S. soccer are vital to the success of the team as they try to qualify for the World Cup. They offer up fresh legs, youthful exuberance and, most importantly, depth. They are important pieces to the puzzle.
Having these young guns available gives the U.S. more ammo to work with. Klinsmann has put together a strong, fast and relatively deep squad for 2013 and beyond.
Klinsmann has put an emphasis on offense during his time at the helm of the USMNT. That will pay dividends during The Hex.
Donovan, Dempsey, Herculez Gomez and others will kick off 2013 by forcing the other CONCACAF teams to keep up with their scoring pace.
Only once in 2012 were the U.S. kept off the board. A 0-0 draw with Canada in the summer. The U.S. will turn up the pressure on opponents' defenses, and the offensive talent the USMNT has will shine during qualification.
Klinsmann will orchestrate an offensive game plan for each match that will put the USMNT on the path to the full three points.
There may not be a greater key to success than Tim Howard.
He is one of the world's best keepers, and there is no equal to him on the U.S. roster. He is crucially needed between the posts.
Howard will need to step up and continue to make big saves during The Hex. The other teams trying to qualify for Brazil have dynamic scorers on their rosters, and the U.S. defense has been known to let a few slip through.
In spite of the defensive improvements, Howard is still the focus. He knows he will be called upon to come up big in key situations. History tells us he will continue to do so.
The United States knocked off Italy, strolled in to Azteca and won and drew with Russia without the superstars making the trip to end the year.
2012 gave the United States a lot of confidence moving forward to the next stage.
Donovan can still be the savior of the team, but it may not be needed as much any more. There are other players stepping up and finding the back of the net against top-level teams. They have gained confidence to take their shot at glory.
Confidence is one of the biggest assets to teams. Ask the USWNT. Now, the USMNT are beginning to believe in themselves like never before.
Nothing was more important than the win at Azteca. They now know they can travel south and defeat Mexico. There is no substitute for confidence. We will see why during The Hex.
There are several nations with quality players. They would not reach this stage of qualifying without them. However, top to bottom, the United States should hold an edge over most everyone.
The United States has the resources to develop top-notch athletes and keep them in peak shape. This allows them to gain an instant advantage the minute they step on the pitch.
The collection of players on the roster can compete against most in the world on a pure athletic basis.
The USMNT should be ready to go at full speed for the full 90. They should be prepared for physical matches against whoever steps across them.
Klinsmann will put the best athletes available to him on the pitch for these matches, and they will give him the best shot at victory. Combine that with the talent they have and the USMNT should begin to exert their dominance during The Hex and fight for the top CONCACAF spot.