The United States are set for The Hex. The final stage of World Cup qualifying for CONCACAF nations.
The top three teams will automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The Americans should have no problem sneaking in that group, but anything can happen.
With a spot waiting to be locked up, and as one of the favorites, the USMNT has more to focus on leading up to 2014. The World Cup is just around the corner and there is a lot of room for improvement with the U.S.
Here are five realistic goals the USMNT can achieve during The Hex.
The U.S. has everything at their fingertips when it comes to training. They should take advantage of it and dedicate themselves to being the fittest team on team on the pitch.
We have seen numerous players in the past couple of years being to tire when asked to go the full 90. That is unacceptable if the U.S. is to make a push to join the world's elite nations.
There is no reason they cannot show improved fitness during 2013. It needs to be a focus.
Games are always longer than the 90 minutes. They need to be prepared for that.
The U.S. has done an outstanding job of adding new youth to the roster in recent months. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is making it a point to give the U.S. more depth and fresher legs.
During The Hex the USMNT need to put those young men on the pitch. They need more international experience.
When the U.S. plays the bottom teams of the bracket, they can afford to rest the aging stars and put in the young blood who wear the crest.
With more experience the youth will be ready to contribute significantly in 2014 should they be required to. If they are ready, the U.S. will be even more of a threat to make a serious run at the World Cup. They need experience, and The Hex is a perfect chance to put those young guys on the pitch.
One easy goal to achieve is paring down the roster to find out who is making the trip to the World Cup.
There are plenty of spots open, and a lot of competition. Now is the time to see who steps up and takes over. Who among these men will take control of their destiny and be ready to be on the World Cup roster?
2012 gave Klinsmann a look at a lot of different groups of players. He got a chance to see who worked well together and who struggled.
Throughout 2013 Klinsmann will begin to find the corp group who stand out. That has to be a primary goal moving forward.
Klinsmann experimented with a lot of formations and styles during his tenure, but now it is time to find something that works and to stick with it.
Flexibility is key, but so is consistency.
The USMNT need to get comfortable playing in the system Klinsmann sets forth, and they must be able to execute it. Watching The Hex will be interesting to see how Klinsmann approaches each game with the team.
How will the U.S. decide to play moving forward? Things will get very intriguing during this final round of qualifying.
The United States got a huge confidence boost when they upended Mexico at Azteca in 2012, and they need to do that again during qualifying.
It should be the biggest goal they have.
Not only will it give them a shot in the arm, but it will put them in position to top the group and lay claim to CONCACAF dominance.
The first of the two meetings will happen in March back in Azteca—no doubt Mexico has that date circled on their calendar.
It will not be a friendly this time around, and with everything at stake the U.S. needs to pull off at least one victory against Mexico. As Klinsmann and company try to change the perception of U.S. Soccer this is the first step to doing that.